Do not dismiss growing vegetables because you consider it too labor intensive to be possible. Using the right tools and using techniques such as mulching and different methods of production are all good labor-saving ideas. If you are easily tired, do a little at a time. For example, if you are digging, dig only for a maximum of 10-15 minutes per day, or weed a short section, then switch to a less strenuous job.
There are tools to suit many different needs and it is essential to take time to select the right ones for you. They should be easy to use and not cause any undue strain. For example, there are tools which can be used from a sitting position, or without bending your back. For those with a weak grip there are lightweight tools, or tools for use with one hand. Anyone who tires easily may find it easier to carry a single lightweight shaft and a set of interchangeable tool heads in a basket or wheelbarrow, rather than trying to carry a clutch of conventional single-purpose tools.
A mulch is any material which covers the soil and reduces weed growth. Most mulches also help to reduce water loss from the ground and so cut down on the need for irrigation. There are two main types: manufactured materials; black polythene, woven fibers, carpets – or organic materials; garden compost, shredded bark, farmyard manure, spent hops, coconut fiber, composted grass clippings. Organic mulches not only have the advantage of reducing weed growth but they can help condition the soil and may act as a source of nutrients for the crop. There are a number of kneeling aids which can help to take the pain out of planting and weeding.
Different methods of production
All these methods help to make the most effective use of your space and enable you to produce the quantities of vegetables that you want:
- Crop rotation. For crops to do well, it is important that your vegetable plot is well prepared and that you use a rotation system to avoid the build up of pests and diseases.
- Successional sowing. The term has two meanings. The first is to space the sowing of a single vegetable variety over a long period, to avoid a glut and ensure a continuous crop over a long period of time. Lettuce lends itself well to this technique. The other meaning is to sow successions of different cultivars to achieve different maturing times.
- Catch cropping. This involves growing a quick or early crop, such as early peas, harvesting it and growing a second crop on the same piece of land. For example, early peas could precede a crop of winter cabbage.
- Intercropping. This means growing an early crop in between rows of later maturing vegetables. A good example of this system is a crop of early sown lettuce in between runner beans or one of the brassica crops.
- Miniature vegetables. Many vegetables grown at the usual recommended spacing require a lot of space and the results are often too large for the average meal. There are now many varieties of vegetable that are mature even when still small.
- It is also possible to sow standard varieties at a closer spacing than is conventionally recommended. This system of growing vegetables would be particularly suitable for use in deep beds, raised beds, or the intensive vegetable production system.
- Extending the growing season. The most obvious way is by using a greenhouse. However, there are simpler and cheaper methods. Cloches can be bought in most garden centers and are available in glass, plastic, or polythene. For easier access, a cloche could be positioned over a raised bed. It is relatively simple to construct your own mini polythene tunnel or cloche. Cut a length of strong wire into hoops and insert them at regular intervals down the bed. Fix the polythene to a firm stake at one end and stretch over the wire hoops, securing at the other end.
To make the tunnel really secure, tie a piece of string to one of the end hoops, across to another couple of hoops and secure the other end. This keeps the polythene firmly in place but allows you to lift the sides for watering and thinning of plants.
An even less expensive way of extending the growing season is to use polythene mulches. These are sheets of polythene perforated with tiny slits which are stretched over the crop directly after planting or sowing. As the plants grow and stretch the polythene, the slits expand. This gradually increases the amount of air they receive – and this in turn hardens off the crop while allowing moisture to reach the soil.
Cities Have Less Space for Vegetable Gardening
As cities have grown larger there has been less space for people to have their own vegetable gardens. High density housing complexes have removed the green space many people may have had in the past. Where gardens once fed the needs of each household, now super markets bring them the produce they need.
The vegetables arrive from all over the world fresh daily for the neighborhood residents to haul home to their kitchens. There is no need to buy more than you can use in a day or two because it is always available to you fresh. You might think this is a good reason to never have to grow a vegetable garden again. That is if you saw growing a garden as an unpleasant task.
Most people do it not as much for the produce but for the enjoyment and hobby it offers to them. Working in the soil and nurturing plants to produce is a very relaxing pastime that fills a greater need than simply supplying vegetables. It is a way to unwind your mind and produce some positive results with your own hands.
For people that have found themselves in high density neighborhoods being a gardener at heart can be a difficult situation. Many communities have developed public gardens where people can have vegetable gardens near their homes while adding a bit of nature back to the city streets. They can change the whole feeling of a neighborhood in a very good way.
Planting a growing bag
- It’s always a proud treat to enjoy your own homegrown foods. Here’s four easy steps to start growing healthy, delicious vegetables.
- Growing bags can be used both outdoors and in the greenhouse. Use a knife to cut planting holes.
- Pot-grown plants, such as peppers or tomatoes, can be planted straight into the growing bag. Firm them in.
- It is important to cut small holes in the sides of the bag to ensure good drainage and to prevent water-logging. Cut small holes in the sides of the bag to allow excess water to drain away.
- Water the plants in well, and continue to do this regularly as the bags can dry out rapidly.
Vegetable Gardening for Children
A vegetable garden is a good place to spend time with young children and teach them the basic of plant growth. Children will love to have their own garden plot next to yours and will be thrilled to go out and work in it every day. One of the exciting things about growing a vegetable garden is the speed the plants will grow.
Children can really see them change and grow each day unlike some plants that will grow at a very slow pace. This speed makes the process easier for children to understand as they can actually see the progress in the garden. They can even have fun germinating the seeds in a damp cloth in a plastic bag in their pocket.
There are many people that can not imagine life without their own vegetable garden. The resulting harvest will be preserved and canned and enjoyed all winter. Many people feel home preserved vegetables are far tastier than canned store bought ones. Taste and preference is the main reason. You will not likely save any money from the effort.
Money savings is not really the goal. The hobby evolves from the pleasure of actually caring for the plants from seed to harvest and encouraging the best growth he can from them. Each year he will try to better his yields and produce a finer crop than his last one. Local agricultural fairs always have competitions for the best produces. Winning a red ribbon can be more satisfying than even eating the produce.