Make a Home Vegetable Garden Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions

The start of a new year always spurs thoughts of hope, dreams to be achieved and desires to be fulfilled. Whether it is being successful at those new resolutions you just set for yourself or just trying to make the New Year a little better than the previous year for your family, there are items on your to-do list that you need to tackle every day. Here is one resolution to add to your list if you have not done so already, home vegetable gardening.

It does not matter if you are new to the hobby or have been growing your own food for decades, set some time aside to plan out a successful vegetable garden this year. Set up your list and make another resolution which I will talk about at in a moment.

Maybe I am a bit biased because I love vegetable gardening and growing my own fruits, vegetables and herbs at home, but I cannot think of too many other tasks that have such a wonderful return where you truly get to eat the fruits of your labor. I like woodworking also, but I wouldn’t eat that new gazebo I just built.

The best part…You get to decide what to grow, when to grow it, how to grow it and how much of it you want to grow…In other words, a sense of freedom like no other.

First and foremost when you are planning out the New Year’s home vegetable garden, start with writing a list of the vegetables, fruits and herbs you want to grow. Do not think about the size available to grow it in right now, this step is to simply put on paper your garden “wants” so to speak.

Now that you have your list, organize the list arranging them in the order of the fruits, vegetables and herbs you know you and your family will most likely eat to items you would like to grow if time and space allow. With your new organized list in hand, mark next to each item how much of each you would like to grow. For me, as for my wife and kids, I love tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini. I mark down the number of plants I believe I would need to grow in order to have more than enough for everybody.

With your list and quantities complete, mark out what you actually can grow based on the size of the land you have available. Don’t forget about container gardening that can increase your growing space and potential yields.

Obviously this is just a quick starter for your New Year’s home vegetable garden resolution but it will get you going in the right direction.

As for the second home vegetable gardening resolution I mentioned earlier…put down on your to-do list to complete by the end of the year one new item in gardening you have never tried before. For example, maybe you want to start collecting rain water, or have a compost pile, or grow a row of veggies for your church or local food shelter. You get the idea.

So as we embark on a New Year with uncertainty before us, we can make the future whatever we want it to be. Make vegetable gardening part of that future; put some fresh food on the table. You won’t be disappointed.

7 Common Home Vegetable Gardening Mistakes

We have all been there. Making mistakes that we look back on now and say, gees I cannot believe I used to do that. If you are not at that point yet, here are 7 common home vegetable gardening mistakes to refer to.

Mistake #1: Planting Too Much
I was guilty of this one myself. Sometimes I still partake in this mistake but at least I have it a bit under control. Many home vegetable gardeners plant way too much. When this occurs you simply do not have the time to pick it all and/or cannot consume it all or give it away, thereby leading to a lot of waste. This may not necessarily be a bad thing since you can simply compost it, but you are putting a lot of work into your garden, which increases your workload by planting too much. Scale down what you are growing. Grow what you like to eat and what you can handle.

Mistake #2: Planting Too Early
I know that feeling of anxiety after a long, hard winter. You are ready to get your seeds in the ground, or move your indoor plants to the outdoors. Many times, because of this anxiety, some home vegetable gardeners will plant them too early not taking into account that you could be stricken with one more cold night. If you are planting tomatoes or peppers, one cold night could literally wipe you out. Follow the frost chart for your area and then add 2 weeks.

Mistake #3: Planting Too Close
Some are limited on space but want to grow a lot. Therefore they plant things closer together in the hopes of getting everything in there. Some plants will grow and produce, but by planting them too close together you are limiting their root structure and also introducing competition for the soil’s nutrients. The back of your seed packets will give you the ideal distance that the seeds should be planted from one another. When you give the roots plenty of room, this will yield to greater harvests.

Mistake #4: Not Composting
If you do not have a compost pile or simply throw your leftovers away you are missing out on an easy opportunity to add nutrients back into your soil. Compost is the result of organic material breaking down with the end result being humus. That humus is loaded with minerals and nutrients your vegetables need to grow. The best part of composting is there is very little effort on your part. The organic material will be broken down by bacteria, worms and other creatures. All you have to do is feed it to them. Grass, leaves, twigs, food scraps and cow manure make up just a few of the organic items that can be added to your compost pile.

Mistake #5: Too Much and/or Not Enough Water
I own a number of soil testers. They measure the amount of moisture in my soil. This lets me know whether or not I need to water my garden. This tool is truly worth its weight in gold. Too much water could create root rot in your plants, whereas not enough water could stunt their growth.

Mistake #6: Not Knowing the Soil pH
The pH is a reading measuring how acidic or alkaline your soil is. You ideally want this reading to be above 5 but less than 8. However, if you do not know what the reading is, how can you adjust accordingly? There are a variety of pH soil test kits available at any home center, including ones that measure pH, light and moisture, also called 3 in 1 soil testers. They vary in price costing as little as $3 up to $50.

Mistake #7: Killing All Bugs for no Apparent Reason
Not all bugs are bad. Ladybugs for instance eat aphids, which are bad. So if you have loads of ladybugs that is a good thing. Many novice home vegetable gardeners kill bugs because they think they will destroy the plant, but not all bugs are there to do that. If you are unfamiliar with which bugs are good and which are bad, there are a number of excellent books on the subject. Do a Google search on the words, “beneficial insects”.

I am sure we all have our own personal mistakes that we have made in the garden. I found, after talking to many vegetable gardeners on our Facebook page, that the 7 talked about here, are the most common.

Home Vegetable Gardening Made Easy With These 4 Tips

1. Start off Small – Try not to take on more vegetables, fruits and herbs then you can handle. Many times new gardeners (and sometimes experienced ones) will try to grow too much. The harsh reality of their situation may be that they do not have the space available or the time to maintain their garden. When this happens the garden suffers from overcrowding and lack of maintenance which invariable leads to weeds and under producing plants. Instead grow a select few plants of vegetables, fruits and herbs you know you will consume. Gardening becomes much easier when the end product will result in something you know you will eat.

2. Put it in View – The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” is so true when it comes to vegetable gardening. When you do not have a clear view of your garden from your window you tend to forget about it at times. Instead try to keep your garden where it will always be in plain sight of where you will sit for breakfast first thing in the morning. When you see it every day, you are more likely to maintain it.

3. Try Not to Over Think – When starting out try not to over think your garden. There is a lot of information out there about how to optimize your garden. All of it is helpful, but if you try to implement too much of it too soon before you feel comfortable with home vegetable gardening, you can overwhelm yourself. For instance, there is companion planting, crop rotation, organic fertilizing and bug control methods to name a few. Forget about that for now and start small. Then over time start filtering these items in.

4. Keep the Tools Simple – You might be thinking you need a plethora of tools to garden, from motorized ones to the latest hand tools from your local home or garden center. Sure, many tools will make it easier for you and on your back, but what you really need are the basics. A pitchfork, shovel, and rake are all you will need to get started. The shovel allows you to get through tough soil while the pitchfork helps you turn that soil over and break up the clumps which helps aerate it. Throw in the rake to help “smooth” the soil over and you are all set.

These 4 tips won’t make you a master gardener overnight, but they will help you keep it simple so you can start off small and slow and realistically progress.