Compost added to gardens improves soil structure, texture, aeration, and water retention. When mixed with compost, clay soils are lightened and sandy soils are better able to retain water. Mixing compost with soil also contributes to erosion control, soil fertility, proper pH balance, and healthy root development in plants.
Separate garden beds with walkways. You should not walk in the area where you plant your vegetables. The weight from walking on a vegetable bed compacts the soil and retards plant growth.
Utilize the garden space wisely. Select crops you will eat and enjoy or your garden space and the food you grow will both be wasted. Decide what you want to plant and where you will plant it. Know what you will plant after the spring season crop is harvested.
Southern exposure has the most light (if you live in the northern hemisphere). Plant your tall crops on the north and west sides of the garden to prevent shading of smaller plants.
Use known or recommended cultivars for your main planting. Always buy good quality open-pollinated or heirloom seed from a reputable company rather than hybrid seed, or buy transplant seedlings to save time.
Watch the moon and learn its phases.
My own experience has taught me that things grown above the ground should be planted during the waxing moon, and things grown below the ground should be planted on the waning moon.
Water your garden as often as needed to maintain a uniform moisture supply. In the absence of rain, an inch of water once a week probably will be adequate for heavier soils. Light sandy soils might require more frequent watering. It is best to water early in the morning so foliage dries quickly. This helps prevent diseases.
Good luck with your garden! Growing food can be a rewarding, spiritual experience. Not only will you benefit from consuming the healthful food you produce, but you will also bring yourself closer to the ultimate realities of creation.
In the future we will delve deeper into some of the items discussed in this piece. Feel free to send any questions you might want us to address.
K. Rashid Nuri is the executive director of Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms. He lived in Southeast Asia for three years, Nigeria for five, and Ghana for nearly two. He has managed public, private, and community-based food and agriculture businesses in more than 30 countries around the world. Rashid also served four years as a Senior Executive in the Clinton administration including Deputy Administrator of the Farm Service Agency and Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is a graduate of Harvard College where he studied Political Science, and he has an M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Massachusetts.