It may seem overwhelming to start growing your own food if it’s something you’ve never tried before. It seems like there are so many different things to consider, like soil type, garden placement, what to plant, how to deal with pests and more. In fact, it may seem so complicated and confusing that you never end up trying at all.
But in reality, growing your own vegetables is easier than you think. October and November are a fantastic time to dig in and get your green fingers growing- so don’t hesitate, step outside and get green.
Here are 6 easy tips to getting started:
1) Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The best way to begin a vegetable patch is to begin with a small space that is easily manageable and won’t be too difficult to maintain. One square meter is more than enough space to keep yourself busy and learning. Once you get the hang of it you can move on to bigger things.
2) Find a sunny spot
One of the main requirements of a vegetable garden that you can’t change at a later stage is access to sun. Look for a sunny place in your garden or on your balcony. You can always reduce the amount of sun that your vegetable patch receives by using shade cloth or other techniques, but you can never really add more sun. Try and choose a place that is still sunny in the middle of winter as the sun moves North.
3) Choose your vegetable bed method
There are many ways to make a space for your vegetables to grow. The main things vegetables want are access to nutrients in the soil, energy from the sun, and water.
With a traditional bed you dig compost about 20 cm into the ground. Make sure to remove grass roots and weeds to prevent excess maintenance later. It may take a bit of hard work in the beginning , but you can lay a good foundation for growing vegetables into the future. Raised beds are created using planks, bricks or logs to border a mix of compost and sand which is raised above the ground. These beds drain well during a rainy season, preventing water logging. They also tend to warm up quickly in winter, so are particularly suitable for cold areas. Container gardening is great for small spaces like balconies, and is also a good option if you are want to garden in an urban area that is covered in concrete. Any container can do, from an ice cream tub to a hand-made planter box. The most important thing here is making sure your containers have drainage holes. Plants don’t like soggy feet.
4) Selecting your vegetables
This is potentially the most intimidating of stages in beginning a vegetable garden. How on earth do you decide what you want to grow? The best technique when getting started is visiting your local garden center and choosing a selection of in-season seedlings. Ask for advice if you need it! Take a look at Green Home Magazine’s handy monthly planting guidelines for more information on seasonal planting. Tomatoes, salad greens, and herbs are always a rewarding place to start. There is nothing more exciting than biting into your first delicious home grown tomato. Spinach and Kale are also great crops as they are easy to grow organically and pack a high nutrient punch. Once you have your confidence up you can start growing from seed, expanding to more exotic vegetables, and getting more creative.
5) Spend a little time, regularly, tending your garden
Once you have your bed made and your seedlings selected, it’s time to plant the seedlings out. Take time and care making sure that you treat the young plants gently. Be sure to give them ample water to settle in, and add mulch (old leafs, straw or other organic materials) to keep the soil cool and moist. When your seedlings are in the ground, make a habit of spending 10 minutes a day tending, watering and weeding your garden. It is a rewarding and therapeutic experience watching your plants grow and flourish.
6) Have fun!
Enjoy the process, read and learn as you go, experiment, and celebrate your harvest!