Gardening

Growing your own veggies

SHARON WALKER

A vegetable garden can be the perfect addition to your landscape. Designed with a little imagination, it is not only a useful part of the garden but can also be attractive. Growing your own vegetables ensures healthful produce and saves you the high prices of organically grown produce at your local grocery store. It may be easier to just pop into the shops to buy your veggies, but there is just nothing more satisfying than picking your own vegetables and experiencing their intense flavour. Here are some important factors to consider before embarking on your edible garden adventure…

Choose a suitable site: When selecting the area where you would like to plant your veggie garden, make sure that you select an area that is level and sheltered from the wind. If the garden is on a slight slope then gently terrace the beds. This will prevent some plants from getting too much water and others too little. It is preferable to situate your vegetable garden in a sunny place and to start growing early in the spring. You can keep planting all summer long so something fresh and tasty is always ready to harvest.
Think about easy access: Place the garden/pots near to your house and even better, near to your kitchen. This is just common sense and makes it easier to run out and pick a few things you need.
Sunshine is key: Most vegetables need at least five to six hours of sunlight a day. If you have a shady garden, consider planting your veggies in containers and moving them around into the sun as the season changes.
Prep your soil: Like any plants, vegetables need good soil in order to grow abundantly. So use plenty of compost, manure and fertilizer to ensure healthy, abundant produce! Composting, mulching and rotating crops are natural ways to make sure that your soil remains rich. Veggies also like well-drained soil. If you have clay or sandy soil try adding compost and coarse organic material, such as garden refuse (leaves and grass cuttings). This will help to improve drainage in clay soil and retain water in sandy soil. Raised beds produce the best results. Most vegetables require a soil that is rich in nutrients. Vegetables that do well in the Free State include tomatoes, carrots, peas, beans, spinach, onions, squashes, baby marrows, lettuces, chives and beetroot. Don’t forget to water. Vegetables growing above the soil will enjoy a deep watering every four to eight days, depending on the temperature and soil type. Leafy vegetables like Swiss chard and lettuces require more water than root vegetables. Fruiting vegetables, such as, squashes and tomatoes, don’t like water on their leaves. To reduce evaporation and keep roots cool, place a layer of mulch in the beds. If space is limited consider planting in pots; Growing veggies in pots can prove to be a successful solution in a small garden or balcony. Make sure that the pots are in proportion to the size of the fully-grown vegetable. Use normal potting soil and water daily and feed with liquid fertilizer every two weeks. The pot should have plenty of drainage holes.

VEGGIES THAT DO WELL IN POTS: tomatoes, baby marrows, egg plant, chillies, sweet peppers, spring onions, beans, beetroot, lettuce, radish and Swiss chard but remember whether planting in pots or the garden, plant veggies that you and the family enjoy. Even though planting veggies requires a lot of attention and need to be checked on almost daily, use it as a time to unwind. What better way to end the day than picking fresh veggies for supper?


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