Basic Knowledge and Tips For the Home Vegetable Gardener

I get asked all the time what three things someone should absolutely have to know when it comes to home vegetable gardening. Without a pause I say know your soil`s pH level, understand how much water your plants really need, and become an expert in composting. These three items will help you understand and build a better environment for your vegetables.

Soil pH

If you don’t remember from your most recent chemistry class that you have taken, then let me give you a basic reminder course of what the pH level is. The pH level is the means to measure how acidic something (whatever you are measuring) is. The scale goes from 0 to 14 where anything less than 7 on the scale is considered acidic and anything over 7 is classified as alkaline. If you get a reading of exactly 7 then that is considered neutral. Many plants thrive in various pH levels. For instance some species of potatoes love the soil to be acidic, where as broccoli grows much better in soil that is as close to neutral as possible. Test the pH level of your soil by first purchasing a soil testing kit available from any home or garden center near you. They cost about a few bucks and are worth their weight in gold. Once you have your readings of various locations in your garden, you can then mark the areas where plants will do better and/or adjust the pH levels of your soil based on the test kit`s recommendation. Invest in a pH soil test kit. You won`t regret it.


A lot of newcomers to home vegetable gardening get into a bad habit of over watering their plants. They pull the hose out, turn the water on and let loose until the ground is completely drenched regardless of plant species and locations. They go back to their gardens the following night and notice that some of the leaves on some of the plants have turned yellow and even slightly brown, so they fire up the water hose and again drench the soil. The problem here is not enough water, it is too much water. When you water a plant too much you also wash away valuable nutrients the plant needs such as nitrogen. Too much water can also leave to an increase of fungus development and root rot. Follow the instructions on the seed packets to ensure that you are not falling victim to this brutal endless cycle.


Nothing gets nutrients to your plants faster then good old fashioned compost. Compost is the end result of organic matter breaking down. It can be anything from your grass clippings to your left over dinner from last night. Once completely broken down, you can mix this compost in with the soil or simply rake it in over top your top soil and let nature carry it to the lower depths via rain fall or when you water your plants. A good constant supply of compost throughout the year will do wonders for your home vegetable garden, the soil it grows in and the plants you choose to grow there.

As you can see these three items affect every home vegetable gardener whether they grow everything in their backyard or in pots on their back patio. Mastering all three will tremendously improve your harvests and length of growing seasons.