Get started on yours now
There is much to be said for walking out of your door into the garden and around to the veggie patch to pick wholesome, fresh and organic ingredients for the dinner table. Not to mention the great experiences and life lessons that come with spending time ‘working the good earth’ with your children.
Growing your own vegetables and herbs from seed is one of the most rewarding endeavors anyone with a patch of garden can partake in and there is no better time to cultivate a patch of your own than in the splendid summer.
Summer gardening is an absolute treat for those with the know-how and inclination for it. It is the time of year where some of the most delectable fruits, herbs and veggies ripen and find their way on to dinner tables across the length and breadth of the gardener’s paradise.
What to plant
In the summer, where temperatures rise above the 70 degree benchmark, it becomes the ideal time to grow the warmer weather vegetables. Any well-balanced veggie patched worth mentioning should look to include an assortment of beans, capsicum, eggplant, potato, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkins.
Every patch must have a plan
There is a lot more to growing a thriving veggie patch than simply digging holes in the dirt, throwing in some seeds and going at it with gusto with a watering can.
Start off by thinking about what vegetables your family likes the most, and how much of them you plan on eating. A very common mistake most first timers make is approaching their vegetable patch as if they are producing enough food to feed a small African nation.
Pumpkins, tomatoes and squash are all re-producers; they keep on producing more veggies throughout the season, so plant them sparingly.
Save most of your space for things like carrots and corn which produce only once. These crops are best planted in rows or tills, whereas plants like cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and beans can be grown ‘intensively’ – planted in pots or boxes closely clustered together.
Be smart about your soil
Before so much as a single seed is planted in the ground you are going to need to test your soil and ensure that it provides the perfect environment for your veggies to thrive in. Head down to your nearest garden supply store and ask for a reliable PH soil testing kit and be sure to test that your soil is at the right alkalinity.
Drainage is key
Check the drainage quality of your soil. Simply give a target area of soil a good soaking with the hose, wait a day and then dig up a fistful and squeeze hard. If water pours forth like the Nile flooding its banks then you are going to want to add more organic material to improve drainage.
You may feel a bit like a bushman in the Kalahari making mud cakes, but there is a method to this madness. When you open your hand, examine the consistency of the soil closely.
Just add Crap
Ideally you are going to want that soil to break apart and crumble away at the poke of a finger. If it withers away in a cascade of vaporized sand at the slightest touch your soil is too sandy and requires some healthy organic matter.
If it holds together and you are able to fashion little clay men out of it, then oddly enough, you also need to add more organic material (think compost and mulch) to it. With soil it seems, whatever the issue the solution is to just throw some crap at it!
Water, weed and wage war on pests
It’s important not to embrace the maxim of ‘P for Plenty’ when it comes to how to water your veggie garden. Yes, vegetables require enough water to keep them growing and healthily succulent, but too much water will leave you a miniature version of what the earth must have resembled after the great biblical flood.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to water your veggies when the top inch of soil goes dry. Ensure they get enough sunshine and be meticulous about combatting summer pests and you are on your way to enjoying a gift that really will keep on giving.
A well-maintained vegetable garden is a natural treasure trove on so many levels which is why anyone with a patch of open space in their garden would be well-advised to start their very own veggie patch this summer.