Thinking about starting up your own vegetable garden to have an abundance of produce in your backyard, but not sure how to get started? We’ve created a handy need-to-know guide when thinking about your first veggie patch, like where to grow them, and key success factors such as the basics of soil for the best vegetables.
Straight in the ground, make a raised bed or use pots?
Growing your vegetables in a bed, the ground or pots all have advantages and disadvantages for various reasons. If you’re willing to spend a little more time setting up you garden at the beginning, raised beds tend to trump making a veggie garden straight into the ground. By raising the bed and holding in the soil with four wooden planks on the side to make a square or rectangle, this allows you to fill the area with nutrient-rich soil without having to dig any ground out to start off with. This can also lead to better quality drainage in your vegetable patch, which generally makes your plants happier with less work upfront from digging a patch and replacing the soil. Additionally, root vegetables thrive in boxes because of the better-quality soil as they grow into the ground further- just make sure you make it deep enough! Try to allow at least 10 inches of depth in your vegetable box to make it versatile for a range of vegetables. Although you’ll still need to keep up with weeding your veggie patch regardless, raised boxes tend to be easier for weed upkeep initially, due to there not being any weeds in there at the beginning.
Using pot plants is another option, especially if you’re living in an urban space, you have a small outdoor area or don’t get enough sun in one single place in your garden. Although root vegetables and trailing/vine plants aren’t suitable for pots and planters, most other plants will be just fine and you can move them into or out of the sun, depending on your plant’s needs. It also makes them easier to weed, which is a bonus.
Key Success Factors
First up is creating a haven for your vegetables to flourish in- in other words, location is key to success when building your vegetable patch. First, ask yourself whether your backyard might get different amounts of sunlight depending on what you are wanting to plant. If your vegetable patch is catching up to six hours a day of sunlight then generally, you’ll be able to plant most things that are in the correct climate and season for your location. If your garden is more shaded, you may have to plant strategically with vegetables that thrive in shaded areas more, such as root vegetables.
It is important to feed your vegetables with as much nutrients as possible, which is why having good quality soil is so important. By having quality soil for your plants to live in, this will facilitate them to grow as fast as possible. If you plant them in soil not suited to the (such as soil or sand for some plants), they may need more care and attention to become as fruitful. If your soil has too much clay in it, it won’t drain well or keep much oxygen in it. If the soil has a high volume of sand, it may not hold much nutrients within the soil to help your produce grow strong. These conditions work well for some plants, but a richer soil which drains well tends to be a good rule of thumb when first starting to create your vegetable patch.
Nutrient dense soil will also make healthier and stronger plants in general, meaning that if unexpected weather comes along, they’re more likely to survive better (and still hopefully thrive). When first setting up your vegetable patch, it’s best if you invest in a quality soil to lay down. This will make your plants significantly stronger within the first few weeks, which may be the difference between success and failure when they are just settling into their new home.
To keep your soil patch for your vegetables as full of nutrients as possible, adding compost to your garden will help it flourish even more. Compost is a natural fertilizer made from decayed organic matter such as vegetable scraps, paper, and grass clippings. Quality composts can be bought from your local gardening shop or made at home for those keen green thumbs willing to go the extra mile. Compost feeds the plants in the soil through its bio-available nutrients by adding more nitrogen to the soil- this creates an abundance of food for your produce to thrive from.
Whether you’re growing flowers, fruit, vegetables or even shrubs, some tools of the trade are deemed necessary, while others are more of preference for the individual. Check out our 10 essential gardening tools for beginners for a guide of tools, as well as recommendations of quality brands.
Plan your produce
When deciding what to plant in your new vegetable patch, do some research into what types of vegetable plants grow the best in the climate you live in, and depending on what season/ time of year it currently is. Like mentioned earlier, some vegetables work better for soil that is denser in clay because of its ability to retain moisture for longer periods of time. Usually these tend to be plants with shallow roots, such as lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and green beans. Sandy soil tends to drain easily, making it more suitable for produce such as root vegetables, collard greens, and tomatoes. In an ideal world, aim to have a mixture of sand, silt and clay in your soil for optimal growing of a wider range of plants.
If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our Plant Finder, where you can find a plant suitable for you through a variety of criteria.
• Don’t go too big on your first time- Start off with a few vegetables that you think will grow well after doing some research. Try to stick to around 5 varieties of vegetables or less so it doesn’t become too complex!
• Be realistic- Think about how much time you’re willing to commit in the garden and make a vegetable patch the size that reflects this. A good start is to make a small patch that is roughly 10x10feet.
• If you’re wanting to start a much smaller veggie patch initially, maybe try growing some produce in pots to start off with (but remember, they need more watering!).
• Make weeding a priority- Weeds suck out valuable nutrients from your soil which makes your veggies grow fast, as well as taste delicious. Nip this in the bud by frequently pulling out weeds when you see them, instead of letting them get out of hand. [external_footer]