How to Start a Vegetable Garden
April, 2014 · By Coryanne Ettiene
I grew up watching my grandfather grow citrus trees, his grapefruit were famous in the neighborhood and his green thumb was passed down to my mother who can grow anything regardless of the Arizona sun. Their gene for the green thumb eludes me, despite my passion for food that is grown. When we bought our home 2 years ago, I had grand plans of vegetable gardens that would rival the hanging gardens of Babylon; lucky for me the berry bushes and orchard were established, because the only thing I can grow is mint….but that never stops me from embracing each spring with a renewed effort to plant a vegetable garden and grow my own food. With the warmer days and longer sunlight hours my weekends are spent dreaming of a thriving small crop and I am slightly obsessed with my Edible Garden Pin board to give me every fighting chance at a successful harvest.
Before you race out and buy all your gardening supplies, start saving your egg shells — they make the most amazing starter pods for seeds. Crack off the top, don’t worry about rinsing them out, add your soil, your seed, water and then return to your egg carton for “hatching”. If like me, your passion for an edible garden far out weighs your talents as a gardener, here are a few tips to get you started on your path towards the perfect edible garden.
Design your plot: Review your yard for the best location and decide how large a patch you want to cultivate. Then clear the weeds, nourish the soil and start your compost heap/bin. If you are really eco savvy, invest in a rain water trap to cut down your water usage during those long summer days. Avoid getting carried away, and commit to a small patch the first time you embark on being a kitchen gardener, not only will it build your confidence, it will ensure that you have a successful crop.
Decide what to grow: Leave bulky or complex crops to the farmers, instead focus on hearty vegetables that will give you confidence as a gardener. Above all, grow what you enjoy eating. Once you have your seeds selected, start them in pots…and don’t be afraid to leave them there a bit longer before transplanting them to give them that extra hug before they venture into the planting beds.
Best home grown: Asparagus, Beetroot, Broccoli, Chillies, Zucchini & other squash varieties, Herbs, Lettuce, Tomatoes, French Beans & Runner Beans, and Cucumbers.
Best left to the pros: Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Garlic & Onions, Swedes, and Sweet Potatoes.
Build a strong defence
- Pour a beer trap for slugs & snails (leave a saucer of beer in your garden at dusk, in the morning remove the saucer and the trapped slugs & snails)
- Empty toilet rolls protect young sprouts without harming their development and they are biodegradable
- Add a splash of colour by planting Marigolds in your garden patch — they keep aphids and other tiny pests away.
- Hang a few CDs — yes, CDs. The light reflecting on both sides will scare away the birds.