Tips for starting a new veggie garden
QMy family is about to venture into growing vegetables. We need a few basic tips on getting started and seeing the plants through the season.
A A most appropriate question to address today — Earth Day.
First, choose a sunny location, free of major root competition from trees and large shrubs. If space is an issue, consider lifting the turf off a portion of lawn.
All but the largest plants can be grown in containers.
List the vegetables you most like to eat. Among popular vegetables, lettuce, beans, carrots, kale, zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers are among the easiest to grow.
Purchased transplants are an option.
Save space by growing tall and vining plants upward, against sturdy netting or wire fencing. I grow cucumbers, runner and pole beans, peas and staking tomatoes this way. Small, fast-growing plants like most leafy greens are easily tucked in along the bases of pea and bean vines and under the tomato plants.
Planting small vegetables like carrots and beets in closely spaced blocks rather than in single, well-separated rows, also saves considerable room.
Seeding and transplanting take mere moments. It's the soil preparation that requires the most time and labour.
New ground needs to be dug over to loosen the soil and uncover rocks and debris for removal. Most soils will need a dusting of lime except where potatoes and strawberries will grow. Mix in a minimum five-centimetre layer of a nourishing compost.
Almost all vegetables can be seeded or transplanted now. Wait until the warmth of May to transplant heat-hungry plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons. Mark plantings with a label, and pull weeds as they appear.
Patches of cheery blooms brighten a vegetable garden. Nasturtiums, calendula and marigolds are easy, colourful flowers. Fragrant alyssum is one of the best for nurturing beneficial insects. Thyme perks up many vegetable dishes. Plant it at one or two plot corners, or in a container.