Are you planning on growing your food this summer? Fresh food grown from your own backyard is not only deeply satisfying, but a healthy habit, too. Imagine an entire season of fresh salad, juicy tomatoes, and all the sparkling cucumber water you can dream up? The most exciting gardens are a combination of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, but if you're looking to grow and put food on the table this season, anchoring your garden around nutritious vegetables is where it's at. Here are five secrets to growing your best veggie garden ever:
HAVE A WATERING SCHEDULE
Having a set watering schedule benefits your indoor and outdoor plants, but outdoor plants need a little more regular watering. Making a habit of getting out to water your plants everyday will help them grow to their full potential. You may have some finicky plants who only want their roots soaked, or who prefer completely drying out in between watering, but when it comes to veggies, they need a lot of water. Unless you've had a string of rainy days, your veggies actually do need that daily drink of water. Develop a watering schedule for the gardening season, regardless of your gardening zone. Water them decently everyday, rather than deep soaking once a week.
WATER YOUR PLANTS IN THE MORNING
Did you know there is a sweet spot when it comes to watering your plants? Watering your plants in the morning is the best time when it comes to growing your best edible garden. When you water your plants in the afternoon, the hot afternoon heat and water may actually blister some of your plants' delicate foliage. Watering too late in the evening can bring on pests and disease by not letting your plants dry out properly with the help of the sun. Watering in the morning is still cool enough while giving your garden plenty of drying time.
Want to add a little magic to your green thumb?
Check out our Botanical Grimoire for practical and magical gardening tips, like how to use your roses in love spells and how to use mint for the tastiest mojitos on the block. The Botanical Grimoire includes 50 magical plants to add to your garden.
USE SOIL WITH A HEALTHY, THREE OR FOUR-WAY MIX
Soil health is the most important part of your garden, regardless of what you're growing. If your soil is deficient in nutrients, how can it grow healthy, lush food for you all summer? Depending on our gardening zones, we also have different soil. Some may be full of clay, others may be sandy loam, and some may be rich black gold. If you're unsure how to test your soil to see it's health, opt for getting new fresh soil that has had some nutritional help. A good combination of rich gardening soil will have a mix of peat moss, top soil, manure, compost and/or sand. You'll save money by visiting a stone/soil yard rather than buying a bunch of bags from Home Depot, but depending on how much you need, a couple bags may be enough. Even better? Start composting to make your own amazing soil!
PLAN WITH PESTS IN MIND
Certain vegetables and herbs thrive when grown side by side, largely because certain pairings help deter pests that one plant are prone to, and vice versa. Before sowing your seeds or planting your veggies, plan what plants you will put where depending on how they grow together. Here are some popular pairings:
Tomatoes do well with basil nearby, but they also like chives, parsley and marigolds in close vicinity, too. But they aren't a fan of cabbage or potatoes - so keep those guys separate.
Carrots dig rosemary, sage, and peas, but they hate being anywhere near dill.
Cucumbers love being with pals like beans, peas and radishes.
Lettuce types like being near carrots and radishes. Planting these three together are known to do exceptionally well as a trio! Lettuce also likes cucumbers, so think about planting some climbing cucumbers above your lettuce (who prefer some shade).
Beets like being next to some tasty onions.
Broccoli and cauliflower dig rosemary, sage, dill and anything with a fragrant aroma (even mint, but mint can take over the garden if not planted in a container, so plant with care). Just be sure to keep them away from your tomatoes.
ATTRACT THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
Bees are imperative pollinators that help your garden thrive. When a plant is heartily pollinated, it produces the best potential food for you! Conversely, when a plant is under-pollinated, the plant's produce may not fully develop or grow mangled or deformed. Bees transport pollen among plants, helping fertilize them for the best growth. Bees like blue, purple and white flowers, and flowers that are native to your area as they are familiar to the bees in your area. Alyssums, asters, lavender, mint (and the mint family), and geraniums are all great choices that bees love. Our friends from Northlore (Peace Honey crafters), say their bees love Bee Balm (wild bergamot)!
Birds help pollinate the garden, too, and they also eat unwanted bugs and weeds! Attract birds by providing perches and feeders, water features, birdhouses, and some bird seed to lure them in. Trees also provide good shelter and nesting sites.