Spring Vegetable Gardening

This is the time of year when we get serious about our vegetable garden.

Our style is probably best described as rustic and productive. Before children, we had a series of smaller raised garden beds with wooden sleeper edges. These days it consists of long beds which we rotary hoe regularly. This method wouldn't win any garden design awards but it works really well for us at the moment. We have lots of willing helpers for jobs such as planting seedlings and picking vegetables but when it comes to weeding and clearing away old plants, a swing or sand pit is suddenly much more appealing. 

Because the garden beds do not have a fixed edge we are able to change the width and length of each garden bed regularly. Last year our planting included 40 tomato plants, a constant supply of salad ingredients, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, herbs, pumpkins and more. 

As I have said before, when I moved here I had never grown a vegetable so I am definitely very amateur. I have included a list of tips that work for us each year.

  1. Start early - For us the key is to plant early so that everything is well established before the hot weather. We occasionally lose things if we have a late frost but the overall benefits outweigh the risk of losing a couple of plants to frost. 
  2. Plant lots - If space is not an issue for you then it is often easier to put in more than you need. I am sure that there are lots of friends nearby who would appreciate your surplus vegetables.
  3. Plants things that you enjoy and use the most of first - My initial summer vegetable garden designs are ambitous and I usually end up with half of my original plan. I have learnt to start with the things that I use most, salad greens, tomatoes, herbs. Once these are going well I can plant more as I have time. 
  4. Mulch, mulch and more mulch - As a New Zealander it has taken me a long time to fully appreciate this one! Mulch is always necessary to prevent moisture loss and keep out the weeds.
  5. Raise seedlings rather than directly putting seeds into the ground. I have friends that have great success with seeds all year round but I find once the weather warms up it is hard to keep the soil moist, I have much more success growing my seedlings under the shade of a tree. 

Everyone can grow vegetables. Our area is large, highly productive and often overgrown but one of my favourite gardens belonged to a former work friend who lived in the inner city suburb of Newtown in Sydney. His garden was a narrow L shaped shady courtyard planted exclusively with vegetables. His small and beautiful garden fed his family and many of his neighbours and friends. 

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Category: What We Are Eating

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