Growing your own vegetables is very rewarding, nothing tastes as amazing as a bowl of totally home grown vegetables. This three part free beginners series to Starting a Vegetable Garden, will get you set up ready to follow along with our Weekly Gardening Series. As always, if you have any questions along the way, please just ask, I am all too happy to help!
The First Step in Starting a Vegetable Garden – Seeds
The first thing you need to do when starting a vegetable garden is order/buy/steal some seeds if you plan to grow from seed. I prefer to buy organic seeds from somewhere like Kings Seeds (NZ), there are lovely boutique family run heritage seed producers like Seeds for Generations (US) . For zones 8, 9 and 10 you should try carrots, kale, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, onions, leeks, beetroot, peas and swiss chard/silverbeet to start off with. These are all fairly easy to grow.
Step Two in Starting a Vegetable Garden – DIG!
Once your seeds are on their way you can start prepping your garden. We are lucky we are starting from weedless bare dirt. Find a plot in your yard or existing garden that gets plenty of sun and drains well.
Watch the sun and shadows on your yard at different times of day for a few days and find the place that gets the most sun. Well drained soil at this time of year won’t be boggy or mossy, but will probably still be damp.
If there is puddles, sloppy mud or it is covered in moss or buttercups it is probably too wet to use – but you could try a no-dig built up garden like this.
Once you have found your sunny patch, mark it out and remove any weeds growing in the area. If it is a new garden, scoop off the lawn and roots with a shovel and toss them in a pile somewhere to rot down.
The dirt that is left in your new garden break up with a garden fork so you are left with fine lumps of soil.
To this you can add any of the following: Well rotted compost, stable waste, grass-eating-animal manure (cow, sheep, horse, rabbit, goat etc), kelp or sea lettuce, bought compost or worm castings. Be generous and fork it in lightly.
A Quick Lesson in Mulching
I like to mulch my entire vegetable garden in wood mulch (the result when you shred whole branches, bark, wood and leaves all in together). I find it suppresses weeds very well, breaks down beautifully, doesn’t steal nitrogen from the dirt (as long as it is put on top not mixed into the soil) and it encourages worms like you wouldn’t believe.
I have tried straw in the past and it is definitely better than nothing. But next time I would throw it to the chooks first and get them to eat the remaining wheat/oat seeds as I had lots of them sprouting up in the garden.
With a good thick mulch you just part the mulch to plant your seedlings, or pull it back entirely when sowing directly, replacing it around the plants once they have grown.
I have ordered 11m3 of wood mulch from our local arborist, you might be lucky enough to find some for free however we will be paying for this first lot, but it will cover a massive area.
I am keen to suppress weeds as best I can as soon as I can seeing as we are lucky enough to be starting with weedless bare dirt, and we are competing with couch (said kooch) grass, buttercups and gorse seedlings.
Read here for Episode Two.
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