Grow, eat, love

Go a vegie patch

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - Contents -

THE BA­SICS OF VEGIE GROW­ING

Veg­eta­bles do need a lit­tle more care than other plants – af­ter all, you’re ask­ing them to pro­duce food for you! So fol­low these fun­da­men­tals to en­joy crop suc­cess and de­li­cious har­vests this sum­mer.

Soil

Most veg­eta­bles need nu­tri­ent-rich soil that holds mois­ture, but still al­lows for good drainage. To get your gar­den soil into shape, im­prove it by adding plenty of or­ganic mat­ter, namely com­post and aged ma­nure. The soil ph should also be 6.5-7 for the best re­sults, so test yours – you can buy a kit at your lo­cal nurs­ery – and ap­ply a dress­ing of lime or dolomite if the soil is too acidic (be­low 6.5). If the soil is too al­ka­line (above 7.5 ), add sul­phur. Tra­di­tion­ally, sul­phur comes as a pow­der, but liq­uid ver­sions are avail­able and work faster.

Lo­ca­tion

Veg­eta­bles need plenty of sun­light, so po­si­tion your patch some­where that gets at least half a day of di­rect sun­light and has pro­tec­tion from dry­ing winds. In milder cli­mates a full day of sun­light is ideal, but in ar­eas with very hot, dry sum­mers, pro­tec­tion may be needed to pre­vent scorch­ing. Try to po­si­tion plants to re­ceive af­ter­noon shade from build­ings or larger plants. Shade­cloth can also be used and re­moved when sum­mer has passed.

Wa­ter­ing

Food crops are thirsty plants, so be pre­pared to wa­ter them reg­u­larly over sum­mer. The fre­quency will de­pend on your lo­ca­tion, soil type and the ex­act plants you’re grow­ing, but

there’s some­thing in­cred­i­bly spe­cial about home­grown ve­g­ies. Maybe it’s know­ing ex­actly how they were grown, the un­beat­able fresh­ness or just the sim­ple plea­sure of grow­ing food from scratch. What­ever it is, the great thing is that, with the re­li­able warm weather and ex­tra day­light hours, grow­ing sum­mer veg­eta­bles is easy. Never raised your own crops be­fore? No prob­lem, all you have to do is fol­low a few ba­sic guide­lines and check out the top five veg to get you started.

usu­ally you’ll need to wa­ter ev­ery cou­ple of days. A lack of con­sis­tent wa­ter­ing will im­pact greatly on the taste, qual­ity and yield, so de­velop a habit of reg­u­lar deep ir­ri­ga­tion. Al­ter­na­tively, in­stall an ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem that comes with a timer – prob­lem sorted! (Al­ways re­mem­ber to check on the wa­ter­ing re­stric­tions that ap­ply in your district).

Feed­ing Ve­g­ies are hun­gry plants, so en­rich your soil be­fore plant­ing, as men­tioned ear­lier, and then boost with reg­u­lar fer­til­is­ing. Add or­ganic ma­nure pel­lets at plant­ing time and re­peat a cou­ple of months later, for longer-grow­ing crops. Liq­uid fer­tilis­ers and sea­weed ton­ics are ideal to su­per-charge the plants and max­imise your yields. Where pos­si­ble, choose or­ganic prod­ucts which help to im­prove and en­rich the soil.

Pests and dis­eases Un­for­tu­nately, ve­g­ies are sus­cep­ti­ble to cer­tain prob­lems, so keep a close eye on your plants to iden­tify any­thing early on. It’s far eas­ier to con­trol pests and dis­eases when they first ap­pear, be­fore se­ri­ous dam­age sets in. Com­mon cul­prits in­clude chew­ing and sap-suck­ing in­sects, and mildews. Or­ganic sprays such as eco-oil and eco-fungi­cide will con­trol most of the com­mon is­sues with­out you need­ing to reach for harsher chem­i­cals, and are safe for ben­e­fi­cial in­sects such as la­dy­bugs and bees. Treat cater­pil­lars with Na­ture’s Way Dipel, and lay non-toxic baits or set traps for snails and slugs.

1 A well-de­signed vegie gar­den is as pretty as it is pro­duc­tive. And the more beds you have, the more self-suf­fi­cient you’ll be.

Seedlings

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