Friday, September 2, 2011

Tending to your vegetable garden

What is the state of your vegetable garden? Is it thriving with fresh produce or does it need a bit of TLC?

Home grown produce seems to offer a greater taste and freshness when compared to what you get at the grocery store. Creating and tending to a vegetable garden also be a very rewarding experience. Gardening is known to be almost therapeutic and what better feeling could you get than watching your helpless little seedlings grow and thrive into glorious vegetables?

So if you want to reap the benefits of a vegetable patch, here's what you should consider:

Planning the vegetable garden
Planning is key and the time spent here will pay off. Work out how much space you can give your new vegetable garden then think how much time a week you can dedicate to it. Tending to your vegetable garden growing produce can be time consuming, so remember, you can always start small and expand later. In general, your vegetable patch will require an open space that receives at least 5 hours of sunlight per day. Prepare the ground, digging to 25-30cm and add lots of organic matter. Remember, raised beds are good for growing veggies.

Design your vegetable garden
Plots are ideally divided into three beds to allow for crop rotation. It is best to have rows running north to south giving equal sunlight to both sides of the rows.

Crop rotating in the vegetable garden
Rotating crops helps ensure that the same type of crop doesn’t occupy the same ground year after year as this can build up diseases that attack vegetables belonging to the same family. It also depletes the soil of nutrients. For most at home gardeners, strict crop rotation isn’t necessary however a simple rotation to avoid following one crop with a vegetable of the same type will suffice.

The what, where and when of your vegetable garden
Make sure you consider climate. There are warm season veggies such as potatoes and tomatoes that grow best in months that experience 20 degree and over weather. Then there are cold season vegetables such as brocollli and broad beans . Climatic considerations will also influence rotation. If space is limited, try sticking to vegetables that grow quickly including fresh tomatoes, greens vegetables that give a high yield or can be harvested regularly are effective when considering space.

Maintenance
Once you have planned your patch, it's time for some maintenance. Vegetables are shallow-rooted and need lots of water. Weed control is also needed to ensure the success of your vegetable patch. Remove the weeds between and within rows for the best results. At this stage you might also consider fertilising and spraying your plants.

Harvest
When your vegetables are ready for harvest pick them when they are young to ensure the best taste and then, enjoy

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