If you are following the current trend of starting your own veggie patch at home, we have put together a few tips that should help you off on the right foot. There’s nothing more exciting than reaping your first crop of homegrown goodness from the garden.
1. OVER FERTLISING
Many beginner gardeners believe this common untruth; the more fertiliser they apply, the better the yields. However, applying more that the recommended dose will actually reduce your crop considerably. Over-fertilising can cause stunted growth and burning. It’s important that fertilisers are applied at the recommended rates and to soil that is nutrient deficient. Plants themselves can only use the nutrients they need. Therefore, excess nutrients leach into the soil and go to waste. Adding compost is a good idea to assisting enriched soil.
2. USING SYNTHETIC FERTILISERS
If you are looking to grow your own vegetables and herbs, it’s important to consider using organic fertilisers. Synthetic fertilisers contain chemicals that are harmful when used on crops you are planning to consume.
3. PLANTING IN SHADY AREAS
It’s so important to take the position of your intended vegetable garden into consideration. The majority of vegetables require direct full sunshine. Some veggies, such as peas and lettuces can do well under little shade, but the general rule of thumb is that a sunny patch is best.
4. FAILURE TO AMEND THE SOIL
Adding compost to your soil goes a long way in providing you with better and healthier yields. Amend your soil with plenty of organic matter and compost throughout the seasons. Organic matter will never be excess in the soil. So pile it on as much as possible for good garden growth. Remember, compost feeds to the soil; fertiliser feeds the plant. Both are required for healthy growth in the vegetable garden.
5. OVER WATERING
Don’t be heavy handed with the watering of your vegetable garden. It’s a common mistake made by many a gardener. Too much water can cause the roots to rot due to suffocation. Keep in mind that the soil should be moist and not soggy. Some vegetables will only require 2cm to 3cm of water every week. Overwatering causes unnecessary stress. If you stick your finger in the soil and find that at about 3cm deep the soil is still moist, don’t water the plants that day. Simply re-check the next day.
To maintain moisture in the soil, mulch around the plants using dried grass clippings, straw, dried leaves, bark mulches, or unfinished compost. All these will make ideal mulch for your vegetable plants. Mulching not only helps to retain water, it’s also useful in keeping the growth of weeds to a minimum.
6. PLANTING SEEDLINGS OR SEEDS TOO DEEP OR TOO SHALLOW
Normally, the size of the seedling/seed dictates its depth; the larger the seedling/seeds, the deeper they prefer to be planted. If planting from seed, make sure to follow the directions indicated on the seed packets. Planting your seeds too deep will make them unable to sprout, or they will sprout as weak seedlings as a result of the sprouting process being too tiring.
On the other hand, planting your seeds too shallow can cause them to dry out quickly before they sprout. This can also cause the young plants to fall over or even dry out because of poor root growth.
7. PLANTING TOO CLOSELY
If you plant your seed or seedlings too close to each other, you’ll be encouraging competition for sunlight, water and nutrients in the soil. The seed packets have guidelines about plant spacing; don’t be tempted to ignore them just because the seeds or seedlings seem small. It’s important to think about what the size of the mature plant will be. If in doubt, chat to our team for advice.
8. STARTING OUT TOO BIG
Many gardeners get excited by the “grow your own” wave and end up investing in a large vegetable garden. If you’re starting out, plant a manageable area and begin with easy plants such as peppers, green beans, lettuces, tomatoes or eggplant. Once you gain the confidence and skills of managing a small patch (or a potted veggie garden) and combating the pests, you can expand progressively. As your experience grows, you can start to have fun increasing your crops.
9. USING BROAD SPECTRUM PESTICIDES
There’s nothing more frustrating than when the yield of your hard work is attacked by pests and diseases. Using broad-spectrum pesticides can have an adverse effect and is not the wisest choice for your vegetable garden. Pop into your nearest Blackwood’s and ask for assistance on recommended treatment of pests and diseases. We’re here to help you grow.