Whether you have a large backyard or just a small courtyard, it’s easy to start a veggie garden and reap the benefits of growing your own produce. A veggie garden can be started for little money, even with minimal space and can provide a positive and rewarding hobby for the whole family. At Bittern Garden Supplies, we are the leading centre for garden supplies Somerville and Mornington locals know and trust. If you are considering creating your own veggie patch but aren’t sure where to start, we have made it easy for you with this short guide outlining the things to consider before you plant and how to feed and care for your veggies ensuring maximum productivity.
Select the Right Spot
For most vegetables to thrive, a veggie patch requires at least five hours of sunlight per day, so you will need to pick a spot that receives a sufficient natural light. There are some fruits and vegetables which require shade, but you can easily create this with the use of netting. Veggie plants should also receive equal water and sunlight distribution so a flat patch of land is ideal. It’s also best to keep a vegetable garden away from other plants, otherwise neighbouring bushes can absorb water and soil nutrients, depriving your vegetable patch of the essential ingredients they need to grow.
Consider the Type of Garden Beds
Depending on the size of your yard, you can either create one long garden bed, or plant several beds. It is generally recommended to plant several smaller beds so that plants with similar requirements can be grown together. Then you need to decide whether to create in-ground or raised garden beds.
- In-ground beds – preferable in warmer climates as they require less watering. They are also easier to construct, as they don’t need wooden slabs, like raised beds.
- Raised garden beds – preferable in colder climates since the soil warms faster in spring and drains more efficiently, enabling you to begin planting sooner. The sides serve as a barrier to weeds and pests and they also provide better drainage than in-ground beds.
Preparing the Soil
Soil should be well-aerated to help roots grow and maximise drainage. It should be free of stones and other obstructions for optimum root growth. You should also:
- Determine the soil pH – this is the level of acidity or alkalinity in the soil. Most plants thrive in soil with a pH that is slightly acidic, however there are exceptions, such as beets which enjoy alkaline conditions. You can check the pH level of the soil before planting by using a soil test kit from your local garden supply centre. If your soil is too acidic try adding lime, bone meal, or wood ashes. To improve alkaline soil, try adding sulphur or organic matter such as peat moss, sawdust or pine needles.
- Add compost – organic matter helps to create rich, nutrient-filled soil that provides the essential nutrients for plants to grow, making the use of artificial fertilisers unnecessary.
Planting your Crops
There’s a few considerations when it comes to selecting veggies and planting. When choosing plants, it’s important to consider the climate as certain vegetables will thrive in warmer weather, but may be disease-prone and difficult to cultivate in colder climates. You can also decide when to plant crops based on their climate requirements. Vegetables that require high temperatures will need to be planted and given time to grow in the warmer months of the year. The overall layout and configuration also needs careful consideration. The two main approaches to planting vegetables are row cropping and intensive cropping. Intensive cropping is generally recommended for smaller patches, as it enables you to compact more vegetables into a smaller space. Remember that plants need space to breathe and flourish so don’t overcrowd your garden beds.
Caring for Your Crops
- Mulching – adding mulch to your patch will help your garden to retain moisture during the warmer months, suppress weeds, and prevent soil crusting. Mulch should be placed on the ground surrounding each plant, usually on a yearly basis. There are two types of mulch: organic and in-organic. Organic includes formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust and pine needles. In-organic includes gravel, stones, black plastic and fabrics. While organic mulch improves the soil as it decomposes, inorganic mulch still has its benefits, for example black plastic warms the temperature of the soil, radiating warmth for heat-loving vegetables.
- Watering – plants need to be watered frequently, at least every day for the first few days. After that, you can slightly reduce the amount and frequency. This reduction will encourage the roots of plants to grow deeper in search of water and ultimately help your crops to grow into strong, healthy plants.
If you need expert advice on creating a veggie patch get in touch with us today. We have all the garden supplies you need to ensure a thriving, fruitful vegetable garden from mulch and organic compost to soil, rocks and pebbles. Contact our team on 5983 9779 or visit our conveniently located centre today.