Which would you prefer: going to the supermarket and frantically searching the aisles for the best vegetables that you think are fresh, or simply walking out to your backyard and picking garden-fresh produce that you grew yourself? If you choose the latter, you’ve made the right decision. Having your own vegetable patch not only gives you access to fresh veggies but also helps you create a positive impact on sustainability. If you’ve always wanted your own vegetable garden but didn’t quite know where to begin, there are a few simple steps you can take to start your very own veggie patch from scratch.
Preparing The Soil
The first step towards your vegetable garden calls for some prep work. This ensures you give the plants a healthy foundation from which they can start to grow faster and have the ability to withstand the vagaries of nature. Knowing your soil type will hold you in good stead when it comes to having a lush backyard garden. Start by marking the area where you’d like your garden patch and dig up the spot about 15-18 inches in depth. This will loosen up the topsoil and let nutrients like nitrogen and oxygen mix into the ground. You can also buy or build a garden (or plant) box above ground as well and buy the proper soil. Either way, this is also the right time to add organic material like compost, leaf mould, or manure to further enrich the soil.
Now that you’ve prepared the soil for your vegetable garden. You need to decide which vegetables to grow. As a beginner, it’s always best to start small and be delighted by a small garden patch rather than toiling away frustratingly in a bigger area. Choose up to five vegetables that you like the most and divide the area evenly for each vegetable.
The time of the year plays a crucial role in how your crop will fare in the coming months. For summer months start with cucumber, squash, peppers, or tomatoes. For autumn and winter, you can choose between spinach, turnips, lettuce, peas, or asparagus.
Start The Seeds Indoors
It’s always a good idea to plant your vegetable garden using seeds. However, planting the seeds directly into the soil might take longer for them to sprout. So plant the seeds in potting trays or recycled containers with a starting mix. Place the containers in a warm area and ensure the mix is always damp for better growth. Once the sprouts start to appear, move the tray to a sunny location and wait till you have at least two sets of leaves before transplanting the seedlings to your garden.
Caring For The Garden
Having a vegetable garden means giving it all the love and care you possibly can. Since you’d be transplanting the seedlings from their familiar location to a new one, utmost care should be taken to protect the delicate plants. Canvas traps are ideal for providing shade from the harsh sun or protection from frost and wind. Weeding the garden is also crucial for the success of your veggies. You do not want all the nutrients being sucked away by unwanted plants, so keep an eye out for wild varieties and lightly use a garden fork to rake up the weeds. The use of dry straw as mulch can also help keep the weeds away.
Harvest On Time
There is nothing more satisfying than plucking the vegetables that you grew yourself, but don’t let the excitement of picking the vegetables have you pulling and prodding before it’s time. For vegetables like peas and beans, touch and feel is a good indicator of the right harvesting time. You should be able to feel the peas inside the pods and beans should be long and smooth. Fruiting plants like peppers and tomatoes can be judged by colour, an evenly coloured fruit is a good sign that the vegetables are ready to be plucked. While root vegetables like radishes, carrots, and beets can be slightly pulled to check the size, usually golf ball sized radishes and beets are right for consumption.
Get your tools ready, and put your green thumb to good use. While you’re at it, also take out time to soak in the beauty of your garden. Pull off those outdoor furniture covers, get comfy in that garden chair and bask in the glory of your hard work.