If you’ve been following our guide so far, you should now have a garden planted in good soil with your vegetables spaced to allow plenty of room once they’ve grown in. That was a fair bit of work, but you’re not done yet, at least not if you want to get anything when it’s time to start harvesting.
Now that your plants are in the ground, you’re going to have to take care of them. As always, there are a few different things you’re going to want to keep in mind.
This is the obvious one, isn’t it? When you get down to it, your plants need three things to grow: good soil, sunlight, and water. We’ve already covered the soil, and mother nature will provide the sunlight, but watering will be up to you.
The best time to water your garden is in the morning when it’s still nice and cool outside, which allows more of the water to get to your plants without evaporating. That said, for many of us watering in the morning can be tough to do, so you can also water in the afternoon. You’ll want to wait until after the hottest part of the day has passed, but before dark. This will reduce the water loss to evaporation, but ensure that your plants dry before nightfall (wet leaves can introduce harmful fungi).
The next thing you’ll want to focus on is weeding. Even though we took care to remove existing weeds and discourage their growth earlier, new weeds will no doubt show up. Weeding can be a constant job, but it’s an important one. Those unwanted plants are stealing space and nutrients from the vegetables you’re trying to grow, so get rid of them as quickly as possible. Some people like to weed the garden weekly, others try to pull up a few every time they water. Find a rhythm that works for you, and stick with it.
Finally, you’re going to want to be on the lookout for animals eating or otherwise destroying your plants. Rabbits and deer can make short work of a garden, wasting all your efforts. There are a lot of different strategies out there to deter critters, and you’ll likely use more than one. Here’s a short sampling:
- Use raised beds, which deters smaller animals, like rabbits, from entering the garden
- Cover plants with netting
- Plant things like garlic and lavender, which repel grazing animals
- Building fencing around your garden, and ensure the fencing continues into the ground to discourage burrowing animals
- Use animal deterrent sprays on your plants
Follow these steps to keep your garden safe and growing, and you should ensure a nice harvest later in the season.