The benefits of home grown produce are huge – cheaper, fresher, more flavourful and extremely satisfying! If you’re new to vegetable gardening, don’t be daunted – these simple guidelines are easy to follow and intended for beginner veggie gardeners.
Choose your location and size
Choose a level site with at least 8 hours of direct sun. Close to the house is preferable as usually the water supply will be at the house and harvesting is more convenient. 16’ x 20’ is a good size for a family of 4, although you may want to start smaller this year – you can always increase in size next year.
Prepare the soil
If the site was previously a garden, add some compost or manure, then dig in by hand or till with a motorized tiller. If the site is currently lawn, remove the sod and add triple mix topsoil, then manure or compost. Till after each addition. Do not prepare the soil if the ground is still too wet – wait for it to dry up. A layer of Barnyard Gold mulch can be applied on top of the soil. This will help reduce weeds and also breakdown over the season, adding organic matter to the soil.
Choose your new vegetable crops
Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, swiss chard, eggplant and why not some basil and parsley too. These are all good choices for beginners and can be grown from transplants, avoiding dealing with seed. Grow only those veggies that you enjoy eating!
Plant the vegetables
Plant the above crops after all danger of frost has passed – usually the end of May or beginning of June in this area. Some crops can be planted earlier, but stick with these easy ones for your first year! Lay out your plants in the pots before planting and plan where the walkways will be, if required. Larger crops such as squash, cucumbers and tomatoes will need to be spaced about 2’ apart, whereas lettuce, swiss chard and beans can be placed 4 – 6” apart. Plant in a hole a bit wider than the plant and ensure the plant is at the same depth as it was in the pot. One exception to this rule is tomatoes – they can be planted deeper, up to the 2nd set of leaves. Water well after planting. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer – we use Actisol pellets.
Ensure that you stay on top of weeding and water well during dry periods. The best time for watering is early morning or evening. Keep a look out for insect pests. Tomatoes can be caged or staked as they grow. Fertilize with Actisol organic fertilizer about once a month.
Harvest your vegetables!
This is the best part – pick ripened crops frequently to encourage more production. Eat up and enjoy your newfound success as a veggie gardener!! Check out our favourite vegetable recipes ->