Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Basics Of Starting A Vegetable Garden

My  Personal Tip's That I Have Learnt Along The Way

Although giving the excess vegetables away is an option and I have mentioned it in my bartering thread, the perfect situation for your household, would be a time advantage, so this would my advice to make that happen.

Visit your local garden centre, as they can offer you the versatility of being able to buy 1 silver beet plant, 1 cabbage, and 1 cauliflower plant so that you can grow things in sequence as I often found when I was growing vegetables that everything was ready all together and it was too much for one family to be eat, so this would put a stop to that as you would plant things on a week by week basis.

When growing silverbeet it tends to go to seed very quickly and grow upwards in the middle, most people pull that plant out, but I have found if you cut that part out of the plant, the plant will continue to grow as normal.

Spring onions and Leeks if you cut them while they are growing in the garden above the root, apparently they will re grow again, I have been told this but have never actually tried it.

If you are growing cauliflower or broccoli  you can cut half a head of the plant while growing and the other half stays fresh as and continues to grow as half a head, this is a way of keeping your vegetables fresh, rather than cutting a full head and wasting it.

Potatoes in your potato bin that are starting to shoot, once you've peeled them plant the sprouted skins in a patch of your garden, they will grow into a patch of new potatoes.

If you find vegetables are not growing well in a certain patch of your garden, I have been told that by growing sunflowers in that particular patch will purify the soil and you should be right to restart planting your vegetables again,so that was a great tip to know.

If you grow rhubarb, which you should as it is such a great plant and so versatile  make sure around the base you add things like lawn clippings, egg shells, banana skins as this gives it a really good boast, and you will notice that it grows a lot better.

Tomatoes work beautifully if grown in buckets as you can move them around easily to get the benefit of the sun.

Herbs can be easily grown in pots on your window sill, easy to manage, and great for getting a better taste in your cooking as fresh herbs have much more flavour than dried herbs.

These are basic instructions, that I had been given along time ago, when I was going to endeavour to start a vegetable garden, so I hope they are helpful to you.
They are not my original ideas, but they are relevant.

The Basics To Growing A Vegetable Garden


Choosing a location for your garden is the most important step in the garden planning process. 
Vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight for best growth. 
Leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce will grow with less sunlight. 
Choose a location as far away as possible from trees and shrubs.
The roots of nearby trees and shrubs will rob your vegetables of needed nutrients and water.
Good soil with good drainage is needed. 
An option is to have your soil tested before you start gardening to determine if your soil is lacking any needed nutrients. 
Be sure your water source is close by.

What To Grow

Don't go overboard with your seed ordering after viewing all the colourful garden catalogues with their beautiful pictures of vegetables or you may be the gardener in your neighbourhood trying to give away all your hard grafted vegetables.
Grow only what your family likes to eat. 
As a first time gardener, stay away from vegetables like cauliflower or head lettuce.
Grow hybrid vegetables only.
Hybrid vegetables are usually stronger and healthier than other vegetables. 
They often have higher numbers.
Many have a built-in disease resistance and they are more likely to recover from bad weather. 
Hybrids may cost a little bit more than other types of vegetables, but the cost is worth it. 

Keep A garden Journal

Keep a garden journal of your activities in the garden.
Keep a list of the varieties of vegetables grown. 
Record seeding and planting dates, insect and disease problems, weather and harvest dates and numbers. This information will be valuable to you as you plan future gardens.

Here is a free download from Bosistos, with loads of handy hints for the garden

Draw a Plan

It is always a good idea to draw a plan of your garden.
It doesn't have to be a fancy diagram. 
Remember the tallest plants in your garden such as corn should be at the north end of the garden and permanent vegetables like asparagus should be at the side of the garden.

If you don't have space in your backyard or only have access to a sunny balcony or patio, you can still grow vegetables in containers.
A container for vegetables can be as simple as a cane basket lined with plastic, a hanging basket or a self contained growing unit like the earth box, or small glasshouse.
All containers, whether plastic or clay must have drainage. 
Soil in containers will dry out quickly, so frequent watering is necessary.
Containers with no drainage will cause your vegetables to develop root rot.
Use a sterilised, soil less mix for your container garden.
Soilless mixes are light and contain some organic matter. 
Fertilise with a slow-release vegetable garden fertiliser that is applied in the spring and will provide nutrients for your vegetables throughout the growing season.

Soil Preparation and Fertilisation

Before you can plant, soil preparation is a must.
Dig the soil to a depth of at least 6-10 inches.
Add a two to four inch layer of organic matter and incorporate it into the soil. 
Organic matter will improve your soil structure and will add nutrients to the soil.
Vegetables need nutrients to grow. 
A good vegetable garden fertiliser should have an analysis of something like 5-10-5, 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. The first number stands for the per cent of nitrogen, the second number the per cent of phosphorus and the third number the per cent of potassium. 
Nitrogen promotes green growth, phosphorus promotes root growth and fruit development and potassium promotes disease resistance and root development. 
If you are growing your vegetables organically, organic fertilisers like peat moss, compost or composted cow manure are a good source of nutrients for your vegetables.

Planning Techniques

Plan to use all the space in your garden.
Through planting techniques like vertical cropping, succession planting and inter cropping, you can make maximum use of the space you have.

Vertical Cropping
Train vegetables like pole beans, peas, cucumbers and pumpkin to some type of support to save space in the garden.
Existing fences, poles, wire cages, trellises can be used for support.

Succession Planting
This technique involves growing a crop like lettuce in the spring and replacing it when the warm weather hits with a crop like beans. 
In the late summer, you can reverse the process and replace the beans with a cool season crop like lettuce or radishes.

Inter cropping
Inter cropping is the growing technique of planting fast growing vegetables among slow growing vegetables. An example of this technique would be planting radishes, lettuce or green onions among caged tomato plants

Planning Tips

Check old vegetable seeds for germination. 
Wet a paper towel and place the seeds in a row about an inch from the edge. 
Roll the paper towel up from the opposite side and put the towel in a warm area like the top of the refrigerator. 
Mist the towel to keep it moist. 
After 10 to 14 days, unroll the towel and check the number of seeds that have germinated. 
If less than half have germinated, either discard or seed more heavily this spring.
Clean your garden tools. 
Remove soil and use a wire brush to remove rust.
Prepare a mixture of a bottle of motor oil and builder's sand in a five-gallon bucket. Dip the tools into the sand several times to clean and prevent rusting. 
This mixture can be used over and over again. Treat the handles with boiled linseed oil and paint the handles with a bright colour to make them easier to find in the garden.
Avoid damping off with seedlings. 
Damping off is a major threat to young seedlings being grown indoors.
Damping off thrives in cold, humid, wet, conditions with poor air circulation.
Symptoms of damping off include curling, wilting and collapse of emerged seedlings.
Some preventative measures that will reduce the likelihood of damping off include: Use high-quality, treated seed; use sanitised soil and containers; keep soil on the dry side; and provide plenty of light and air circulation to the seedlings.
In the spring, never work your soil when it is wet. 
Tilling or digging when the soil is wet will cause it to dry into concrete-like clods. 
Pick up a handful of soil before digging and squeeze. 
If it crumbles easily, it is ready to be tilled.
If it doesn't crumble, it is too wet. 
Allow the soil to dry for a couple of more days and test again before digging.

Basic Tools
Hoe: Great for weeding, covering seeds and chopping up the soil.
Rake: Used to prepare the seedbed and to break-up large clods of soil.
Spade: Used to dig up the garden in preparation for planting and for adding organic matter to the soil.
Trowel: Used for digging holes for transplants and breaking up the soil around plants.
Labels, string, ruler: Used to layout rows and measure correct spacing. 
Each vegetable should have a label with the name of the vegetable and the date seeded or planted on it.
Watering can: Use to water in seeds and transplants.

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