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February 27, 2007

Grow your own vegetables

Filed under: Gardening — DO or DIY @ 12:20 pm

More and more of us want to eat healthy, organic vegetables. Unfortunately the industrialised “organic” production of vegetables is not as pure as it should be, so the only way to make sure your vegetable are truly fresh and organic is to grow them yourself! Also, it is very satisfying to watch your meals grow in your own garden!

However, you should really think about what to grow. It’s really not worth growing things that you can get really cheaply at a market, such as normal potatoes and onions, particularly if you don’t have a big garden.  Instead opt for gourmet crops such as shallots, beans, new potatoes, peas, chards, spinach and lettuces..

Now is the time to start preparing your garden for planting. First make a plan and decide what you want to grow where. The key is not to plant too much of any one type of crop and to think ahead of efficiently utilising the soil throughout the season.  You should now buy or order your seeds!

Then you’ll need to prepare the ground. If you have an existing vegetable plot, use a traditional rotation plan – i.e. move crops to different section of the plot each year to build fertility and avoid pests and diseases. If you have poor soil, it might be a good idea to raise the bed and fill it with good quality compost. Either way, you should only work the soil on a sunny day – in order to avoid compaction, don’t do anything when the soil is wet. Remove weeds and fork over the plot – digging is not required. Add a thick layer of good quality compost (your own or buy some in your local garden centre), then rake the soil with a stiff rake to a fine consistency – this is particularly necessary for small seeds. Then, using a string line, mark out rows and you are ready to sow your seeds. Follow the instructions on the packet as to when and how densely to sow. Don’t forget to leave sticks with labels on them to remind you what you have planted and when!

So, as you can see, growing your own vegetables is not as daunting as it may have seemed. Even if you have a small garden or a courtyard, you can grow some really tasty meals! Many vegetables (such as tomatoes) grow well in pots too. In the next article, you can read about growing the most common vegetables – what varieties are worth growing yourself and when they need to be sown.

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