Updated: Jan 12
Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables? And have you finally got the time during this quarantine to do this, but don't have any idea what to begin with? Then here are 5 excellent tips for you about how to start your own, magnificent vegetable garden from scratch! With this blog, you'll be able to harvest your homegrown vegetables in only a few weeks!
TIP 1 - Choose the right place!
One of the most important factors about a vegetable garden is it's location. It's exposure to the sun, wind and precipation are crucial for the development of new plants.
Some of these criteria are:
Choose a place where you have about 6 to 7 hours of sunlight per day during summer (the more, the better). Sunlight is crucial for the growth of plants as it's used to transform energy by what is called 'photosynthesis'. You could actually compare the leaves as small solar panels. So without sunlight, you're plants won't be able to grow!
Protect your allotment of cold wind by placing small hedges on the North side of the patch. Wind has the tendency to lower the temperature, which is not beneficial for your plant's growth!
Be careful with trees! Although they have multiple advantages such as protecting the plants of the burning sunlight during summer time, helping to evacuate the huge amounts of water during a storm and avoiding erosion of the soil, they have one big disadvantage. During periods of droughts, the trees will use most of the water in shallow and deeper layers of the Earth, making little plants more prone to drying out.
Choose a location close to the kitchen. It's not always possible, but it's so much easier when your ingredients are within easy reach.
Define the type of soil you have: clay, sand or a mixture of both. The best type of soil you can have is a mixture of sand and clay. The clay will hold back the water while the sand will make your soil lighter.
TIP: When starting a garden, I truly recommend you to add some compost to your soil. This will not only lighten your soil, but also add nutritients to the ground, that will increase the development of young seedlings.
TIP 2 - Define the surface
Once you have found the perfect location, you'll have to define the surface. The best tip I can give you, is to start small! If you start your first year - with little experience - with a huge veggie patch, it will quickly be taken over by weeds and other undesirable plants! If you start like me, with 15m², you can easily manage the patch and control the weeds. And if you want, you can still add more space in the future.
TIP 3 - Grow what you want to eat
Maybe one of the most important things while growing a garden: choose the food you like to eat! It would be of no sense to grow food you don't like. Ask yourself, your family members or housemates which food they would like to eat. Make a list of all those items. It will help you with tip number 4.
TIP 4 - Make a plan!
The key to succes for a year full of abundant harvests is to plan everything in advance. Making a garden plan is not the easiest thing to do, but it will save you a lot of time in the near future! A few tips I can give you are:
Make a list of all the items you would like to grow. Classify them by family, height, colour, companion plants, etc.
Take a big sheet of paper and draw the empty patch. Don't forget to use the right dimensions.
While choosing the right place for every plant, don't forget to take all the different criteria (the ones from your list) into account.
The most difficult part about making a plan is the disposition af all the plants. Start with finding a place for the perennials. These will have a fixed place from then on. Then, draw the plants that will take several months to grow/produce, for example zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, etc. After that, choose a place for quick vegetables like radishes, carrots, beets, lettuces that only take a few weeks before harvesting them. Finally, fill the empty spaces with flowers and herbs.
TIP 5 - It's all about the seeds...
A big part of your harvests will be influenced by the quality of the seeds you will use. Therefore I recommend you to buy local, organic heirloom varieties. Why those type of seeds?
Local, because of the reduced environmental footprint. Local seeds will also be more adapted to your climate and your type of soil.
Organic, just because of the more healthy lifestyle. It's also better for our pollinators and the biodiversity in your garden.
Heirloom varieties, because these ones can be used to save your own seeds from. Hybrid varieties (F1 type varieties) are not reproducible and won't give the same result if you replant the seeds. Saving your own seeds also has the advantage of creating varieties adapted to your own garden (climate, soil and other factors).
Some of the seeds will have to be sown inside, others outside. For example: zucchinis, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants need to be sown inside from February to April. Carrots, radishes and beetroots on the other hand, need to be sown directly outside.
If you sow them inside, you can use plastic pots if you want, but these are not that ecofriendly. That's why I wrote a blog about some of the alternatives you could use. Click here to read that blog.
THE GOLDEN TIP - Be patient
Nature is not always that fast. Just give her some time to grow and she'll reward you with excellent harvests! Discover more tips in my new book 'Mon petit potager bio sur 15m²'.
That's the end of today's blog. I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to like, comment or share it! See you next time!