Veggie Patch 101
More time at home is an excellent opportunity to get into the garden. Why not start producing some of your food, saving money and getting some nutrients into your diet, as well as getting the chance to spend some relaxing and restorative time in nature. These expert tips from our Horticulture team will help you get your veggie garden off to a cracking start!
Decide on a spot
Ideally, select a location that is accessible and convenient enough so that you can give your veggies a good water, weed your patch and harvest with ease. Most vegetables require between six to eight hours of sun per day, so keep this in mind when choosing your location. Avoid areas that tend to become waterlogged – a slightly elevated area is ideal. If you're growing veggies in containers, make sure there are adequate drainage holes.
Got a backyard?
If you have the space for a veggie garden in the backyard, you can either plant into plots and rows or a raised garden bed. Larger plots generally require more attention, while smaller beds keep plants fairly close together, protecting soil from moisture loss.
Working with a Balcony?
If you're limited to a balcony, you can still grow veggies! With a bit of prep, most vegetables can be grown in pots and containers on your balcony. The most important factor is sunlight – your balcony should get a decent amount of sun a day for your plants to thrive, at least six hours. Any pots and containers you're using need to have top-notch drainage to avoid waterlogged plants, and use a nutrient-dense, pot-specific potting mix.
Organising your veggie garden
Vegetables often require specific amounts of space to grow properly, so once you have an idea of what you'd like to plant, its worth researching how much room they need, other types of plants they grow well with and the soil types they prefer. Some plants are in it for the long haul and will produce veggies throughout the whole season, and others will only produce once. Be mindful that bigger and taller plants can block smaller plants from receiving sunlight that they need.
Prepare the soil for your veggie garden
Before you can start sowing seeds and popping in seedlings, your soil needs to be healthy and prepared to ensure your plants will grow. If your soil is dry, or excessively clay-ey increasing its tendency to become waterlogged, you can adjust it with organic matter or gypsum. Adding organic matter like compost is also a great way to amp up its nutritional content by adding vital nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.
Plant your veggie garden
You are ready to get planting! We recommend delicious winter veggies like peas, broccoli, and broad beans. You can plant your seeds straight into the soil, or get them going in seedling pots until they've grown up a little and are more robust. To ensure your seeds germinate and gain some strength before the big move to your garden, sow them directly into the ground, or get the growing in a seedling pot
Caring for your veggie garden
The best time to give your vegetable garden a proper watering in the early morning, to prevent water from evaporating before it's absorbed while ensuring any leaves can dry before nightfall to avoid fungus or mould issues as a result of dampness.
One of the best ways to add some nutrients to your vegetable garden is using compost, so if you have a compost bin mix some of that good stuff into the soil. If not, liquid fertilisers can give your garden the boost it needs.
Weeding often is the best way to prevent the weeds from maturing and producing seed! Aim for a weekly weeding session (great exercise) and note that post-rain is the most efficient time to weed as weeds will leave the soil more readily. Firmly pinch the base of the weed, and gently pull to dislodge it fully.
Keeping your garden neat and tidy is a great way to discourage pesky insects from snacking on your veggies. Clean up leaf litter, weeds, and dead plants, and encourage beneficial wildlife like lizards and wasps, which naturally deter peskier critters.