Growing fresh vegetables and herbs year round for your salads or cooked in the steamer or the oven is a form of intensive cultivation as the best vegetables are sowing, cultivated and harvested in short time spans. Successive plantings mean that you produce young growing tissue and this is always found in the crunchiest, tastiest vegetables. This is how I harvest quality vegetables and herbs year round.
Step 1 – Grouping
Vegetables can be grown in pretty much the same soil. The best vegetable soil is loose, crumby and able to hold water and nutrients. It needs to be fertilized and aerated but the same soil will grow a variety of vegetables. Vegetables are generally grouped into 3 main types-seed vegetables, leaf and stem vegetables and root and bulb vegetables. Group these together because each of these vegetable types require different types and amounts of fertilizer.
Step 2 – Seasonal Planting
Determine whether your vegetables are cool or warm season plants and plant them in season. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and beans grow well during cooler months while capsicum, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and corn all enjoy warmer growing conditions. Vegetables like cabbage, lettuce and carrots grow in temperatures between warm and cool plantings. Plants these at the correct time of the year as they will ‘go to seed’ if sown when it is too warm or too cool.
Step 3 – Correct Sunlight
For quick growing vegetables select a garden area that is exposed to at least 4-5 hours of sunlight each day. Have part of this garden face the south for the best exposure to sunlight, especially in winter. Avoid shade from other plants or buildings.
Step 4 – Garden Layout
This will depend on your time and interest in gardening vegetables and herbs. Start small and extend after success and follow this. A popular size vegetable garden is about 10 square feet. Plant the vegetables you enjoy but remember that climbing beans and cucumbers grow on a trellis and need little space. Tomatoes and capsicum have high yield crops. Silver beet and broccoli and lettuce are good for continuous harvesting.
Step 5 – Fertilizing
Use a pre-planting fertilizer containing phosphorous before each crop to assist with healthy seedlings and roots. Then root and bulb vegetables require no further fertilizing but leaf vegetables need more nitrogen and seed vegetables need additional mixed fertilizing. Most vegetables and herbs need a lightly acidic soil so fertilize with lime after summer crops and before cool season crops.
Step 6 – Watering
Water well across each season to produce quick-growing vegetables. Vegetables can lose large amounts of water during dry hot seasons. Good soakings in hot weather assist keep them in an exclusive herb garden or use them as borders in your vegetable or flower garden. They also grow well in pots but these will need a liquid fertilizer. Harvest when you need them fresh or if you wish to dry them instead, hang upside down in a shady spot.
Step 7 – What About the Herbs?
A wonderful addition to many vegetable and meat dishes, herbs generally need well drained soil and vary in the amount of sunlight they require. Easy to grow, often from seedlings, they can be grown in an exclusive herb garden or be used as borders in your vegetable or flower garden. They also grow well in pots but these will need a liquid fertilizer. Harvest when you need them fresh or if you wish to dry them instead, hang upside down in a shady spot.
Remember also the benefit of crop rotation to reduce the impact of disease in each vegetable family.
Simple Tips to Grow Flowers and Vegetables Organically
Do gardening using greenhouse techniques and grow vegetables and flowers in an environment-friendly way.
Have you ever enjoyed your annuals in the summer time, but then were sad when the freezing temperatures of October and November killed those plants? Perhaps you had a beautiful large coleus one year and left it outside during the winter and could never find that variety again.
Others may like to have fresh summer vegetables in the winter time. Whatever the reason, many of you would like to have a greenhouse to grow a garden in the winter.
What do you need to build a greenhouse?
To build a greenhouse, you need:
1. Greenhouse kits are great for the beginner. There are many greenhouse kits available which you can get from some of the bigger garden centers or off of the internet. These centers offer a whole array of greenhouse kits and materials to build your own greenhouse from scratch.
Depending on how many plants you want to grow, you need to choose a greenhouse kit. If you are only beginning, you should probably consider buying a smaller greenhouse that will consume less energy and warm up faster.
2. A heater is required for people further north and in cold climates. This is especially the case if you want to propagate annuals or grow tomatoes during the winter time. Annuals and tomatoes cannot handle freezing temperatures, so if you want to successfully propagate annuals such as impatients and coleus, you should have the temperature in your greenhouse set at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Most greenhouse heaters of good quality come with thermostatic control.
3. Growth lamps might be necessary in the more northern regions of the world to successfully grow and propagate some annuals which are of tropical or subtropical origin. They are required because during winter time, the days are much shorter than closer to the equator.
Furthermore, in many northern regions, the majority of days are overcast, severely limiting the sun’s light from feeding your plants. This is where the growth lamps can come in handy. Growth lamps should be suspended from the ceiling.
4. Solar heat trapping glass or plastic is a must for building a greenhouse from scratch. Greenhouses keep a good percentage of their heat by the sun. The greenhouse materials let the sun’s heat come in but do not let it out.
The northern side of the greenhouse
You need to remember that the northern side of your greenhouse is the coldest area and exposed to the coldest temperatures. In many regions in the northern United States and Canada, the cold winter winds come from the North. How the north wall of your greenhouse is insulated is critical to be able to successfully raise your plants during the winter.
Have the glass or plastic walls of your greenhouse on the west, east, south walls. Furthermore, the entrance of your greenhouse should be best placed on the southern side of the greenhouse. The north wall should be solid and heavily insulated. Along the northern wall of the greenhouse is the best place to install the heater.
Setting the temperature of your greenhouse
Depending on the time of year, the temperature of your greenhouse should be regulated accordingly by the three seasons excluding summer.
1. Fall is a time of year where some days towards the beginning of the season can be rather warm and summer like whereas other days can be cold. Fall is usually the time of year when the first frost and freezing temperatures arrive in the northern climates.
Unless you get into late fall such as the end of October into November when winter begins to set in, you should not turn on the heater. In the fall up to mid October, the sun is still rather strong. Furthermore, bugs and other garden pests have a natural instinct to go where it is warmer in the fall.
For example, Chinese beetles, which are orange lady bugs congregate around your windows and screen doors when it is warm in late September or early October. They do this because they know that in your home the heat will be running and it will be decidedly warmer than the freezing temperatures of the coming winter.
Though Chinese beetles are not a problem for your plants, but other bugs, such as aphids and other beetles can be devastating in your greenhouse if they come in and survive the winter. During the early fall and during Indian summers, have netting on all the open windows to keep the bugs from coming in and have the windows open to keep the temperature in the greenhouse the same as outside.
Only when it is cold outside and freezes during the night time, have the windows closed and allow the sun’s heat to warm the greenhouse. Even though it may freeze in October, the frosts are usually during the night and fade away as the morning sun comes up.
Though the fall sees hard freezes, if your greenhouse is closed up at night and the windows are open on warm days, it will not be freezing cold inside the greenhouse. This is because the glass or plastic panels of your greenhouse are designed to let the sun’s heat come in, but not let it go out.
2. Winter is the season that is the toughest on your plants. As winter weather sets in mid to late November, the heater in your greenhouse should be turned on. Never let your greenhouse get any hotter than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. High temperatures can be damaging to tomatoes and peppers.
Furthermore, in the cold dark days of winter, from late November to March, you should have the growth lamps on. In this time of year, try to simulate the same kind of conditions during the summer months. Your plants will be much healthier and more beautiful by spring.
3. Spring is the time of year where the days get much longer and the temperature slowly gets warmer. This is a time of year that sees some freezing temperatures and warmer days. The sun also becomes stronger in spring and this is a time to slowly acclimate the plants to be outside for the summer.
Do not put your annuals out early. Do not plant any of your newly propagated annuals until after Memorial Day, unless you live in USDA zone 6a or warmer. Zone 6a covers Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, northern Texas, etc. In those areas, it gets warmer and the likelihood of late hard frosts is lesser than in the more northern states or Canada.
Sprinkler systems for your greenhouse
Every greenhouse should have its own sprinkler system. Like when outside, the plants in the greenhouse also need water. Technically, in most professional greenhouses, the sprinkler system works by a hose that is suspended from the ceiling and has shower heads that rain of the plants, like a light summer rain. You should have the same type of watering system. Furthermore, your watering system should be set on a timer to rain on your plants every two or three days.
Potting and drainage
Plants should be potted in pots that have drain holes and the water should be drained away from the plant. Make sure that the soil drains well and the plants only get the water they need, otherwise the roots can drown…