Biting into a tasty veggie that you’ve grown in your own backyard is one of the simplest pleasures in life. Gardening is so much more than simply planting seeds; there are specific topics to explore as you plan your harvest. Cultivating your own vegetable garden doesn’t have to be complicated, and we’ve compiled a few essentials to consider before digging in.
Access your space
Work with what you’ve got. Take a look at the space you’ve chosen to start your vegetable garden. Once you identify the strengths and challenges of your yard, you can find vegetables to match your specific environment. Keep in mind:
- Size: Before you place your shovel in the soil, decide how much space you’re prepared to maintain…and how much produce you can eat! Start small, there is no need to spend heaps of time and energy if a small bounty is all you’re after. As your interest and confidence in gardening increase, so can your garden.
- Climate: Some vegetables need a warm, sunny home while others enjoy low temperatures and a cool environment. What is your space like? Most vegetables require “full sun” meaning they need at least six hours of sun per day; if not, they won’t bear as much and become more sensitive to insects and disease. “Part sun” or “semi shade” varieties need alternating sunlight and shade. “Full shade” plants thrive in the shadows made by heavy shrubbery or man-made structures like shade cloth or the roof of a porch.
Choose the plants
Now that you’ve identified how much space is available and the climate of your garden, you can pick which plants will be most successful. Be sure to research the maturity of each vegetable, to determine how large and how often they produce. For example, some plants like tomatoes, capsicum and pumpkin continue to grow throughout the season. Others like carrots, radishes and corn produce only once. Check the mature size of each crop to be sure your planting spot can accommodate each plant once it’s fully grown. Take into account that certain veggies, like cucumbers, love to sprawl out. To maximise the area you’ve got, try planting vegetables that can grow vertically on a trellis.
Test your soil
Now that you have a rough plan for your vegetable garden, ensure your plot is plant-friendly. Most vegetables do well in moist, well-drained soil rich with compost.
- Check your drainage: Completely soak the soil, wait a day then dig up a handful and close your fist around it. The ideal consistency is soft and crumbly, like a thick piece of cake. You can use compost or fertilisers to get it right if your soil seems too runny or too hard. If the consistency is giving you trouble, you can install a raised bed on the existing lawn to gain full control over the soil.
Put it on paper
Sketch out an outline of your garden and use graph paper to make a scale map. Draw up a simple plot with your garden’s rough measurements in all directions. Don’ be afraid to have fun with the shape; round, curved or square gardens add character to any yard.
Proper research and planning make for a successful and fruitful garden. Happy planting!