These days, we have become dependent on buying ready washed and cut fruit and vegetables from a store either because we do not have time to do it ourselves or because we do not have the necessary knowledge to grow our own. Wouldn’t it be nice to plant and grow your own fruit and vegetables in your garden, to be able to watch small seeds grow and blossom every day? There are so many benefits to growing and maintaining your own garden – firstly a huge saving on daily, weekly and monthly shopping, the convenience of the fresh produce on your premises so you can use it when needed and of course you are making a vital contribution to the environment.
There are a few important factors to keep in mind once you have decided to start your own vegetable garden – let’s take a look at some of these factors:
The size of the gardenis very important. If you would like a small patch to grow some herbs and lettuce then a small 2×2 spot will suffice. However, if you would like to grow enough vegetables to fully sustain you or to sell at a local farmer’s market then you will need to allocate a larger area to this or create a small orchard.
The soilneeded for the vegetable garden must be very fertile and often the soil found in our gardens is not fertile enough. The soil needs to be rich in nutrients in order for the plants to grow. If the soil is fertile it will be dark in colour and clumps will break apart easily when digging. If the soil in your garden is too dry or sandy, it is recommended that you purchase some soil from local gardening suppliers. To maintain the soil, fertilisers should be used, which can be purchased from various manufacturers.
The locationof your garden is very important. The garden will need sun yet some plants also require shade. Depending on your needs, you can make 2 small separate plots, one in the sun and one that gets more shade so that your garden can get the best of both worlds. Please ensure that you are not starting your garden near buildings as pipes and construction can hinder its progress.
It is important think carefully when selecting the vegetablesyou would like to grow and which best suit your needs. Ensure that the vegetables that you have chosen are best suited for your climate, soil quality, size capacity and compatible with your work schedule so that you can give your garden the time it needs. There are many plants that simply grow anywhere after you put the seeds down however there are also many plants that need more attentive care. When selecting your vegetables, keep in mind that some vegetables are seasonal so choosing both summer and winter plants will ensure that you have enough produce throughout the year.
Crop rotationis a very important. After every harvest, plant a different vegetable in each section. Different plants use different amount of nutrients and by rotating the crops, it will ensure that the soil is not depleted of its supply of nutrients. There will also be a nice variety in your garden. If you keep a garden plan with records of everything planted, you will know when to rotate your crops and thus ensure that your garden is always healthy and beautiful.
Keeping a recordof your crops will ensure that you are always aware of what you have planted in your garden and if there is a decline, it will be easier to know when new soil or crop rotation is needed. Record keeping will also help if you plan to sell your vegetables as you can plan and note your sales correctly.
If you enjoy gardening and your vegetable garden is going to be your new hobby and source of fresh produce then you will need to invest in the correct tools. Gardening tools should last for many seasons and should be easy to use.
Once you have planted the seeds and started your beautiful vegetable garden, it is important to maintain the garden and watering is a must! The garden should be wateredat least 3 times a week for about 25 minutes if there has been no rain. If you see that your plants wilt easily then it will have to be done more often. The soil should always be damp to the touch as this ensures that the moisture does not evaporate. It is important to ensure that there is an easily accessible water source in your garden.
Certain varieties of vegetables thrive in South Africa’s winter months. Root crops such as carrots, beetroot, radishes, turnips, leeks and onions are sweet tasting in winter. Other plants such as Brassicas which include broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower as well as leaf crops such as lettuce, chard, spinach and Asian greens do very well in the milder months. Legumes such as peas and beans are also winter crops.
When you decide to grow your own vegetable garden, take time to do the necessary research about the different plants, the climate, the soil and fertilisers needed. It is also important to plan the size and location of the garden as well as the time needed to invest and grow the garden. Growing a vegetable garden is an investment in your health as you will be eating fresh organic produce, you will be saving time and money as you don’t have to go to the shops, you will have the produce right in your own home and most of all you will enjoy creating something new, beautiful, something you can be proud of and call your own.