More and more people are choosing to grow vegetables in their vegetable gardens rather than purchasing them from the store. But growing your vegetables requires some vegetable garden planning and preparation.
Some important aspects to keep in mind while doing your garden planning should include the following:
- Garden bed preparation.
- Soil fertility. Every gardener knows that the key to a beautiful garden is the soil – therefore, you need to nurture it to enhance soil fertility and quality.
- Composting & Mulching. If you grow vegetables at home, the first place to start improving your health is via healthy plants growing in healthy fertile soil. You can easily make your compost at home and use it when composting your vegetable garden.
- Seed selection.
- Garden pests and diseases.
- Companion planting.
- Container gardening.
- Vegetable varieties.
- Crop spacing
All of the above is especially important if you want to get the best possible harvest. Luckily for you, we have dealt with a number of these in some of our other blogs, so make sure you visit our Newsroom to read more. In this article, Contours Landscapes will discuss ten key essentials for a healthy Vegetable Garden.
01. LET THE SUN IN
You need an area with at least 6 hours of sun a day, preferably North facing. Moreover, there should not be obstructions that may cast shadows. So before starting your Vegetable Garden and your garden bed preparation, ensure enough sunlight.
02. BUILD UP SOIL fertility and soil quality
Building up the soil and improving soil fertility is possibly the most important step in growing gourmet vegetables. Fertile soil will markedly improve the quality of your crop. Without healthy soil, sufficient water, and regular fertilising, your plants will not be able to grow healthy, strong roots. Strong roots will enable your vegetable plants to reach enough nutrients. Furthermore, this will encourage 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 detrimental results. Soil that is constantly too wet, will cause root rot. To blend your own soil from scratch, mix an equal part of organic matter (compost) and river sand. Of course, it is also a great idea to mix in kraal manure and bone meal. Hopefully, you are making your own compost at home. It is very easy and cost-effective to do it.
03. ARRANGE PLANTS FOR MAXIMUM YIELD
As mentioned previously, Crop spacing is very important. Just as important as spacing is the shape in which you plant your vegetables. Planting in triangles allows for 10-14% more plants in each bed. Be sure to keep this fact in mind when doing your vegetable garden bed preparation. Always consider what the full size of the plants will be when fully established. This is important to prevent overcrowding. When overcrowded, some plants won’t reach their full size or yield and they will become more vulnerable to diseases and insect attacks.
The combination of Marigolds and raised planters keep unwelcome visitors away from your crops.
04. COMPANION PLANTING in your vegetable garden
Companion planting has been around for thousands of years. It dates 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.
05. STRETCH A SEASON
Add a few weeks to each end of the growing season by keeping the air around your plants warm. You can achieve this, 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 sunshine. Furthermore, make use of windbreaks when possible and apply deep mulches under row covers to extend the harvest of your vegetables.
06. 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.
07. AVOID PESTICIDES
Is it possible to make homemade organic pesticides? Of course, it is! To make your own organic pest control solution, you simply need to mix a few household ingredients. Mix the following and spray onto infected plants as needed. Refrigerate the mixture and keep it for up to a week.
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 crushed red chilli
- A tablespoon of cooking oil
- One teaspoon of dishwashing liquid
- 1 litre of water
08. PRACTISE REGULAR MAINTENANCE in your vegetable garden
Remove dead leaves from plants, water daily, and mulch in excessive heat. (Remember that you can use the dead leaves to make your own compost!) Consistently check for the presence of any unwanted pests and diseases and get rid of them as soon as possible. Weeds should not be tolerated, and you must remove any weeds before they can grow and suffocate your vegetables. There are a number of Garden Maintenance tasks specifically related to Autumn. We cover all of these tasks in a separate blog.
09. GROW PLANTS in your vegetable Garden 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. This has the added benefit of keeping the fruits off the soil, preventing rotting and infection from pests. A strong trellis or another suitable framework can be easily customised to fit nearly any area.
10. HAVE FUN creating and maintaining your very own vegetable garden!
Starting a Vegetable Garden and 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 vegetable growing, everyone!