Have you always wanted to start your own fruit and veggie garden? If you are moving into a more permanent place or your forever home – now is the perfect time to start with the arrival of spring. Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for creating your very own fruit and veggie garden!
The first thing to consider when starting a garden from scratch is what kind of garden bed you want to be planting in. The choice between pots, raised garden beds, and growing your veggies in the ground is fraught with complications. Do you want the flexibility to arrange plants in your own style, or are you more worried about pest control and weed management?
If you’re starting your vegetable garden in the ground, you’ll have a larger area to work with and more room to position your veggies how you want them, but snails, slugs, grass, and weeds will find easy access to your plants. Where the ground is, to all intents and purposes, essentially infinite, pots offer a defined and very limited space, and only plants with shallow roots will be able to cope with life in a pot.
Increased drainage and protection from weeds may not be enough to make up for the inconvenience of pots, including their inefficient use of space.
Raised garden beds offer a good middle ground between pots and in-ground gardens. Your plants will still be limited by the size of the plot, but it’ll be a little harder for weeds to spread than it would be in the ground, and snails won’t have quite as easy a time finding your lettuces.
It’s also worth considering accessibility for your future life as an avid gardener – in-ground gardens will have you on your knees a lot, while raised beds are a little higher, and pots can be placed on stands and hung on frames to be accessible at any height. Committing to a garden means checking on it at least every few days, watering regularly, and remembering to fertilise. Plan the layout of your garden not just to suit your aesthetic, but to suit your lifestyle as well.
If you’ve ever put ripe bananas in the fruit bowl with apples, you understand that plants have a complex system of hormone excretion, and these hormones tend to affect other plants, both of the same and different species. Like how keeping fruit together will ripen them faster, companion planting is all about knowing which plants are likely to get along, and which pairs might kill each other. A plant with a maze of roots is likely to steal all the soil nutrients and won’t share space well with neighbouring plants. Some plants, like tomatoes and cabbages, will grow well together because one repels a pest that likes to snack on the other.
Taller fruit trees can offer too much shade for smaller plants, and all plants need at least a few hours of sunlight, so it’s best to pick plants that will not complete for the best sun. It’s always best to follow the advice on the seed packet or punnett. Information on how large you can expect a plant to grow will help you plan out your garden to keep all your fruits and veggies from competing.
For an easy start to gardening; tomatoes are a good first plant, and a herb garden is super versatile and always handy. Before choosing your plants, you should know if your climate is tropical or temperate or something in between, and you should take note of the season.
Check with your local plant nursery to find out which season your pick of fruits and veggies should be planted in, but keep in mind that plants take time to grow, and, especially with fruit, you may not get a good harvest for a few years yet. But just because you’re moving house in winter doesn’t mean you can’t start a garden – onions are a good example of a vegetable that’ll grow well in winter. Some plants will survive better if they’re planted in winter, because it trains them to defend against frost.
There are a lot of other creatures out there who want to take advantage of all your hard work – you have to protect your new fruits and veggies from pests. Remember to wrap your trees in netting to keep the birds from eating all your juicy fruit. Snail pellets will keep the little monsters off your cabbages, but be careful if you have pets or small children. You can get safer snail pellets without dangerous ingredients to protect your family from poisoning, or you can plant high-risk veggies in raised garden beds or pots to protect them from snails.
Starting a fruit and veggie garden is easier than it may seem, and having a good garden will make your days out in the sun feel brighter. So stock up on soil, fertiliser, and mulch and say hello to your own organic produce!