1. Location & Size of Your Plot
- Select a site that receives a minimum of 6 hours sunlight a day.
- The size of your garden is determined by how much space you have, the time you have available to tend it and how much fresh produce you require.
2. Soil Preparation
- The soil must be well prepared prior to planting. Add organic matter to provide nutrients, improve soil structure and ensure good drainage.
- If starting a garden in a raised bed or container be sure to use good quality soil mix combined with extra compost or rotted manure.
- There are 3 seasonal vegetable categories: Spring sown, Autumn sown and all year round.
- The ideal sowing depth is about twice the seed diameter. So if a seed is 2mm wide then sow it 4mm deep. Very fine seeds shoudl not be covered, but more just pressed lightly into the soil.
- Sow seed at the recommended spacing and cover lightly.
- Refer to the back of seed packet for specific sowing details.
Care & Maintenance of Your Vegetable Garden
A consistent approach is required. Too much can cause disease, too little can result in stunted growth or even plant death. A good soak every few days is recommended (may need to be more frequent in very hot conditions). This encourages deep root systems and greater tolerance to dry weather.
Mulch is spread over the garden surface to retain moisture in the soil. suppress weeds and keep the soil cool. They also help improve soil structure and quality as they decompose.
Fertilising your plants during the growing season and improving the soil between crops can be done with either concentrated chemical fertilisers, or with organic manures or compost. The organic options include farmyard manure, household or garden compost, ready compost mixes and green manure. Green manures are fast growing plants (often legumes) that are sown between seasons. Dig them into the soil when mature to provide nitrogen and organic matter as they rot.
Pest & Disease Control
The first line of defence against disease and pests is the use of preventive practices that include:
- Maintaining a weed-free garden with wide, dry aisles
- Pruning leaves off the ground
- Watering the root area and avoiding the foliage
- Considering the layout of your garden to maximise sunlight and air circulation, and to reduce humidity buid-up
- Rotating crops, which means alternating the varieties of vegetables grown in one place from year to year. It lessens pest and disease problems that are common amongst same family vegetables, and avoids soil being depleted of nutrients used up by a particular type of a vegetable. If these controls are not enough you have a choice of using organic or chemical pest and disease treatments.