So you’re thinking of creating a new vegetable patch in your garden? Well, that’s good timing, as this week I’ve started working on my vegetable garden.
To be honest I don’t know if I could survive without my vegetable garden. It’s not so much the eating, although that is probably the best part, 🙂 it’s actually more the enjoyment one gets from planting a tiny little seed, and them watching it grow from such fragile beginnings into something gorgeous and edible.
Back in 2007 when we found this plot it was the garden that convinced us to buy. We knew we wanted to grow our own food and having all this space brought that dream a bit closer.
We knew we wanted to grow our own food and with all this space the dream could become reality. Now, seven years on we have a fabulous productive veg garden that provides for us for approximately 9 months of the year.
This weekend was the first dry opportunity we’ve had to get onto the garden, so Saturday morning I pulled on the wellies and headed for the hills!
As I was leaning on my fork and sipping what must have been my third cup of tea, I thought there must be loads of people out there thinking of starting their own veg garden. So I thought I’d pass on a few tips and suggestions which have helped us along the way.
How to get started.
Before we started on our veg garden we visited a few gardens to get some inspiration, in particular, Heligan in Cornwall which for me are the best gardens in this country and has the most amazing vegetable garden.
Then as with all my projects I put together a rough layout on paper. Simple sketches, nothing fancy.
You’ll need to rotate your veggies.
All it means is try not to grow the same vegetable groups in the same spot each year. At Blackbirds we’ve created a tapestry of 4 squares. They’re not exactly uniform in size but it still means we can set up a rotation system. Rotating your vegetables simply means not growing in the same place 2 years running. With
Rotating your vegetables essentially means not growing the same in the same place 2 years running. With a four-stage system you avoid planting in the same place for 3 years.
If you’re stuck for space …
If you have a small plot you can always head down to your local builders merchants and buy a few lengths of 8 x 1 concrete shuttering board. Cut them to size (according how space you have) and nail them together to make what is essentially a bottomless box.
Fill the box with a mix of top soil and compost and you have the perfect veg patch!
Just make sure you position it on a spot where it drains well. Put it on concrete and your veggies will drown! 😦
My top ten tips for a great veg patch …
Tip number 1 – Keep the weeds down.
If there is one piece of advice i would share with anyone it is try to keep your veg garden as weed free as possible. Give your veggies plenty of space so you can weed quite easily.
Spring and Summer I try to weed most days as it just makes the job of growing so much easier. Doesn’t have to be much, just run a hoe up the rows and you’ll enjoy your garden so much more. Remember, little and often is the secret.
Tip number 2 – Try and be organic.
One of my most favourite places in the entire world is Heligan in Cornwall. Speaking to the gardeners they explain how its not possible to be 100% organic as sometimes there is no alternative to chemicals. But I say do as much as you possibly can to be organic. Nature will always work its magic on the garden.
Tip number 3– Treat your soil as your best friend.
Work in lots and I mean LOTS of organic matter into the soil. It’s the one thing that will turn your soil into a good growing medium. If you’re on clay soil compost helps with breaking down the clay and if like me you’re on light chalky soil it will help to bulk it up …
Tip number 4 – Successional sowing.
Don’t plant everything at the same time or your vegetables will all come at once.
Tip number 5 – Don’t plant too close.
Allow plenty of space between the rows and you’ll find it much easier to keep tidy and you’ll get bigger and jucier vegetables.
Tip number 6 – Grow more of what you like and less of what you don’t like.
Sounds obvious but when you’re buying your seeds at the beginning of the year take your time and select what you know you’re going to eat. It’s all too easy to grab everything on rack in a mad fit of enthusiasm. Having said that every year I think I’ll grow something unusual and each year it gets wasted. But hey … What the heck! … grow what makes you happy. 🙂
Tip number 7 – Keep your plot tidy.
Nothing worse than vegetables that are surrounded by a sea of weeds and rubbish … And it encourages pests and diseases.
Tip number 8 – You’re going to need water … and plenty of it!
If possible, position your veg patch near to a water supply. You’re going to need a lot of water in the summer months and its blooming heavy to carry.
Tip number 9 – Don’t be a hurry to plant your seeds.
Allow the soil to warm up. By waiting for the temperature to rise more seeds will germinate and you’ll get more veg for your money.
Tip number 10 – Companion plant.
My final tip is to companion plant. Companion planting is where you plant varieties of veg that support each others growing conditions. Best example is planting carrot seeds next to your onion sets. Carrot fly hate the smell of onions and so keep away. Basil planted alongside tomatoes keep the worst of the whitefly off your tomato plants. Scour the internet and you’ll find loads of examples of companion planting.
Hopefully, this has given you a few pointers as we move towards the time of year when you’re thinking of growing a few veggies for the dinner table.
So if you’re considering having a go at growing a few veggies then above all:
- Enjoy it!
- Occasionally stop digging and admire all your hard work.
- Keep your veggies well watered and they’ll respond twenty fold.
- Remember to feel that sense of pride when you know, as you place that bowl of carrots onto the dinner table and can proudly say … I grew those!
Just before I go I wanted to say thank you so very much to everyone that follows my ramblings and for all the wonderful feedback we recieve. It really does mean a lot to us and encourages us to continue. Only wish we had more time to share more.