How to Start a Vegetable Garden

If you don’t yet have a little herb and/or vegetable garden in your backyard, spring is the perfect time to start one.  The beauty of having a vegetable garden is that you don’t have to venture too far for fresh, tasty produce.  Home grown produce always seems to taste that little bit better than store bought produce, and there’s nothing fresher than something you just picked a moment ago.  Why not find a nice, sunny spot in your garden and grow your own vegetables?  Growing vegetables is fun. The whole household can join in and it’s the perfect excuse to head outside and enjoy the nice weather of the warm months ahead.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Step 1: Choose your space carefully. Most vegetables like plenty of heat and sunlight, so choose a spot where they get plenty of both.  If you are limited by space and need to plant your herbs and vegetables in pots, make sure you choose the sunniest position on your balcony or courtyard.  Don’t be deterred by space limits: it could surprise you to see what a single plant can do.  Just one chilli plant can provide an abundance of fresh, fiery goodness for a while to come.

Step 2: Planning! Deciding what to plant and learning how to care for them comes down to good planning. Plan for your part of Australia: what works in a Hobart garden is not going to be what works in north Queensland!  If you plan it right, you can enjoy a beautiful garden full of delicious vegetables and herbs all summer long.  For a great overview of what yummy foods can go into the ground right now in your part of Australia, check out the Gardenate website.

Plants such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil are amongst the fussiest. It’s important to plant them in the sunniest spot as they thrive off heat in order to grow and mature. Melons, squash, and other plants with vines should ideally be planted at the edge of your vegetable bed so the leaves attached to the vines don’t cover your other plants. If they’re planted at the edge of the bed then the vines can spread out across the grass or path etc. Anything that grows up, such as peas, beans and cucumbers will need to be planted where they won’t cover the other vegetables. Plants like lettuce or spinach prefer cooler, shadier areas – the sun is not their friend.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Step 3: Think about which vegetables you and your family will genuinely want, and start small.  Remember that vegetables are perishable, and the plants planted at the same time will tend to be ready at the same time. Try not plant so many that you harvest far more than you really want. Most new gardeners tend to get a little excited and want to plant every vegetable under the sun. Another trap new gardeners fall into is space issues. They see these small seedlings and don’t always realise how big they are going to grow. Be careful not to overcrowd your vegetable garden. This is where the previous step is so important. Plan, plan, plan! Think about what you and your family will most enjoy and start small.

Step 4: Get your soil ready.  Soil matters a great deal when creating a vegetable patch.  Most vegetables prefer a moist but well-drained soil rich in organic matter like compost.  Loosen the soil to aerate it, then work the compost into it, then rake it smooth and give it a proper watering.  At this point, the garden bed should rest for a few days before you plant your vegetables.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Step 5: Time to plant. Dig some holes and plant your seeds and seedlings.

Step 6: Water, feed and watch your garden grow. You want to keep the garden moist but don’t turn the area into a bath.  An inch or so of water each week is generally about right.  Some fertiliser is also very good to promote healthy plants and good yields.

Step 7: Hooray, it’s harvest time!  This is what everything has been leading up to.  Pick your food, don’t be shy! If you think it looks ready to eat then you are probably right.  Bon appétit!

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Tips:

– Irrigation is important when it comes to planting a vegetable garden. Plants such as celery, onions and strawberries don’t grow well in dry conditions. Areas of your garden that are slightly lower will retain more moisture or you may need to plan to provide irrigation to get consistent growth. See the Plant GrowGuides for more information.

– Certain plants need to be near others in order to pollinate well. The main one you need to consider is sweet corn which should be grown in blocks to ensure that it produces full cobs. The pollination process in all beans, peas, and tomatoes is called self-pollination because the transfer of pollen takes place within the individual flowers without the aid of insects or wind.

– Accessibility is also important when it comes to planning a vegetable garden. Ensure that you plant the seeds that you will use most often closest to the kitchen. Not only will it make your life nice and easy, you’ll have a great view and will see when each plant is ready to pick.

For more great spring cleaning home and garden ideas why not check out our guide to getting your backyard ready for summer.

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