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July 30, 2012, 4:56 pm Yahoo!7
When it comes to freshness and flavour, home-grown vegetables beat store-bought produce every time. Here is how to build your very own vegetable garden.
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Growing your own vegetables has never been more popular. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can still grow a clutch of your favourite varieties, as long as you can supply their basic needs. You won’t have to wait long – many take only six weeks from seed to harvest!
Not all vegetables can be grown all year round. Some prefer the cooler months, while others like it warm, and a few don’t mind the in-between. They can be loosely grouped according to their growing season. It’s recommended you grow vegetables during the optimum season, otherwise you could end up with a disappointing harvest.
- Cool-season vegetables grow best when temperatures are between 10-20°C or even cooler. They include broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onion, peas, spinach and turnip, and should be sown during the cooler months of the year.
- Intermediate-season vegetables grow best between temperatures of 15-25°C. This group includes beetroot, cabbage, carrot, celery, leek, lettuce, parsnip, radish and silverbeet. It’s important to sow them at the correct time of the year for your climate because they tend to bolt or run to seed if they’re sown too early or too late.
- Warm-season vegetables do best at a temperature of 20°C or above. They grow poorly in cool weather and are susceptible to frost. This group includes green beans, capsicum, eggplant, potato, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato and all vine crops. Sow in spring or early summer.
- Position. An open, sunny site is a must for your vegetable garden. To grow quickly and well, veggies need as much light as possible, especially in winter when the days are shorter. If possible, select an area that’s facing north to northeast to catch the morning sun, and has at least four or five hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Soil. The soil should have a loose, crumbly structure, which is capable of absorbing and holding water and nutrients. It should be well aerated and drain freely. If your garden soil is not ideal, build raised beds, then fill them with a loamy garden soil, available from landscape suppliers.
- Fertiliser. Apply a pre-sowing or pre-planting mixed fertiliser (such as Thrive All Purpose or Osmocote Plus Organics plant foods) for each vegetable crop you grow. Leafy vegetables demand extra nitrogen in the form of liquid feeds every 10-14 days during the growing period.
- Watering. To grow quickly, vegetables need regular watering. Most of the water they absorb is passed through the plant and is evaporated or transpired by the leaves. Mulching vegetable beds, especially in summer, will greatly reduce loss of soil moisture. It also provides a more even soil temperature and discourages weeds. Use garden compost, well-rotted animal manure or lucerne hay.
- Pests. Protect your veggies from snails and slugs by using snail baits. Caterpillars can be a problem with many crops, too, so spray them with low-toxic treatments such as Yates Success or Dipel.
Lots of sun, but short on space? Many vegetables grow happily in containers, provided they have enough sun, water and nutrients. Check out the Oasis Pot Vegetable range, which includes a mix of pak choy, baby pumpkin, lettuce and eggplant.
Asian cabbages: in garden beds, pots and window boxes.
- Thyme attracts bees to tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. Bees will pollinate the plants and give you more fresh produce.Like' us on Facebook