My very first vegetable garden was as a teenager …a long time ago. I had a little piece of dirt near the bike shed. I recall the poor quality of the dirt and the frustration with my limitations with access to good compost. However I did manage to produce a lot of raddish's and rhubarb. The raddish's were sweet, hot and yummy and the rhubarb got turned into fruit crumble with lots of sugar and cream to dull the tart taste.
Forward several years, actually decades and I'm still at it and still loving getting my fingers in the dirt.
It is spring here in New Zealand and I am just in the middle of getting my spring and summer vegetable garden planned and prepared. I love this time of year, fresh blossom scents in the air, followed by sneezing fits, dam the pollen.
2015/16 Summer Vege Garden
I thought that I would take you through how I prepare for each season. It is very much the same process, just different crops depending on the season.
It all starts with my notebook, it's my garden bible. In my notebook I write everything down about my garden, what I planted, where I planted, when I planted, quality of the crop, health issues, weather, everything that I experience in the garden for the season.
I do this for each season. This gives me a really good view of how my garden works and what grows well and where. As I am currently planning for my spring and summer garden I look back at last years spring/summer garden notes as reference.
I decide, based on the success of last years crop, what I am going to plant, noting the variety to buy.
The garden planting plan is the next step. I do rotate my crops so, again checking on where I planted last year is important.
Once I have mapped out the planting plan, I then work out the timing.
Timing? Ok so to work out when you want your crops to be ready you have to work backwards to figure out when to plant. Simple example of that is new potatoes and baby peas for the Christmas dinner. To be able to harvest in time for Christmas day I must have the potatoes in by early September.
If you are not sure of the timeframes just check the information on your seed or plant packs. They normally describe how many weeks to harvest.
This is where you realise that you are not garden fit, but don't worry you will be by the time you have finished. It is just a matter of hard manual labour, digging, turning soil over and composting. You can use your own compost or source some from the local garden centre. Just ensure that it is a good quality one as you don't want any bugs or foreign weeds in your patch. This is where I do a shout out for ZooDoo, yes that local zoo pooh that has been turned into rich organic matter. It's a bit smelly but pretty special.
You must have a lovely rich soil base to grow strong healthy vegetables, so this stage is really important.
This is my favourite bit, as once planted I sit back and watch my babies grow.
You may be planting out over a couple of weeks depending on the timing of your harvest.
I do cover my seedlings initially to protect the from the birds. Do be careful not to cover for too long as they need full light to grow well.
I like to plant at the end of the day and water them well in the cool of the early evening. I think this is the best time to water as it really soaks in.
Always read the planting guide just to ensure that you are planting them out appropriately.
As an example Corn needs to be planted in a square/block as opposed to a row.
Weed, feed and water
Growing vegetables need a lot of food and water. During the growing season I build up the soil by composting regularly.
I do try and be as organic as I can be with my feed and compost as I believe it makes yummy vegetables. There are some good organic options that you can source from garden centres. However I do not think you can go past good old worm juice.
Over the years, I have noticed from my notes, that I don't get as much disease and bugs when I have been consistent with good feed and compost.
And lastly don't forget to water, a lot. In Auckland we are blessed with rain, however even in summer it can get a bit dry so I do water the vegetables. A couple of times a week is good if it is very dry. I always water in the early evening as its the best time for the soil to absorb the moisture.
2015/16 first harvest of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and may be you got something useful from it.
Please let me know if you have any questions or any other aspects of seasonal gardening that you want to know, such as composting, feeding, or crop varieties.
Enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Hugs and smiles