Planning your Spring veggie patch
Whilst we are still in the depths of Winter, a little planning now will see you harvesting an abundance come mid to late Spring and throughout Summer.
Here are some tips to get your planning process started:
1. Most veggies require at least 8 hours of sunlight per day to grow strongly. They also prefer not to have competition from surrounding, established trees. Where possible, a dedicated open space will serve you well.
2. Smaller and manageable is better than large and overwhelming. Summer veggies generally need daily attention (watering, weeding, harvesting, pest control), so consider how much time you can allocate to the patch each day. Whilst you may have dreams of self sufficiency, starting small will give you the "runs on the board". Starting large without the time to adequately tend your garden can quickly lead to disappointment as crops grow too large to harvest (yes massive zucchini I am thinking about you!), weeds overtake salad leaves and veggies wither due to lack of water.
3. Consider the space a mature plant will require before planting or seeding. If your bed space is only 2 metres by 2 metres, and you wish to plant a rhubarb crown, you must consider that a healthy, mature rhubarb plant needs a space of 1 metre by 1 metre. It's hard to believe, particularly when the crown you buy is so very small to begin with. So if the mature plant requires half the growing space, it limits what you can grow alongside it. In this case, perhaps one tomato plant surrounded by fast growing crops such as lettuce, radish or herbs. And of course, smaller annuals such as carrots or beetroot could be planted alongside the rhubarb crown so they are harvested before the crown has grown to maturity.
4. In deciding what to plant, consider what you like to eat and what you find most difficult to buy. Often I will be asked what seeds may be planted "now". I might say "radish", to which the response is "Oh, I don't like radish but if it will grow now, I will buy a packet of seed just to have a go." This is likely to lead to failure simply because if you don't want to eat it, you will be less likely to want to tend to it, nor taste it to see if it is ready to be harvested. If your family loves tomatoes, grow tomatoes! If you find it hard to buy crisp, crunchy lettuce, then grow your own. You will have a greater chance of success from germination to harvest by choosing crops you know you will eat.
A bit of "food for thought" to get you started.