Plant­ing your first veg­etable gar­den

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - GARDENING -

TO tend a thriv­ing gar­den takes a mix­ture of sci­ence and skill. Af­ter the dor­mant months of win­ter, spring is the time for you to work in tan­dem with Mother Na­ture and start plant­ing the seeds for your fu­ture har­vest.

Plant­ing your own veg­eta­bles has be­come very pop­u­lar as peo­ple have be­come more aware of the im­por­tance of eat­ing or­ganic, lo­cal pro­duce. Whether you “grow your own” on a large scale, or you sow only what you can eat, the prin­ci­ple is the same: what you sow, you reap. In­vest­ing time and care into your gar­den will yield a bounty to be proud of.

If you’re a novice to the gar­den, do not be in­ti­mated by the amount that you have to learn. Just re­mem­ber the fol­low­ing and the rest will come to you: Plants are like peo­ple; they need the same el­e­ments to grow and sur­vive – wa­ter, air, light, food and shel­ter.


So, where do you be­gin? Choos­ing a suit­able lo­ca­tion for your veg­etable patch is of vi­tal im­por­tance. Plants are liv­ing or­gan­isms and they need plenty of light to grow, so find the sun­ni­est patch of ground and ear­mark it for your gar­den. Your seedlings will ben­e­fit them a good level of di­rect sun­light but they will also ben­e­fit as the sun also warms the soil, which ben­e­fits the roots.


Na­ture is all about bal­ance and al­though a sunny per­spec­tive is vi­tal for an abun­dant crop, young plants in par­tic­u­lar need shel­ter as well. You may have to sac­ri­fice a lit­tle sun­light in favour of a lo­ca­tion that is out of the path of strong pre­vail­ing winds that may break stems or dry out plants, which would re­quire ad­di­tional wa­ter­ing on your part. Trees or hedgerows can pro­vide am­ple shel­ter, so take stock of your site be­fore plan­ning a big DIY project to con­struct a man made wind­breaker. But don’t panic if you see a ro­bust breeze or two, whip­ping through your gar­den on oc­ca­sion. Your plants need the wind to help them to pol­li­nate and to pre­vent dis­eases that oc­cur in stag­nant, damp con­di­tions.


With Ire­land’s wet cli­mate, wa­ter­ing your plants isn’t as big a job as in other places where the sum­mer months can be parched and dry. How­ever, if last year’s weather is any­thing to go by, then you can­not rely solely on Mother Na­ture to do the job – you must be pre­pared to in­vest some time in hy­drat­ing your gar­den. Set up an eco-friendly con­tainer near your plot to cap­ture rain­wa­ter and use this on your plants. It will con­tain less lime and less chlo­rine than tap wa­ter and cost you noth­ing in wa­ter charges. The foun­da­tion of suc­cess: Soil Just like plants, soil is a liv­ing, breath­ing or­gan­ism and needs to be nur­tured with sea­weed, com­post or mulch. But what is a suit­able soil for grow­ing veg­eta­bles? The best soil is called ‘ loam’ and is ideal for this pur­pose be­cause it re­tains wa­ter and nu­tri­ents well. Loam is nei­ther too sandy nor too sticky, as clay can be, and veg­eta­bles thrive in this type of soil. If the soil in your area is very poor, then con­sider us­ing raised beds as an op­tion. These are spe­cial struc­tures into which to put top qual­ity soil that can be pur­chased at gar­den­ing cen­tres and are a great so­lu­tion, es­pe­cially for gar­den­ers with dis­abil­i­ties as they are more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble ac when it comes time ti to tend the gar­den.


Now, you’re fi­nally ready to plant your gar­den, and no doubt there is a large se­lec­tion oof veg­eta­bles to choose ffrom that will all flour­ish in the great out­doors. So, the ques­tion is, how to choose? The an­swer is easy: An Ir­ish gar­den would not be com­plete un­less it has the old sta­ples: car­rots, spuds, let­tuce, cab­bage and onions. Any­thing else is a bonus!

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