It’s always a good time to start a vegetable garden – follow these simple tips and you’ll soon reap the rewards
There are few things in life as satisfying as growing your own food – the joy of picking your first broccoli, or sharing your harvest with people you love is a wonderful experience. I get quite attached to my plants, nurturing them from their tiny beginnings, keeping them watered, fed and safe from the dreaded caterpillar; it feels a little like parenting but rather more peaceful. You don’t need a great deal of space to grow your own veggies; even the smallest garden can produce a surprisingly generous bounty.
Envisioning your garden brimming with all sorts of delicious things will help motivate you to get started. Make a list of what you want to grow, and bear in mind you don’t have to stick to vegetables. Your vegetable garden will benefit from the addition of flowers and herbs. When choosing what type of garden you want to create, consider how much time you will have to spend in it, as well as what will be practical for the amount of space you have. If you don’t have room for garden beds, there are plenty of options for smaller-scale growing. Whether you are planning to plant in garden beds, pots, hanging baskets, or an old bath tub, you will need the same fundamentals: nutrient-rich soil, plenty of sunshine, shelter and water.
What you will need
Soil/Potting mix, Compost, Fertiliser (sheep pellets/animal manure), Liquid fertiliser (seaweed/fish), Mulch (hay/pea straw), Seedlings and/or seeds.
Tips for great growing
·Rotate your crops each season This allows the mineral balance to be maintained, reduces disease and makes better use of organic matter.
·Companion planting This is when you grow certain plants together so that they benefit one another by giving protection against insects and improving plant growth and flavour. Cauliflower and beans grow well together, for example, as beans release nitrogen into the soil, which cauliflower needs plenty of. Broccoli and rosemary do well together as rosemary repels cabbage fly. Lavender benefits most vegetables, being a general insect repellent. Silverbeet does particularly well planted near lavender.
·Start a compost bin Your garden will love you for it. It’s a great way of reusing your kitchen and garden waste and keeping the cycle of life going, as well as reducing landfill, which is made up of more than 50 per cent compostable matter. It will save you money too, as well-tended compost is a valuable plant food and should be the primary source of nutrients for your garden.
·Don’t become discouraged if things don’t always go to plan, a garden is a living entity that is changing continually.
Looking after your garden
· To avoid weeds, plant your veggies close together and use a mulch
· Apply a liquid fertiliser every 3-4 weeks during the winter months
· In cooler climates use frost cloths to protect frost-sensitive plants
· Keep plants well watered.