A Beginner's Guide to Starting a Veggie Garden

10 Sep, 2021

Many of us aspire to grow our own produce, but don’t know where to start. Here are some of the most common questions we get from our customers (and the answers!).

What to grow, when?

Not all vegetables will grow all year round. Crops such as tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, chillies, pumpkins, corn, and melons only grow from spring to autumn outside, and most plants are annuals meaning their lifespan is within one year. Read the back of the seed packets for information on how and when to grow them. Any vegetable seedlings in the garden centres are seasonal and can be planted when available. If you need more help, ask a staff member instore.

Where can I grow veggies?

Most vegetables need full sun to grow well. If they are grown in the shade they may become spindly, reaching for the sun, and fail to find the energy required to grow large enough to be edible. You can grow veggies in a dug-in veggie patch, a raised bed, in Vegepods, or in large pots and containers. Always ensure your plants will have enough room for their roots before you start planting.

How do I make a veggie garden?

If you do not have a designated veggie patch yet, making your own can be very rewarding. A raised bed is great, as it means you will have drainage, know what sort of soil you are planting into, and you don’t need to bend down as much to tend it, depending on the height. Look for a space that isn’t near any trees, as tree roots will eventually invade the nutritious soil, making it harder to plant. You can create a raised bed out of untreated wood, brick, cement blocks - or buy flatpack ones.

The soil that is used is very important. We recommend using a weed-free base to get started. Add in veggie mix, along with compost. Potting mix will dry out too fast, and make sure compost is used sparingly – too much compost can burn seedling roots. Mix in sheep pellets or Natures Organic Fertiliser for an additional organic boost.

What do I need to do to make sure the veggies grow well?

Regular watering and using the right fertiliser is very important for all crops. Watering in the mornings around the roots is best. Watering the foliage will not only fail to provide necessary moisture to the main part of the plant, but it can also cause humidity problems, which can lead to diseases. Watering earlier in the morning means the plants have time to absorb the majority of the moisture before it evaporates throughout the day. Liquid fertiliser is absorbed more quickly by plants, though does require more energy to disperse than slow-release food. Research the plants you are growing, as some (like tomatoes and potatoes) are heavy feeders and need nutrients up to twice a month.

How can I keep insects and birds away from my crops?

Prevention is always better than treatment. Cover green salad crops with bug netting. Weakened plants are tastier to pest insects so make sure they are well looked after. Some veggie or fruiting plants need to be pollinated by bugs so instead of netting, look out for early signs of insect damage, and use organic sprays where possible, such as organic Bugtrol. You can still cover plants such as strawberries with bird netting – bees will still be able to pollinate their flowers.

Finally, remember that failure is experience!

It’s disheartening when you buy or grow your first plants and they don’t produce well or die. However, this in the long run makes you a better gardener. No one starts off at an expert level and failure is inevitable; it means you learn what to do differently next time to avoid making the same mistakes. Find out the reason why a plant may have failed by bringing a sample or photos of your plant instore for a staff member to diagnose. They can tell you what happened, why, and how to prevent it. Armed with the right information, you can go on to be successful in your veggie garden journey.

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