10 Great Tips to Starting Your Own Veggie Garden
More and more people are choosing to grow their own vegetables, rather than purchasing them from the store. But growing your own veggies requires a bit of planning and preparation if you want to get the best harvest. Here are 10 key essentials for a healthy and delicious garden. Grow your own Vegetables!
1. LET THE SUN IN
You need a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day, preferably North facing, without obstructions that may cast shadows.
2. BUILD UP THE SOIL
Building up the soil is possibly the most important step in growing gourmet veg. Without healthy soil, sufficient water and regular fertilising, your plants will not be able to grow healthy, strong roots, which enable them to reach enough nutrients, encouraging lush and productive growth. Good drainage is also extremely important. Just as too little water can kill your plants, over watering will have the same results, as it will cause root rot. To blend your own soil from scratch, mix an equal part of compost, river sand and organic matter (compost). Mix in kraal manure and bone meal.
3. ARRANGE PLANTS FOR MAXIMUM YIELD
Planting in triangles allows for 10-14 percent more plants in each bed. Although always consider what the full size of the plants will be when fully established to prevent over- crowding though, or some plants won’t reach their full size or yield and will become more vulnerable to diseases and insect attacks.
The combination of Marigolds and raised planters keep unwelcome visitors away from your crops.
4. COMPANION PLANTING
Companion planting has been around for thousands of years, dating back to traditional gardening methods found in ancient Asia. Companion plants are plants that are mutually beneficial to one another, providing protection or improving the growth of certain vegetables. For example, herbs such as parsley, basil, garlic, chives and coriander repel insects to prevent a dreaded bug infestation. A more detailed list of companion plants can be found on www.organicgardening.com.
5. STRETCH A SEASON
Add a few weeks to each end of the growing season by keeping the air around your plants warm, even in cold weather, with the assistance of mulches, cloches, row covers or cold frames. Best practice includes putting your winter garden in a spot that will receive lots of sun, using windbreaks when possible and applying deep mulches under row covers to extend the harvest of your vegetables.
6. SUCCESSION PLANTING
This will enable you to grow more than one crop in a space during a growing season, enabling the harvest of 3 or 4 crops from a single area. Read more about getting the most from your succession planting when growing your own veggies, here.
7. AVOID PESTICIDES
To make your own organic pest control mixture, mix 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 crushed red chilli, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid to 1 litre of water, and spray onto infected plants as needed. Refrigerate the mixture and keep it for up to a week.
8. PRACTISE REGULAR GARDEN MAINTENANCE
Remove dead leaves, water daily, and mulch in excessive heat.
9. GROW PLANTS VERTICALLY
Growing your own veggies vertically is a smart solution for those with limited outdoor space. Numerous vegetables, including tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, pole beans, gourds, melons, squashes and pumpkins, can be grown vertically which has the added benefit of keeping the fruits off the soil, preventing rotting and infection from pests. A strong trellis or other suitable framework can be easily customised to fit nearly any area. Have a look at our Food Gardens page on Pinterest for more inspiration.
10. HAVE FUN!
Growing vegetables can be fun and rewarding. You get to spend time with nature and your family, soak up some Vitamin D, and the reward for all your hard work is not only a beautiful vegetable garden, but some delicious, home-grown meals as well.
Happy growing everyone!