3 Tips to Better Soil for Your Home Vegetable Garden

You can enhance your home vegetable garden with items you have in, around and near your house. These items will add nutrients to your soil, in turn creating much more productive vegetable plants for many growing seasons to come.

Food Scraps
Do you generate food waste? Of course you do. All people do. Whether it is that leftover dinner, coffee grinds or that food that is just rotting away in the fridge, you have some kind of food waste. Before you go ahead and throw it away in your trash, consider feeding the worms, bacteria and microbes that already exist in your garden. By burying your food waste at least twenty-four inches deep in your vegetable garden, the underlying ecosystem will take over and break that food down into compost, vermicompost and humus.

Grass Clippings
Do you have a lawn? Do you mow it? Does your neighbor have a lawn? Do they mow it? I am guessing probably so. Did you know those grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen which is needed by all fruits and vegetables in order to grow and produce? You can mix your clippings directly into your soil with a tiller, or keep a separate compost pile. The choice is yours. Just make sure you put those clippings to good use. Try not to pile too much grass in one area as it can get matted down and get deprived of oxygen in turn creating that “rotting” smell.

Most people get bummed out when summer ends marking the beginning of autumn. But as a home vegetable gardener, autumn marks a great time to enhance the backyard dirt. This is the time of year when the trees give up their leaves to us vegetable gardeners to create beneficials such as leaf mold or additional compost. Both of which when added to the backyard vegetable garden replenish the soil with much needed nutrients. For quicker breakdown and better results try shredding the leaves. It will make it easier for the ecosystem in your garden to break them down.

Did I mention anything that might be earth shattering? Of course not. But many people do not use these basic items to create better soil for their home vegetable gardens. Give these items a try and you will be well on your way, and way ahead of many home vegetable gardeners.

Home and Garden Tips

Planning and planting a garden is easier than you may think, and fresh grown vegetables, herbs, and flowers are great rewards that are worth a couple weekends of getting your garden underway. Below are a few basic tips to use around your home and garden.

1. Before you begin to dig up a place in your yard for your garden, decide how much work you want to put into gardening and how big of yield you hope to harvest. If you just start tearing up yard, you may end up with too much garden and wasted space.

2. Many will till their garden twice before planting. The first till is to break up and loosen hard soil to about 12 to 14 inches of depth. The second should till compost and fertilizer into the soil.

3. Depending on your soil type, mix in compost material and possibly peat moss to add nutrients and to aid in water absorption and drainage.

4. Keep soil around the base of plants loose to aid in water and nutrient absorption.

5. Watering more deeply allows longer periods of time between watering. If it is sunny and hot, water in early morning or at night. There is less water evaporation at these times which allows water to soak into the soil.

6. For lawn care, one deep watering is better than watering lightly several times. In normal summer conditions, lawns need about one inch of rain per week.

7. To help keep water from evaporating from lawns, keep lawns cut at about two inches, or so. Not gathering grass clippings will allow for natural compost to develop which adds nutrients to the soil of your lawn.

8. To slow evaporation from your garden, put a couple of inches of mulch on the surface of the soil.

These are basic home and garden tips that can be used in most climates and regions of the country. Your local home and garden professional can also give you helpful tips, especially those that may particularly apply to the local area in which you live.

Understanding Manure For Your Home Vegetable Garden

I love the scene in the television show Seinfeld where character George Costanza, played by actor Jason Alexander, is talking to a female named Kelly, played by actress Tracy Kolis, about his love of the word manure. The funny line is, “when you consider the other choices, manure, is pretty refreshing.” Of course Kelly cuts the date short as she finds talking about the subject pretty strange.

Had Kelly been a vegetable gardener she might have gone off on a tangent as to the wonderful benefits manure has for your home vegetable garden. I guess the “show about nothing” did not want to take that route.

Manure from the proper sources (I’ll get to that in a moment) presents you with a great opportunity to add much needed nutrients back into the soil and with seasoned manure from these same sources, you can brew a wonderful elixir called manure tea. We’ll cover manure tea sometime in the future.

Here is how manure works to benefit your home vegetable garden. Manure is nothing more than organic matter that contains tremendous amounts of nutrients your vegetable plants can use, such as nitrogen. However, in order for your plants to use those nutrients they must be released from the manure. The only way this can occur is to have a higher life form feed on the manure (yeah I know it sounds gross) such as worms that then release their own castings that plants then use. This is just a basic overview of course.

There are both good and bad manures that you need to know about. Your dog, cat and human manure is bad. It can be toxic to your plants as well as the underlying ecosystem. Do not use these manures. Good manure comes from sources such as cows, horses, chickens and other types of grain or grass fed live stock.

Now that you know how manure works and what the good types of manure are, the next obvious step is to know how to add it to your home vegetable garden. Simply add the manure to your garden and mix it in with your soil. The important part, which I will get into in a moment, is knowing exactly at what time of the year you should be adding it. Make sure you mix it in thoroughly with a pitchfork, broad fork or tiller.

This step is crucial in the adding stage and that is what time of the year should it go in. If you have fresh manure, meaning it is less than 6 months old (yeah I know who keeps the dates on this stuff), then it is recommended that you mix the manure into your soil at the end of your growing season, which for most of us is in the autumn months. If you have seasoned manure then you should add it no later than 4 weeks before planting. This gives it plenty of time to start releasing all of those wonderful nutrients.

So where do you get manure? You could buy it at a local home or garden center, but why do that if you can get it for free from a local horse or cow farm. Just check on websites such as Craigslist in the farm and garden section. Also, if you do find someone that is willing to give you some manure, make sure the livestock are not fed with any types of grain or feed that contain chemicals. Those chemicals could be passed to the manure.

There is no question that adding manure to your home vegetable garden has tremendous benefits. Knowing where to get it, what kind to use and how to add it is just as important to know.