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A Vegetable Garden from scratch

Begin the journey of growing your own - and eating it !!

There comes a time in many peoples lifes, at any age, where they look at their Garden, read about growing your own and rather fancy starting a Vegetable Garden from scratch.

The nice thing about it is that you don't have to have an enormous plot of land to have one on, it's surprising how much you can grow in even the smallest of spaces, even in Pots on the Patio will give you a good yield of various foods for the Table.

For this exercise let's take it you want to start a smallish Plot down the end of your Garden which at present is either grass or just plain overgrown.

Where to Site the Vegetable Patch

The best position in the Garden for growth will be the place where you get the most Sun, but shaded from the wind, but obviously annoying things such as Pets and Children who like football come into the equation as well!! But wherever possible, find a place in the Sun.
If you have the Sun, but not the shelter, it is well worth putting something up to act as a wind break. Plants such as Tomatoes love the Heat, but not the wind.

Clearing the Area

The preparation time for preparing good growing soil is one of the most important. Initially I went for it in a rather brash manner, simply dug the grass out, turned the soil and went ahead. This was good, but it was not long into sowing the seeds that I realised I had a battle of the weeds on my hands.
So, take the top turf off the top, rather than just throw this away, lay them upside down in a big heap and allow it to compost.
Once you've done that, turn the soil over digging well into the ground and make sure you pull out as many weed roots that you can on the way. Trust me, some of these can go down more than a foot. The more you get out now, the more successful your Vegetable Patch will be.

This should be as far off the date you intend to start sowing Vegetables as possible. The more time the soil has to settle the better, plus you will almost certainly find a few weeds starting to creep up which you missed.

Don't put weeds on the Compost Heap, they'll love it, let them dry off on top off a bonfire and burn them. Of all plants, weeds are the most diverse and will always find their way back somewhere.

Lastly, don';t move earthworms out - they are a Gardeners friend, a real benefit to your soil.

Preparing the Vegetable Patch

If you clear the area with time to spare before Spring, cover the newly dug soil, old carpet is very good, it'll keep the soil slightly warm, kill off some weeds and is very eco-friendly. By depriving the weeds of Sunlight, they won't grow so well. Wherever possible, avoid Weed Killers, they will kill the weeds but may have an effect on the soil - there's nothing like spit and polish I'm afraid.

When ready, dig and turn the soil over again. Digging a second time will help no end and again, not give weeds such a chance to survive.

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Nows the time to add a good Compost and / or Manure to the soil and, yes.....dig it in! What type of Compost depends on where you live and the type of soil it is, if you visit your local Garden Centre, they should know all this from experience, but whenever you can - go Organic. Not only is Organic eco-friendly, but it will last longer than Chemical based Composts and Fertilizers. Your Garden Centre may suggest adding some Bone meal, blood or Fish and Bone. Most Salespeople in these places aren't hard sell, they want to sell you the best, so you go back there again!

Sowing and Planting Time

Whilst you've been busily digging all day, you can spend the evenings planning out what you're going to grow and where. I would suggest starting of 'small', don't try any complicated fussy Vegetables in your first year, stick to the regular Vegetables and easy to grow types. A bad first year may put you off, but if you're frantically busy from August onwards hunting for places to store your Vegetable and then tasting them through Winter will be the incentive for more advanced adventures the following Year.

              

The Compost Heap
As soon as you've made a decision to have a Vegetable Patch - start a Compost Heap. Many Local Councils do special prices, so check out that option!

See the Composting Page for more info
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The Vegetable Year
Pages written by my good friend John Harrison

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