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Starting Your Own Veggie Garden

Starting your own vegetable garden is a fabulous way of greening your home, school or workplace. This can provide you, and even your friends, family and community with healthy vegetables that are free from harmful pesticides or polluting packaging. For teachers, parents and employees, this is also a great way to encourage team work and a participative attitude towards preserving the environment on an individual level.

Here’s how to make your own vegetable garden:

Choose a spot near the building (office, school or home) that enjoys full sunlight for at least six hours of the day and that is a fair distance away from trees (which can suck up all the water, leaving the vegetable patch dry). When considering where to locate your garden, steer clear of areas in which puddles form after a rain, as this means that drainage is not sufficient in such places. Rather, pick somewhere that is close to your water source (whether a river or hosepipe) and that is convenient for you to access.

Choosing Your Plants
When buying seeds, you will want to choose items that will grow in your area and conditions, but also ones that are well-liked by the family or community. It is easier to plant the seeds in pots in your home and then transplant these into the garden once they are sprouted and stronger. The best plants to grow in terms of ease and popularity are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini (or baby marrows)
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Lettuces
  • Onions

Opt for a small garden if you know that is all you will be able to care for. You can always expand it when you get the hang of it, rather than becoming discouraged and wasting resources by starting out with one that is simply too large to maintain.

Planning the Garden
It is often helpful to draw a diagram so that you can plan each row of your veggie patch according to the expected heights of the plants. Make sure that tall, dense plants are not going to provide too much shade for those around them. If you are planting on an incline (or decline), cut furrows to prevent the water from running from the higher-lying area, leaving it too dry.

Put plants that flourish at similar times together so that these can be picked and replanted without disturbing the others.

Preparing the Soil
Your soil needs to be fertile and easily drained. There should be no stones in it and you should regularly feed it with organic matter, such as compost (vegetable peels, egg shells, and so on). Do not work with soil while it is wet, as it will then harden and cake as it dries, which will make it very difficult for roots to take. Test the pH of your soil and ensure that it is suitable for the vegetables that you have chosen. Ask your local gardening store for assistance with reading and handling pH.

Planting the Vegetables
Water the garden well the day before you will be planting your seeds so that it is moist and at its most fertile.

Stick to the diagram that determines where the different veggies should be planted. Mark the different plants with stakes and put in stakes or trellises for climbing plants. Establish your walking paths through the garden at this stage so that you do not damage or kill young plants by stepping on them before they have even sprouted.

Do not crowd your plants together, but allow adequate space between them. When planting the seeds, do not hold them in your hands, but sprinkle them directly out of the packet and into the small holes you have dug for them. Of course, you will plant several seeds in each hole, just to be safe. Then, cover them with soil and pat the soil firmly on top. Water the soil with a fine spray, not a harsh jet that will disturb the seeds.

Weed your garden regularly so that the vegetables receive all of the water, nutrients and space required. Watch out for pests and ensure that the plants are clean. Do not use pesticides if you can help it, and remember that some bugs are even good for the plants!

When you distribute or sell the delicious vegetables from your garden, make sure that those who receive them are made aware of your environmental initiatives, so that they are encouraged to do the same.

Photo credit: Gardening Garden

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