Ever wanted to build your own vegetable or herb garden? Perhaps you wouldn’t mind growing your own vegetables to add to your Sunday roast?
As Canberra settles into spring, now is the best time to take advantage of the main planting season in the nation’s capital.
Here is our guide to help get you started.
How to pick your plot
There are several key considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a location for your vegetable garden, including size, location, sunlight, soil quality and more.
The amount of sunlight your plants get during the day is an important factor when deciding where to locate your vegetable garden. To increase your options in terms of plant variety, try to pick a spot that gets up to six hours of sunlight a day. If sunlight is limited throughout your yard, there are many plants that can still grow in partial sunlight or even shade.
Soil quality is another key consideration when deciding on a location for your garden. Your vegetables and herbs will require good quality soil in order to retain nutrients and hold water long enough for them to grow. One of the best things you can do is to be aware of the soil type when considering a garden location. If you already have nice, healthy soil, you won’t have to do any preparation other than turn and aerate it. Loamy soil (a mix of fine and coarse particles) is ideal for growing plants. Sandy soils (mostly coarse particles) don’t hold water very well, and clay soils (very fine particles), hold water well but can become waterlogged without good drainage. The basic rule of thumb for preparing your soil is to add organic matter to sandy soil to bring it together, and add gypsum to clay soil to break it up. Another handy idea is to get a cheap PH test kit to see if your soil is more acidic or alkaline.
What to plant
Now that you have found an ideal spot for a garden, the next thing to decide is what you want to grow. Whether it’s tomatoes, carrots and potatoes, or basil, mint and beetroot, the options are endless. The best place to start is by choosing vegetables and herbs that you like to eat. You’re more likely to take care of them, plus you’ll doubly enjoy the fruits of your labour come harvest time. Head to your local garden store or nursery and explore the hundreds of vegetable and herb varieties on offer. You should be able to find seeds for everything but sometimes you might be able to buy a semi-grown plant to bring home and add to your garden bed.
Choose a type of planter
You’ve decided on your location and what you want to grow, so now it is time to think about what your garden will look like. You might want raised or non-raised garden beds, vertical gardens, wooden planters, wall planters, or you might prefer to use pots. If your garden bed is next to a fence or wall, keep in mind that you may have limited access (from one side), so the width of your garden will be a consideration. If you are interested in using a raised bed, there are essential construction materials to think about. You can use many different materials, from wood to brick, recycled or new. Think about what you want to achieve with your garden and how you want it to look and this will dictate what materials you use. For inspiration, jump online or head to your local garden store for options and further advice.
Tend to your patch
Just like a flower garden, your veggie patch needs regular care and maintenance too, like watering, weeding, fertiliser and mulch.
In order to grow fresh, tasty vegetables and herbs, they need adequate water like any other plant does. Access to water is an important consideration when starting your patch and you must ensure you have easy access to a reliable water source. Installing an irrigation system is an option that will give you convenient access to water and will make tending to your garden easier. Every garden will have different water requirements based on what vegetables and herbs you decide to grow, so be sure to make a note of every plant’s needs and how it might vary from season to season.
Secondly, a good organic fertiliser can be an effective way to enrich the soil with nutrients and help boost the growth of your veggies and herbs. Be sure to do your research before applying any type of fertiliser to your garden as it might be detrimental to other growing plants in your garden bed.
Thirdly, refreshing mulch regularly is important for keeping the soil protected from the elements, and particularly helps with water retention and keeping soil cool. Mulch will also turn to compost over time and add to the quality of your soil.
Lastly, be sure to remove weeds as soon as they appear, including dead plants, old leaves and any debris that sits on and around your plants. Weeds will compete with your plants for nutrients, including how much water they get, so be sure to inspect your garden regularly.