There are three common mistakes that people, mostly beginner gardeners, make when they undertake vegetable garden planting for the first time. However, these mistakes are easily avoided, not only leaving the gardens healthier but also their owners happier.

The first mistake people make is poor water management. Water is a limited resource we are using at unsustainable rates. We are wasting water in ways that are not helping but harming our gardens. Most plants do best with about one inch of rain or watering per week. More water will evaporate, run off or harm roots that become waterlogged. Too much water can cause mildew on leaves and attract harmful insects. Watering too shallowly will prevent roots from going deep enough. To correct this mistake, use a rain gauge and dig down in the soil every few days to check when water is needed. Water deeply, less often. Mulch around plants to retain moisture and prevent weeds. Choose plant varieties suited to your area’s rainfall. Consider using a rain barrel to collect and store rainwater. Water early in the morning or in the evening to prevent evaporation.

The second commonly made mistake is the failure to meet a plant’s space, nutrient and environmental requirements. Plants growing in ideal conditions are more vigorous and more resistant to pests and diseases. Plants that are too crowded will have reduced yield and be harder to look after. Planting too early, or too late, in the season for the variety will cause plant stress and poor development. Too much or too little sun can be very harmful. Read all the instructions and tags that come with your plants. If you put the right plants in their correct place, you’ll find that they are easier to maintain and need less fertilizer and less likely to be affected by pests and disease problems.

The third mistake is the most important of them all, and that is people fail to build healthy soil in the garden before planting their vegetables. This can doom any garden to failure. Below the soil line, you should have a world teeming with microorganisms and beneficial insects that provide plants with the nutrients they need. Soil needs a steady supply of organic material to promote soil and plant health. So, if you have any doubt about the quality of your soil, you can have it tested and amended for correct pH balance, drainage and so on. Once you’ve done that, you can go ahead and start planting with confidence.

Gardening in general, and vegetable garden planting in particular, can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. The great thing about gardening is that it can evolve as we learn. We can correct mistakes as we go and try new methods as we learn about them.

Swiss Chard Vegetable – No Downside to the Swiss Chard

There is one food that has it all, and that is the Swiss chard vegetable. It’s not often that you come across an all-inclusive food that offers everything from having a great taste, healthy nutrients and healing qualities. On top of that, as a weight-loss food, you’d be hard-pressed to find better as one cup of boiled, chopped Swiss chard contains only about 35 calories.

This truly underrated vegetable is a cool-season vegetable that is actually a beet that has been bred specifically to produce more leaves and fewer stems. The leaves are, of course, more popular in the USA rather than Europe, where the stems are preferred. You can prepare and cook the Swiss chard in a variety of ways without losing too many of its vitamins. For example, it’s delicious sauteed simply with garlic and a little of a good extra virgin olive oil. If you prefer, you can also just steam it, perhaps with one or two of your favorite herbs and sliced lemon. Speaking of vitamins, I don’t know of any other single vegetable that contains as many nutrients as the Swiss chard. If you’re thinking Vitamins A, B, C, E and K, you’d be right. It also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. This list is by no means exhaustive but does explain why it is consistently rated as one of the very best vegetables to include in your diet, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.

The Swiss chard vegetable has a very high level of beta-carotene. Now, beta-carotene has been widely studied by medical researchers because of its potential to provide protection against certain types of cancer. In fact, researchers in Australia studied two groups of men’s diets: those who had had skin cancer and those without cancer. The researchers discovered that the men who were less likely to develop skin cancer were those who ate more food full of beta-carotene, like the Swiss chard vegetable.

Swiss chard is easy for the novice gardener to grow. All it needs is a well-drained soil, improved by the addition of aged compost. If you water regularly and keep it free from weeds, you should be able to harvest and enjoy your crop four to six weeks after planting. And, since the Swiss chard is relatively frost resistant, don’t be afraid to experiment and plant them two to three weeks before your last frost. You should have good results.

All in all, the Swiss chard vegetable will make a worthwhile addition to your vegetable garden. It is versatile, tastes great and is full of healthy nutrients. And, if you’re trying to lose some weight, this vegetable with its low-calorie content should be the first one picked in your diet.

Seaweed Fertilizer – Discover Nature’s Best Kept Secret

You may not have thought of using seaweed fertilizer in your home garden before, but I hope that, after reading this, you will have enough confidence to give it a shot.

All the major and minor plant nutrients and trace elements are present in seaweed, whether it is fresh seaweed, dried seaweed meal or in the form of liquid seaweed extract. The only exception is vitamins: you won’t find them in the liquid extract, only in the other two. For many coastal regions of the world, it has been common practice to apply seaweed, especially the large brown variety, to the land as a soil improver and fertilizer. Some people like to gather their own seaweed at their local beach (legally, we hope) and use it “wet” or dry or, they may turn it into an organic liquid fertilizer after some kind of fermentation process. Others may just buy the seaweed by the bag if they can get it that way.

However, today seaweed extracts are more widely used. Sold in concentrated form, they are easy for the home gardener to dilute and spray on or apply as a liquid fertilizer to plants. That’s not all. The nutrients in the liquid seaweed extract are immediately available to be absorbed by the plants, whereas seaweed and seaweed meal, just like any other organic matter, must first decompose before the nutrients can be released and used by the plants.

Seaweed contains alginic acid, which is a soil conditioner. Various studies have now proved that seaweed and seaweed products improve the water-holding capacity of the soil and improve its structure, making it rich and crumbly.

The use of seaweed and seaweed products in the horticultural industry is now well-established and becoming more widespread as more and more people all over the world discover its many benefits to plants. When applied to vegetable, fruit and flower plants, they include:

  • Higher yield of crop plants
  • Improved seed germination
  • Increased nutrient uptake from the soil
  • Increased ability to resist garden pests such as red spider mite and aphids
  • Increased ability to resist plant diseases such as mildew, scab and fungi
  • Better capacity to resist frost

Here’s a very good example of how seaweed meal was used to great effect by an inventive market gardener:

In Portland, Oregon, a home gardener was losing all his seedlings and fertilizers down into the ditch because heavy rain was washing them down his sloping plots. Since he started to use seaweed meal, he has significantly changed the structure of his sandy soil so much so that even heavy rain cannot wash his plants away now.

I haven’t experienced this particular problem, but I would definitely have experimented with his method if I had. It worked, didn’t it?

In any case, it’s very clear what amazing improvements seaweed fertilizer can make to your home garden. Among other benefits, your garden plants will enjoy easier access to nutrients and water in the soil and boost their natural resistance to pests and diseases. This translates into less effort on your part in maintaining your home garden, and that can’t be bad.

Check out seaweed fertilizers and start producing better-tasting vegetables and fruit in your home garden.