Top 10 – How to Create a Small Vegetable Garden
Create a manageable vegetable garden this summer
Growing your own vegetables is beneficial on so many levels. It’s eco-friendly, you know where your food is coming from and it saves you money. Plus, it’s a great way to get children connected and interested in what they are eating.
We’ve pulled together a few tips to creating your own manageable vegetable garden, including the easiest plants to start growing.
1. Selecting your area – Give vegetables the sunniest spot you have on offer. Sunshine provides vegetables with better growth, less disease and sweeter flavours (particularly for onions, tomatoes and carrots). Leave the shade for salad leaves.
2. Soil matters – Most garden soils will be absolutely fine for growing vegetables, but try to avoid extremes. If your soil is too thin (i.e. less than a spade deep), full of stones or has too much clay, then try to build raised beds or grow crops in large pots.
3. Avoiding pests – You can reduce the number of pests you have by being diligent with clearing out weeds and excess leaves. This removes the hiding places where slugs and snails like to live. For the same reason, try to avoid long grass or dense flower borders beside your vegetable garden. Creating elevated soil borders between plots also makes it difficult for these molluscs to attack your vegetables.
4. Weed-free plots – Before you start growing any vegetables, make sure you have a weed-free area. If the chemical-free approach is your preferred method, then pull out weeds by the roots to remove them completely.
5. Perennial weeds – If you’re suffering from perennial weeds, that survive over winter and spread deep roots, then cover the soil with card or newspaper topped with 5cms of soft compost. This should stop persistent weeds from re-growing. The soft compost also allows you to plant pot-grown vegetables when you’re ready.
6. Vegetable rotation – Try to avoid growing the same crop in the same spot two years running. Rotation is a systematic method of deciding where to plant your vegetables from one year to the next, based on plant groups. Crop rotation helps keep your soil healthy and fertile and allows plant families to manage soil-borne diseases better than a single plant grown in the same patch every year.
7. Which plants to purchase? – Don’t feel like you need to grow everything from scratch, especially to begin with. Some vegetables will grow better when purchased as a fully developed plant. For instance, chillies and aubergines are slow-starting seeds that require a heated propagator, so these are worth purchasing in plant form.
8. Seed advice – Always follow the advice given on seed packets. Never sow seeds earlier than advised, as plants that start growing in low light may never recover. It’s better to start sowing in the middle/end of the recommended period, so that seedlings have the greatest chance of survival.
9. Make your own compost – Creating your own compost is a great way to help feed your vegetables. You can make this easily from lawn clippings and left-over kitchen peelings.
10. Choose your vegetables wisely – If you’re growing vegetables for the first time, then it’s worth selecting plants that are easy to grow. These include; beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chard, corn, endive, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, lettuce, okra, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash, tomatoes or turnips.
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