Grow, eat, love
Go a vegie patch
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.
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.
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.
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.