Five months after moving into our new home, I am ready to turn my focus to the outside and get stuck into the vegetable garden. We were lucky to have inherited a fenced veggie patch of a good size, but it’s in need of a lot of tidying and reworking. When we moved in, I got some help clearing out one bed so I could plant my tomatoes, but otherwise didn’t really do much else. So, a few weeks ago I sat down and drew up a plan.
Whether you’re creating a new vegie garden, or altering an existing patch, it’s great to start with a plan. Measure out the area you’ve got to work with, identify fixtures such as trees or tap points, and position your beds where they’ll get the most sun. I also used the plan to mark in irrigation lines showing where I’ll lay polypipe, where I’ll install a weeper hose and marking in taps so I can turn beds off and on to save water.
My veggie garden is currently divided into two sections, divided by a fence running half way across to the left of the trees. The four citrus trees are in the right side of the garden take up a lot of space and are quite tall. My plan is to work around the trees at the moment and plant new citrus trees in the orchard. Once these are established and starting to fruit, I’ll remove the ones from the veggie garden which will give me back about a third of the overall size, as well as remove the shading the trees cause.
At the moment the garden has a few beds outlined with bricks, but as the garden is on a slope, some of them are unsteady as they’ve only been dry-stacked. I’m planning to keep the secure beds and replace the unsteady one with ecotimber sleepers. We also have two borders in the patch with large, old roses that I’ll relocate in winter, and will then replant with different berries. The bottom half of the vegie garden (right side on the plan) doesn’t have any beds at all, so I’ve tried to fit in as many beds as possible.
Since drawing up the plan a couple of weeks ago, I’ve pruned, weeded, removed a portion of fence, widened a walkway and installed a second gate into the bottom of the garden. I’ve also relocated two large raised corrugated beds into the patch, and I’ll start adding the sleepers to form the beds as I go. It’s wonderful to have direction for an area that I knew had potential, but didn’t really know where to start. I’m now just plodding along, working on one area at a time.
At this very moment, I have one working bed (bed 1) that I have just cleared of the cherry tomatoes. In this bed I’ll plant out my seedlings from the potting shed, and work on bed number two.
Autumn was the time to plant garlic, so I’ve planted my bulbs in the newly position raised bed, topped with compost and mulch. The bulbs were planted on 29 April, and two weeks later I have growth of around 4 cm above ground. I love how fast mother nature can work.
I’ve always wanted a productive veggie garden, so I’m also working on a system to ensure I have an ongoing supply of veggies to harvest. Two weeks ago, I planted a few different veggie seeds in punnets and have written in my garden diary repeat plantings of seeds each week throughout the growing season to extend harvesting.
From left to right, some lettuce, leek (not sure why I did this as it’s too late in the season and unsurprisingly didn’t take), spinach, baby broccoli, golden beetroot and mini cauliflowers. Germination was pretty good, except for the spinach as only one out of four seeds took.
I’ve also planted around 12 pea seeds and every one is reaching for the sky. These I’ll plant this weekend and continue to plant around 9-12 seeds each week. Miss4 has a habit of eating all the peas off the vine when she’s in the veggie garden so one day it’ll be nice to actually have enough to have with a meal.
If you’re interested in growing your own vegetables, you can check out our planting guide (available in our Shop) which will tell you which seeds to plant for each month by climate region. Or else subscribe below and we’ll email you a list of veggies each month. Then just pick a vegie you love to eat, and plant a few seeds every week throughout the growing season. If you eat lots of lettuce, plant 4-5 seeds each fortnight. Love peas, plant 10-15 every 2 weeks. Whatever you don’t eat can either be frozen, given away, fed to the chooks or composted.
With winter just around the corner, I’m looking forward to working on a few beds, tidying and relocating the strawberry patch, and installing an irrigation system. I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I go. Happy gardening!