Vegetable gardening tips for beginners.

What is a self-sustaining vegetable garden? As name suggests, it is a garden that sustains itself through proper planning, planting and cultivation of its crops. If your vegetable garden is self sustaining, you will eventually not need to purchase anymore vegetables from the market or grocery because you can eat from your own vegetable garden every year. This ought to be your ultimate objective as a vegetable gardener. But how can you cultivate such a self-sustaining vegetable garden?

A self-sustaining vegetable garden is one with healthy and good soil for growing high-quality seeds into nutritious vegetables. In my many years as a vegetable gardener, I have developed a system that continuously produces vegetables from my garden irrespective of the seasons. My system concentrates on two elements - the soil and the seeds.

Firstly, to have a self-sustaining vegetable garden, your soil should be healthy. Healthy soil is enriched with nutrients, has the proper composition and pH. The three main minerals needed by vegetables are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Other trace elements needed include iron, zinc, molybdenum etc. All these elements are discovered naturally in compost. Therefore adding compost to the soil is the first step in making your soil healthy.

The next action to take is to make sure the optimum ratio of sand, silt and clay. You can observe the approximate percentage of these three elements in your soil by taking some soil and putting it into an apparent jar or beaker and adding water. As the soil settles, you should see three clear segments. The top segment is clay, the middle one is silt and the bottom segment is sand. The ideal ratio of these three elements is 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay. If the soil is too clayey, add some sand and if too sandy, add some clay compounds like bentonite. In either case, add some peat moss and compost also.

The pH of soil can be ascertained using a pH tester that can be bought from any garden store. The optimum pH you should aim for is between pH 7 and pH 6.5. This is the extent of pH in which most vegetables thrive. Again, pH can be adjusted upwards or downwards by either adding lime or manure respectively.

The next important part of a self-sustaining vegetable garden is the vegetable seeds. If you are planting your vegetables for the very first time, you should obtain some quality seeds from a garden store to make sure you get good, healthy vegetables. Purchase only real, non-hybrid varieties of seeds. After the first harvest, you will be able to make use of your own seeds for the following season. The seeds you select ought to be as reported by the climate of your area.

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