What you need to know before starting your vegie patch

Location is important to consider when growing your own veg. Picture: Supplied.
Location is important to consider when growing your own veg. Picture: Supplied.

When it comes to success in the vegie patch it's all about location, location, location.

Choose a site that receives at least six hors of direct sunlight and drains well. If space is limited, containers make a great alternative to fixed garden beds.

Nutritious vegies come from nutrient-rich soil, incorporating plenty of organic matter in preparation for planting and applying the correct type of fertiliser at the appropriate time and rate.

Failure to provide plants with correct nutrition or improperly fertilising plants lowers yields and reduces quality.

It may sound simplistic, but many gardeners fail to plan and consider the mature size of the plants being grown.

Seedlings and container plants don't stay small for long. Overcrowding plants in any type of garden results in plants competing for light, water, nutrients, and space.

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Tightly-packed plants will also increase humidity by restricting air flow which can lead to the development of fungal diseases.

Planting the garden in one day will tick one task off the to-do list, but this leads to short harvest periods for many types of vegies like corn, lettuce, radish and beans. Extend the harvest period by planting smaller rows of these crops every two weeks.

Having a good understanding of individual plant needs and the type of soil is a good starting point to determining water requirements.

Soils with high clay content naturally hold moisture for longer periods than free-draining, sandy soils. It is recommended that when watering any soil type that adequate water is applied to penetrate deep, encouraging good, deep, root growth.

Light, frequent watering leads to developing surface roots that dry out quickly and stress plants. Deep watering once every four days is usually enough, but remember to ease off if there has been a lot of rain.

The key to managing plant problems is through close monitoring, which will lead to early identification of a problem before it becomes a liability.

Weed control can be as simple as hand weeding, a task that many gardeners detest but one that keeps us humble. The old saying goes "one year seeding, seven years weeding" ... so weed it or weep.

More people are taking up gardening, so join the movement because life's a garden.

  • John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher with a love for green spaces.
This story The dos and don'ts of growing a successful vegie garden first appeared on The Canberra Times.