Home Vegetable Gardening – Calcium is Not Just For Strong Bones For People

Most home vegetable gardeners have seen somewhere or heard from someone the importance of the N, P, K levels in your soil. These letters represent specific elements and stand for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). If you look on any bag of fertilizer available at your local home or garden center you will see these letters and usually a ratio values right on the bag, bucket or box.

Although, N, P, and K, are considered the big three, they are only a few compared to the many elements and nutrients your plants need in order to grow or thrive. Just like you need all of your vitamins and minerals from A through zinc, a plant requires many nutrients as well.

One specific nutrient it needs, just like humans, is calcium. Calcium in plants is required for proper cell division during plant formation and growth. If your soil lacks calcium the leaves of your plants will look yellow or pale and blossom end rot will occur more frequently. Other signs of calcium deficiency include bad root formation, browning of plants and small vegetable and fruit formations.

If you have been vegetable gardening for sometime then you already know the importance of composting. If you do just simple composting such as burying your food scraps or keeping a compost pile of leaves, twigs and grass clippings and then adding that compost to your soil, then you more than likely already receive ample amounts of calcium. Of course if you are not doing this then you should begin right away. There is nothing better for your soil than adding organic material that will decompose and breakdown into the nutrients your soil needs.

Good sources for calcium beyond composting include calcitic lime, calcium sulfate gypsum, bone meal, soft rock phosphate, calcium carbonate, and for those of you that have fire places, wood ashes. All or most are available at your local home or garden center with some being a lot more pricey than others. So if you are going to put out some money make sure you get a source that also includes other valuable nutrients. Bone meal for instance is a great source for phosphorus as well and by adding bone meal (a mixture of crushed bones) to your soil you are getting two very valuable nutrients for the price of one.

On a side note, although wood ashes are a great source for calcium and a bit of potassium, never ever use ashes from charcoal. These ashes could be toxic to your soil, your plants and the underlying ecosystem that works hard to break down your organic material that you are burying.

If you plan on using a commercial product, make sure you follow the instructions on the container so you do not add too much or not enough. A soil reading with a home soil testing kit comes in very handy so you know exactly how much calcium your soil contains. You can pick one up at your local home or garden center for just a few bucks.

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.

Make Money From Your Home Vegetable Garden

If you are like me then you already enjoy home vegetable gardening. For me it is relaxing, educational, a good source for decent exercise but most of all rewarding. I am not talking financially rewarding, but rewarding in a sense of, at the end of a growing season I have something to show for all my efforts and that is plenty of fruits and vegetables.

But what if you want to take your home vegetable garden to the next level and say use it as a tool to earn some extra income. Maybe you just want to earn enough to pay for the seeds you buy, the water you use and the fertilizer you need to make everything grow.

It is possible, but just like anything else in life it takes work. So before you get started the first thing I recommend is make sure you are having fun with it. Don’t just do it because it makes you money, you can get any type of second job for that. Do it because you love it, brings a smile to the face and makes you happy. When this happens the money will follow.

The first way you can earn some extra cash is your own roadside stand or a stand at your local community flea market. When you harvest your vegetables you can set yourself up a little stand and sell it by the weight, quantity or whatever is easier for you. To get an idea of what you can charge for your vegetables, take a ride to your local grocer and see what they charge and make it comparable. If your harvest looks good and healthy, and priced right, you should have no problem making some sales.

A second way to earn some extra cash at your local flea market is to sell plants after they have germinated. It is a way for you to supply other home vegetable gardeners. If you have the space to germinate seeds indoors during the cooler months, transfer them once they have sprouted to pots, then you have everything you need to make a dollar or two per plant. Of course the larger the plants the more you can charge, but I will say there is a cut off for price and size. A dollar or two for a three to six inch plant is ideal and tomato plants do the best.

Who knows how to grow plants better in your area then you right? Well put that knowledge to the test and host a one day home vegetable gardening clinic for say five to ten bucks. You can go over which plants you grow, your success stories and so on, passing along your knowledge to others. The downfall is you will need a place to host it. Now I know our local library will let you use their rooms for a small fee as will the local schools, so start there first.

As you can see none of these methods mentioned above are out of the ordinary or crazy ideas. They are straightforward ways to utilize the skill set that you already have with home vegetable gardening and using that skill set to make you a few extra bucks.