Gardening Right

The ultimate guide for having a more beautiful, abundant garden!

Gardening is a great way to relieve stress, get some exercise, and engage in a healthier way of life for you and your family. Watching the fruits of your labor bloom and blossom or tasting vegetables that are fresh from your own garden could never be more rewarding!

Growing Vegetables

 

Getting your vegetable garden plan on paper or on the computer will give you direction, help keep you focused, and help you to be able to allocate space for all the vegetables you wish to grow.You will need to write measurements on this drawing. You can get this information from your title or measure it yourself using a long tape measure or a piece of string marked off in feet or meters.

 

It's easier to have two people if you need to measure your block - one for each end of the string or tape measure. Next you will need to plan how much space in your yard you want to allocate to your vegetable garden. Don't worry if you only have a small space for your vegetable garden. Think vertical. Many vegetables can grow up on a fence, trellis or tepee to make your available space more productive.

 

Make a grid of squares on paper or use graph paper. If you have a large garden, each square could represent 5 feet (1.5 metres - or 1 metre). If your garden is small, each square could represent 1 foot (30cm). Transfer your rough plan of your yard onto the grid or graph paper using a ruler to draw your straight lines.

 

Now you will need to decide on which vegetables to grow in your garden. If you are new to vegetable gardening, you may like to start with some of the easier to grow vegetables. Easy vegetables to grow include beetroot, swiss chard (silverbeet), broad beans, carrots, lettuce, shallots, peas (including sugar snap and snow peas), green beans, radishes, potatoes and tomatoes.

 

It is a good idea to make a list of the vegetables and herbs you eat and cook with on a regular basis and maybe even add a few you would like to try. You could look at the seed packets or seedling punnets available at your garden supply store to get new ideas.

 

If you only have space for a small vegetable garden, you may choose to grow vegetables and herbs which produce a decent harvest in a short amount of time and do not take up much space (such as carrots, radishes, lettuces, chives, parsley, leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes and bush snap beans). You may wish to avoid those that take up a lot of room and time only to return a small harvest (such as sweet corn, pumpkins and melons).

 

When deciding of how many of each plant to grow, you must take into account how much of that vegetable you are likely to eat and also the average yield for that vegetable. Some plants may yield a prolific crop. If you plant too many, you may find your family getting tired of your creative ways of cooking zucchini (boiled zucchini, stir-fried zucchini, scrambled zucchini, broiled zucchini, baked zucchini, poached zucchini, zucchini burgers, zucchini soup, zucchini pancakes, zucchini muffins, ......)

 

Now plan where to plant the vegetables from your list. See idea of a gardening planning grid below.

 

Bear in mind the following points:


  • Different vegetables have different space requirements. For example, one broccoli plant will require more room than one carrot plant and one pumpkin plant can ramble all over your back yard. Make sure you leave enough space for the mature plant. The gardening software I used makes it easy to see the space needed for the fully mature plant.


  • You don't want taller vegetables such as sweet corn and tomatoes blocking the sun from the lower varieties such as lettuces and spinach.


  • Some vegetables such as sweet corn do better if they are planted together so they can easily cross-fertilize.


  • It is important to practice crop rotation. If you plant the same family of vegetables in the same plot each year, it may encourage the build up of pests and diseases in the soil. Crop rotation will also avoid depleting the soil of nutrients. The main vegetable families for crop rotation include:

    • brassicas: cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, kale, swedes, turnips, radishes, salad rocket, kohl rabi, mustard

    • potato: potatoes, eggplants, capsicums, tomatoes

    • legume: beans, peas, broad beans

    • onion: onions, garlic, shallots, leeks

    • carrot: carrots, parsnips, celery, celeriac

    ... for example - don't plant broccoli in a spot one year, then cauliflower in the same spot next year since they are both from the brassica family. The vegetable garden software I used will keep track of where you position each vegetable and will give you a warning in subsequent years if you try to plant something from the same family in that spot. (Check out my crop rotation vegetable garden.)

  • It will make cultivation of your soil easier if you separate your perennial crops (which live for three years or more) such as rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, asparagus, oregano, rosemary and sage from your other vegetables which are mostly annual (living for one year or less).


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