In an age where bloggers tell us that organic, local grown produce is the gold standard for fruit and vegetables, now is the time to start preparing your garden ready for an abundance of homegrown goodies. If winter was the time to wrap up warm and stay inside, then the promised warmer weather means it’s time to prepare beds and get them ready to sow your veg selection. Dig out those gardening gloves and wellies and head off into the garden for some fresh air and hard work. Tell yourself it will all be worth the scratches and sore back once you’re tucking into your freshly harvested carrots, courgettes or potatoes.
So, what’s first on your planting to-do list and when should you get going? I take a look at some of the steps you need to be taking to create your garden glory.
First of all, you’ll need to pick your best vegetable growing spot and the area you want to focus on is the exact place you’d choose to lie down on a sun lounger with a good book and a cocktail. Choose the sunniest and the most sheltered spot of your garden. Decide then how big this planting area is going to be and if you’ll be going straight into your soil or building a raised bed.
If digging into your existing soil then you’ll need to start meticulously going through your bed removing any weeds, stones and dead plants and flowers. Make sure that roots are well and truly removed to stop any regrowth. Keep turning over the soil until you’re sure that your bed is clear of anything that might hinder growth.
Then it’s time for the fun part: deciding on what to sow and how your patch is going to look. One of the more traditional techniques is to divide your area into quarters, leaving you the option of growing something floral in the middle to break up the vegetables. Just because you are growing edibles, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a picturesque and creative design.
You’ll need to have figured out your soil type by this stage as this will have a significant impact on what you grow and how you’ll grow it. Some vegetables and herbs will be just as happy grown in pots as in beds and if you’re looking to grow things like tomatoes you might want to consider bespoke greenhouses which can help keep crops at a constant temperature and avoid the scourge of a sudden frost.
If you opt for a raised bed, then feel free to fill it with soil from your garden and top it up with some you’ve bought in. It doesn’t have to be the same soil type, in fact a mix can be very beneficial for growth.
Get your beds ready by digging in the soil improvement that best suits your particular type. You might need to talk to your local garden centre or family member for a bit of advice but you must get something nutritious in the ground before you sow your seeds.
Once you’re ready to go make sure you put some guide ropes down, to help you plant in a straight line and to give you an idea of how much you’ve planted and where. It’s a good idea to draw a sketch of your planting so you can check on what’s grown and so that you can vary your crops next year, which is much better for the soil condition.
If you’re looking for crops that will grow well and are fairly hardy, then go for courgette. In fact, squashes do grow fairly quickly so you might find yourself inundated with them. Carrots too are fairly easy to grow and just require a little bit of maintenance in terms of being thinned out once they start growing. If you’re looking to grow peas, you’ll need to get them in the ground before it starts getting warm as the cold weather is an essential growth trigger. Mushrooms are also great for your home garden. Many species grow all season and are easy to cultivate. You can try growing mushrooms with spray and grow kits without committing. These kits require little care and will only take up a small space on your kitchen countertop or in an indoor area with high moisture levels.
There’s a lot to remember when it comes to growing your own plants and though most will grow without much interference knowing when to plant and what maintenance needs doing is a little taxing. Make sure you keep a careful note of what and where you planted and on what date, then schedule your next gardening dates on your planner to keep up.
Once the weather gets a bit warmer and you’re sitting in your garden tucking into a home-grown salad straight from your patch, you’ll know all the effort was worth it.
Planning for Spring: Your Vegetable Garden