The early bird catches the worm, so the old saying goes. Although planning a vegetable patch may not be at the top of your list as we head towards winter, we recommend spending some time now planning next year’s crop, in order to reap the best rewards. Successful crops require careful planning and time spent on this now will be well rewarded next Spring.
But before we start, take heed of some sobering advice. More often than not, our decisions on what to grow – be it fruit, vegetables or herbs – are based on our taste buds. While this is, of course, an important driver, there is often scant advice on what we should grow and where.
In this article, we look at factors affecting the success – or otherwise – of the grow your own culture.
Gardens that are rectangular in shape offer many benefits for the vegetable grower, capturing the sun in the south and in the west. Vegetables that thrive in sunny conditions include sweetcorn, tomatoes, potted chillies and herbs such as oregano, basil and thyme.
Shade in gardens – often in the north and east areas – offer the perfect conditions for a variety of vegetables. Broad beans, spinach and salad leaves flourish in such surroundings, along with Jerusalem artichokes and parsley. It’s worth remembering that in darker, more moisture-laden environments, slugs, snails and a host of vegetable threatening diseases can take hold. We recommend keeping the air flowing by widening spacings and working to control slugs and snails.
Sun and shade
Such are the vagaries of our garden plots, that there are often spots that combine a bit of both sun and shade. Don’t despair, as early pea varieties are perfect for such areas. Sow them under glass in February and by the end of March, when the soil is beginning to wake up, they can be planted. Such a helping hand will encourage the development of a sturdy root system which will take hold in the soil. Similarly, runner beans, squashes and corn also benefit from being started under cover. When planting them out, remember to add a layer of organic matter, which helps to protect them against summer heat and drought, as well as keeping them moist.
Poor quality soil can hinder even the most committed of vegetable gardeners. To ensure your soil is in tip top condition, make sure it is well-aerated, remove stones to allow roots to grow unhindered, and feed it with organic matter which provides the nutrients for crops to grow.
There are many benefits of creating a vegetable patch, from improving your emotional, physical and mental health, to having more exciting and flavoursome meals. Happy growing!