10 easy steps to start a vegetable garden
– Select a good spot for your garden: make sure the soil’s well drained, not too shallow, not too rocky and avoid shady areas. Remember vegetables can be grown on terraces too.
– Select your vegetables (and fruit and herbs!): assess how much food you need, how many types of vegetables you want to plant. Remember herbs are easy to grow, and fruit like raspberries and blueberries can be grown in gardens.
– Plan your garden: now you know what type of plants you want, draw a plan of your garden, don’t forget space for paths and borders. Use your space as wisely as possible. Find out which plants will need shade and plan to put them underneath taller ones
– Choose your seeds: buy your seeds from regional seed companies, they’ll have seeds that thrive in your area. You can choose hybrid or open-pollinated seeds. Hybrids are more resistant, produce higher yields and are more uniform, but won’t produce seeds to keep for next year. Open-pollinated seeds will, but if you intend to collect their seeds for another year, you’ll have to be careful to plant only one type of each plant.
– Choose your tools: you can buy them new – no need to spend bags of money if you’re just starting — or look for some in car boot sales or flea markets. You’ll need a spading fork, a hoe, a round shovel, a watering can with a spray head to water young seedlings, a bow rake and shears, and a pair of gloves.
– Prepare the soil: open and break up the soil with a spading fork, add organic matter, like compost, manure or peat (easy to find in city garden shops)
– Plant your seeds: follow instructions on the packets carefully. Some seeds can be sowed outdoors, others need to be sown indoors in containers. The bigger the seeds, the deeper they have to be planted. Warning! Keep the packets for further instructions about thinning and write down on your plan exactly where you’ve put which seeds.
– Water your seeds: at first gently with a watering can. Make sure the soil is moist until seedlings are up. You might want to install a hose for later, when the plants are bigger.
– Thin out your seedlings: depending on instructions, thin out seedlings when they are 1 or 2 inches tall by gently pulling them out. This ensures the ones you leave in the ground have all the space and nutrients they need.
– Choose your chemicals: opt for organic fertilisers for your soil, like sulphate of potash, lime, gypsum, liquid seaweed fertiliser, liquid compost. Choose, or make organic pesticides, which will deter insects. Mixing water with crushed garlic and chillies and spraying it on your plants will make the leaves taste awful to bugs! If you really need something to kill insects, choose Pyrethrum sprays (a flower extract).
The diary of a family aiming at self- sufficiency in the city
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