Grow Your Own Food

Starting A Vegetable Garden

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Key Steps

  • Size Of Your Garden
  • Choosing A Spot For Your Garden
  • Constructing Your Garden
  • Choosing Vegetables To Grow What,
  • When And Where to Plant
  • Maintenance
  • Harvesting
1. Determining Size Of Your Garden
  • Start small and scale up as you encounter success
2. Locating Your Vegetable Garden
  • Put It Where The Sun Does Shine (8-10 hours)
  • Proximity To Kitchen
  • Access To Water (Rain Gauge)
  • Plan Ahead For Enough Room To Enlarge
  • Drainage  And  Level Ground
  • Away From Trees
  • Neighbors, Compost Area, Traffic
3. Building Your Garden
  • In Ground Garden vs Raised Beds 
  • In the simplest of terms, a raised garden bed is a container or box full of soil in which plants are grown. Raised beds (also referred to as garden boxes or planter boxes) are most commonly constructed of wood lumber, though they can also be made of stone, bricks, concrete, galvanized metal, logs, durable fabric or other materials.
  • In-ground gardens are highly customizable to your unique yard conditions and allow you to get creative with a variety of plant options, layout options, and more.
4. Points to note when building Your Garden
  • Improved soil drainage
  • Ease  of access
  • Easier weed control
  • Less soil compaction
  • Warmer soil temperature in Spring
  • Reduced soil erosion
  • Increased vegetable production

Examples of various types of raised beds

  • Less weeds
  • Better water retention in areas that have super-sandy soil
  • Better drainage in areas with clay soils
  • More growing space
  • No soil compaction from human feet
  • Warmer soil earlier in the season
  • Warmer soil for a longer season
  • Soil that has basically a neutral pH unless you add something to change it (because you’re filling it)
  • Less soil erosion (especially, if the bed is framed)

Raised beds on a slope

  • Compared to their in-ground counterparts, raised beds heat up quicker in the spring and offer improved drainage for your plants’ roots. 

5. Open Drip Garden

  • Drip irrigation is sometimes called trickle irrigation and involves dripping water onto the soil at very low rates (2-20 litres/hour) from a system of small diameter plastic pipes fitted with outlets called emitters or drippers. Water is applied close to plants so that only part of the soil in which the roots grow is wetted, unlike surface and sprinkler irrigation, which involves wetting the whole soil profile. With drip irrigation water, applications are more frequent (usually every 1-3 days) than with other methods and this provides a very favorable high moisture level in the soil in which plants can flourish.

6. Marking Out The Garden

  • One of the exciting stages of garden construction is the marking out of beds. The sites for the flower displays are marked out in the garden in the form of beds or borders. These may be of various shapes and sizes and much will depend on the character of the garden as to the exact shape which is used. Formal beds are those which have straight, defined edges whereas the informal types have irregular or natural edges. It is a good idea to draw up scale plans on paper before any marking out is begun. This will enable the gardener to design and measure the beds accurately especially where it is necessary to accommodate collections of plants such as shrubs and herbaceous plants.
7. Removing the Sod
  • Water the grass: A few days before you plan to dig up the sod, water the area thoroughly to make the soil easier to work with. After drying out for a few days, you end up with moist—not soggy—soil, so it sticks together but isn’t too heavy.
  • Cut into the sod: Using a sharp spade, shovel, or edger, cut around the perimeter of the grass you plan to remove. Then, cut the sod into one-foot by two-foot strips or one-foot-square pieces. You only need to break through the top layer of soil, so don’t worry about digging very deep.
  • Pry up the sod: Dig under one end of each piece of sod, and shove a spade or pitchfork under it to cut through deep taproots. Lift out the pre-cut piece and shake any loose soil back onto the ground.
  • Roll up the sod: If your pieces are long enough, roll them up like carpeting. If you opted for square pieces, stack them near the place where you plan to transplant the sod.
8. Preparing the Soil

Add nitrogen rich manure: The more you keep your soil healthy, the better your garden will grow.

Try composting: Manure makes a greater contribution to soil aggregation than composts. It is advisable to use organic manure with potting soil to gradually improve the soil quality. Composting can be defined as a means of recycling almost any organic wastes.

The best part about composting is that it reduces the bulk of organic materials, stabilises their soluble nutrients, and triggers the formation of soil humus.

Plant cover crops: To feed our soil, build its fertility and improve its structure with time, you should consider growing cover crops. Freshly uprooted cover crops provide already available nutrients for the soil microbes and also for food crop plants. Plus, the pores opened up by the decaying roots of these cover crops permit oxygen flow and water to penetrate the soil. Consider growing clovers, alfalfa, beans and peas as they are valuable cover crops, as they fix the nitrogen from the environment into forms available to crop plants.

Mulching is full of advantages: Use organic mulch to keep the soil covered. The mulch retains soil moisture and protects it against temperature extremes. Microbes, earthworms and other forms of beneficial living organisms can “nibble” at the mulch, and gradually incorporate their residues into the top layer of the soil. High-carbon mulches are preferable for weed control when compared to the materials that decay promptly since they endure longer before being incorporated into the soil food web. It is necessary and advisable to renew mulches that are in place for the entire growing season.

Use permanent garden beds and paths: The Key strategy for protecting soil structure is to grow plants in wide permanent beds, restrict foot traffic to the pathways, and plant as closely as possible. Close planting shades the soil surface, which in turn benefits both soil life and plants by conserving moisture and moderating temperature.

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