No more procrastinating. Go and get yourself some packets of seeds, or some seedlings and get planning.
I promise that starting a garden isn't scary. It's as easy as sticking a seed or seedling in the soil and giving it some water. Of course certain things will increase your plant's chances for success, but it really isn't hard.
For most Australians, spring is the best time to start a vegetable garden. It's when the days are getting longer and the soil is warming up enough to grow vegetables productively.
What do I do first?
Choose your growing spot. You're going to need plenty of sunlight, so make sure your area isn't shaded and receives sunlight for most of the day.
You'll also want a water source nearby. Bucketing water to plants isn't fun for anyone, so make sure you are able to freely water your plants.
Then you'll need to prepare your soil. If you are growing in the ground you'll need to turn the soil over. This can be done with just a garden fork or a rotary hoe is useful for large areas. Usually you do this, wait a couple of weeks for the weeds to start to sprout and then turn it again. You'll also need to mix in some compost, animal manure (my favourites are sheep and chook manure) and I also like a few handfuls of blood and bone in the mix as well.
If you are growing in raised beds, like I do, you'll need to fill them with good quality soil, making sure you add in plenty of compost, manure and blood and bone as well. Vegetables like a good rich soil to grow in, so make sure you add plenty of organic matter before you start.
Then comes the really fun part- planting!
Well that is a little dependant on where you live. Some areas will get late frosts for a while yet. If your area is still frosty, hold off on frost sensitive plants for a few weeks, but put in your hardier plants now.
I hold off planting anything that is frost sensitive until a couple of weeks before the last expected frost date. I'll keep the seedlings on my verandah (where the frost doesn't reach) and I'll only plant them out in the garden when I'm sure the frosts are done with.
Potatoes can go out direct in the garden a couple of weeks before the last expected frost date as it's the green plant that is frost sensitive and it'll take the potato a couple of weeks to shoot. So by the time you've got a green potato plant, the danger of frosts should have passed.
If you live in a frost free area you can get planting with all spring plants immediately! Some plants will really take off when the weather heats up (corn, tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers). As soon as that heat kicks in you can really see them grow.
This spring I've got a large mix of veggies in my garden. You'll find:
- beans (frost sensitive)
- corn (frost sensitive)
- potatoes (frost sensitive)
- tomatoes (frost sensitive)
- zucchinis (frost sensitive)
- cucumbers (frost sensitive)
- mini yellow squash (frost sensitive)
- cabbages (new plantings)
- broccoli (new plantings)
- basil (frost sensitive)
Still growing from winter you'll find
- garlic (such a sad looking crop this year unfortunately)
- flowers calendula, paper daisies, sweet peas
OK I planted everything- What comes next?
Pull weeds out as soon as you see them. Weeds are easy to get on top of while they are small. If you leave them to get big, you'll have a lot of work ahead of you to pull them out. The best weeding advice I can give is, "Weed early, weed often!".
Keep an eye out for pests. Getting on top of pests early (before they have a chance to multiply their numbers) is important. If you see a few caterpillars on the plants, pick them off. Same goes for slugs. Seedlings that have been damaged by pests won't grow well. Look after those little plants and reap the rewards later on.
Enjoy yourself! Gardening is lots of fun and so satisfying. Get out there and get into it!
So does a vegetable garden actually save money? See all the costings of my vegetable garden HERE.
Want to start a garden with the kids? I've got a bunch of tips on gardening with kids HERE.
To check out more of my garden and see how we built it, go HERE and HERE.
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