Growing beetroot Growing tomatoes Growing onions Growing vegetables Growing carrots Growing chilies Growing brinjals

Starting a Vegetable Garden

A strawberry seedling
A newly planted strawberry seedling

When planning a vegetable garden you need to meet a few basic requirements. These requirements are: selecting the right spot, having the right equipment, laying out, sowing and planting the vegetable garden, and feeding the soil together with nurturing the seed and the consequent seedlings.

Planning a Vegetable Garden

Selecting the vegetable garden site

When choosing an appropriate site for your vegetable garden it is best that, as a beginner vegetable gardener, you choose a spot that get full sun during the day. Morning sun and afternoon shade is the best for vegetable cultivation. Although you should not fret because any piece of ground in any place can be utilized. Any spot in your backyard, patio or even on your balcony would do. Important to keep in mind is that all plants require sunlight, light and air. Sunlight is important for the formation of chlorophyll and the manufacturing of carbohydrates by the leaves. Thus it would be wise to not have your vegetable garden situated right adjacent to your house or even under a big tree which might have a very wide canopy. You might end up with too much shade and too little air and your vegetables will have to compete with the stronger root system of the tree. Air is mportant to combat the conditions that make fungal growth and its related diseases thrive. Try to avoid damp spots such as an area near to a down pipe.

The vegetable garden layout

Do not be too ambitious in the beginning. Start with a small vegetable garden as you will soon find that even the smallest of spaces can yield an enormous crop of fresh vegetables. With clever planning you will save both time and effort. You can even manage to make your vegetable garden a focal point in your garden. The interesting foliage and color of the vegetable plants can make for attractive focal points. The lovely dove-grey foliage of Jerusalem Artichokes can be very beautiful. The serrated leaves and blue almost purple brushes and the light green with the dark red lined new rosettes that form when growing vegetables and salads such as lettuce, beets, spinach, Swiss chard and the cure little Brussels sprouts can all make for an unusual focal point especially when it is grown in combination with companion plants such as herbs, Nasturtiums, Marigolds, Petunias, and the like. The size of your plot will obviously determine the design of your vegetable garden. With a small area you will probably benefit more by integrating your vegetable garden with the flower or main garden. In a big garden, your vegetable garden can either form one room in your garden design or the focal point of the garden. With little or no space as is the case with living in an apartment building and you are fortunate enough to have a balcony then a container vegetable garden would be ideal. Many vegetables lend themselves to growing successfully in containers. Container vegetable gardening can include lettuce, carrots, beets, radish, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, certain types of pumpkins, strawberries, etc. These can also be grown quite successfully in a small vegetable garden.

The vegetable garden layout
The vegetable garden layout design

Some examples of vegetable garden layouts can be: square, long, rectangular, L-shaped and even round. With a circular or round and even a square vegetable bed it is advisable to plant the bigger, taller vegetables like mealies (corn, Zea maize) beans, brinjals (eggplants), rhubarb or even gooseberries in the centre so that it does not intervene with the sunlight and air circulation of the other smaller vegetables. Then plant vegetables such as tomatoes and spinach, potatoes, onion, celery, broccoli around the taller vegetables. Follow this circle with smaller vegetables such as beets, carrots, cabbages, mint or lettuce.

With a long vegetable bed the bigger vegetables can be planted in the middle row with the medium height vegetables in rows on either side of these bigger vegetables and the rows right at the back and the front can be occupied with the smaller vegetables.

With an L-shaped vegetable bed the same principles would be valid except that the vegetable bed would be in two parts. In the event of your vegetable garden being against an incline or a fence, then the tallest vegetables should preferably be planted against the back fence with the smaller vegetables in front of them and the smallest right in front.

Make sure that you have the right equipment such as: a machete to clear the soil, a spade or shovel to work the ground, a fork to work the ground if the soil is clayey or stony, a hoe to draw soil up to the plants and remove weeds, a rake to break up clods, a watering can to wet and water the vegetables without damaging them (this is especially important in the case of small plants), and of course a wheelbarrow to transport your manure and compost, etc. other important equipment includes garden gloves, rubber boots, an old mat to kneel on when necessary, and a hand fork and hand-spade.