Gardening ideas for small gardens.

Healthy vegetable gardens do more than provide a pleasant area in your yard. They repay your labor with nutritious food and a healthy varied diet. Vegetable gardeners are in tune with the surroundings, giving back to the soil what they take from it. Abundant vegetable gardens start with healthy, rich soil. Compost and mulch help with that natural wealth.

About 11,000 years ago, the first farmers began to choose and cultivate desired food plants in the southwest Asian Fertile Crescent - between the ancient Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Although we believe there was some make use of of wild cereals before that time, the earliest crops were barley, bitter vetch, chick peas, flax, lentils, peas, emmer, and wheat. About 9,000 years ago, Egyptians began to grow wheat and barley. About the same time, farmers in the Far East began to grow rice, soy, mung, azuki, and taro.

Then, about 7,000 years ago, ancient Sumarians established the first prepared agricultural practices that made large-scale farming possible. Of particular note, they established irrigation as a means to nurture crops where none were possible before. Vegetable gardeners today use nearly all of the same methods established in early history. But today's vegetable gardeners have millennia of experience behind them. Experimentation today is success at the margins. Failure is not disaster.

As in centuries passed, a successful vegetable gardener cultivates the garden before planting for three main reasons: to eliminate weeds, to distribute air and nutrients throughout the soil, and to conserve moisture. Preparation of the soil is the single most significant step in assuring abundant harvests.

Weeds are the strongest enemy of a healthy vegetable garden. Letting them multiply in your vegetable garden will create much work and let-down through the increasing season. And when your vegetables start to grow, taking out weeds can your new vegetable plants beyond repair. Weeds also steal the precious nutrients necessary to produce healthy vegetables.

Rather than giving up the new garden to a patch of weeds, the successful vegetable gardener will cultivate the bed often, breaking up the soil to have healthy air, moisture, and heat to facilitate preferable chemical processes that produce abundant plant food. Ancient growers learned by experimentation the importance of keeping the soil loose around young plants. Early farmers deposited rotten fish beneath their crops as fertilizer and then used tools of shell and stone to nurture healthy soil and get plentiful air to the roots of their crops.

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