Welcome butterflies to your vegetable garden by including specific plants that will increase pollination for a bountiful harvest.
Are you tired of paying for overpriced organic produce, but you're concerned about the chemicals used in conventional farming? With GMOs taking over the industry and limited organic options readily available, maybe now is the right time to start your first garden. By establishing your own garden, you will not only reap nutritional and monetary benefits, you may also find you really enjoy it. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Start small. You may feel excited about the number and variety of vegetables you can plant, but you need to think about how much your family will actually eat. You don't want to waste food or feel overwhelmed and give up.
- Know when to plant what. Use a gardening calendar, customized to where you live, and pay attention to frost dates.
- Decide on a space that gets full sun. Once you know what you want to plant, determine the best location. It's a good idea to choose a small area that you can easily maintain. You may even want to consider planting in containers on a deck or patio in lieu of digging up the backyard.
- Success requires good soil and plenty of water. Most vegetables do well in moist soil that's rich in organic matter like compost or peat moss. Your garden will need plenty of water, especially during dry spells. If you plant near a water source, it will be easier for you.
- Dig your beds before you plant. You can either dig by hand or use a tiller to loosen the soil before you plant. Once it has been loosened, spread out compost to mix into the soil. Smooth the surface with a rake and water thoroughly. Allow the soil to sit a few days before planting.
- Fertilize your crops. Consider using high-quality compost. Follow the directions on the bag, and don't apply more than recommended.
- Weed regularly. Weeds will compete with your vegetables for water and nutrients, so it's important to keep them under control. To discourage weed growth, use a hoe or small tool at the top of the soil regularly. Using mulch can also help.
- Harvest your produce. Many vegetables can be harvested at several stages. As a general rule, if it looks good enough to eat, you can probably pick it. The more you pick, the more the plant will probably produce.
- Don't forget the butterflies. Many herbs and vegetables are host plants for butterflies. Dill, fennel, parsley, and anything in the cabbage family will bring in the butterflies. Realize, your plants will look "chewed", but there should be enough for you and the butterflies to be fed well.
- Go wild. Let another area of your landscape go a little wild with Native wildflowers that include milkweed; not only will you see more butterflies, you will reap a bigger harvest with more pollinators near your garden.
If you are unsuccessful the first time, don't give up! Gardening takes practice. You will learn what works and what doesn't for next year. At the very least, you will have gotten fresh air, a little exercise and hopefully a few good crops, while saving a few dollars at the grocery store.