Vegetable Garden Basics
No matter the size of a vegetable garden you wish to grow, there are three basic requirements:
Light: Most vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun. If they do not get enough light, they will not produce as well and they are more susceptible to attack from insects and diseases. For vegetable gardens that are not in full sun, you can still grow many leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach. When in a hot-summer climate, cool-season vegetable varieties such as peas may do better in part shade. Check your site to be sure large trees, buildings or other structures don’t obstruct the sunlight from your garden. Southern and western exposures work best, provided there are no large objects to block the light. Northern exposures are too shady and should be avoided.
Water:Vegetables need plenty of water and if allowed to dry out, they will become stressed and not produce as well. In addition, stressed vegetable plants are more susceptible to problems from insects and diseases. Most vegetables are not drought tolerant; so watering during extended dry periods, in addition to their basic watering needs, is a necessity.
Soil: As with any kind of plant’s needs, the soil will supply the main nutrients for proper growth. Most vegetables grow best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter, such as compost. This will increase the soils ability to retain water and nutrients as well as supporting beneficial micro-organisms. Compost can be made at home from grass clippings, leaves, yard debris, and kitchen scraps, or can be purchased from your local garden centers. Another way to add organic matter is to grow cover crops which can be turned into the soil just as they begin to flower. While compost and organic matter will increase your soil’s ability to hold nutrients, they do not always supply enough nutrients to meet most plants’ needs. A regular fertilizing schedule will correct this. Be aware of the soil’s pH, this can hinder a plants ability to take up needed nutrients. Always read and follow label directions.