For some time we have observed a renewed interest in gardening. In urban areas as in the countryside, flowering plants and vegetables of all kinds give a new dimension to gardens, balconies and terraces. Gardening today is a real Art of living. It offers great satisfactions and is among the many activities beneficial to physical and mental health. It would therefore be a shame to deprive yourself of it, if only for the happiness of working in the open air. To help beginners who are reluctant to take their first steps, here are 6 tips for getting your vegetable garden off to a good start.
1 – Observe your land
We can never advise beginners enough not to throw themselves headlong into the creation of a vegetable garden without having previously taken sufficient time to observe, note and reflect. A land must first be understood so that it can be developed as wisely as possible. The information statement must therefore include:
- The position of the house, the neighboring buildings, as well as those of the openings overlooking the land,
- The establishment of trees and shrubs, whether isolated, in groups or whether it is a hedge, as well as that of other plants (roses, hydrangeas, cannas, etc.),
- The passage of underground cables and various pipes,
- The positioning of electric and telephone wires overhead if they pass over the ground,
- Areas of shade cast by a fence wall, a building, trees, at each hour of the day, as well as areas of full sunlight.
After such inventoryit will be much easier to find theprivileged location of the vegetable garden to meet plantation needs. This can also be useful if you want to spend time there out of sight of neighbors or if you want to be able to admire it from the house.
The time for reflection is long. Ideally, the field study takes at least one year since each season the areas of shade and sunshine vary somewhat, and their duration as well. You also learn to identify areas that remain wet for a long time after heavy rains or those, on the contrary, that are always very dry… It’s very instructive for organize your garden afterwards.
2 – Choose the ideal location for your vegetable garden
A vegetable garden should be placed at a strategic place for crops to thrive. After taking the time to observe your land, you preferably choose an area of the garden:
- Oriented south / southwest so that the plantations benefit from a maximum of sunshine which favors early harvests,
- Sheltered from the prevailing winds,
- Away from trees that provide too much shade and risk competing with vegetable plants,
- At least 2.50 m from an enclosing wall and much further from a dwelling that casts its shadow far away,
- Preferably fairly flat rather than on a steep slope or in a basin so that rainwater and irrigation water do not stagnate there,
- Easy to access in all weathers,
- Near a water point to make watering easier.
To place your vegetable garden in the best possible place, it is therefore essential to know which area of the land is the most sunny and the most sheltered from strong winds while still benefiting from a sufficient ventilation because a location that is too confined is not beneficial to plants.
Even if it is not desirable that the vegetable garden be completely under perpetual shade, it can be interesting that a part is partial shade during the hottest hours of the day because some vegetables do not like the scorching sun, such as lettuce, for example. This is why once we have found the best location to cultivate, we draw up a plan of the vegetable garden on paper.
3 – Develop a plan of the vegetable garden
A meter, a pencil, a notebook and let’s go! the plan must indicate:
- The dimensions of the plot to be cultivated,
- with form
- The central driveway (main), if possible grassed, 80 cm wide because it must be accessible to the tiller and the wheelbarrow,
- Paths 30 to 40 cm wide allowing easy access to the various beds of vegetables, both for their maintenance and for harvesting without having to trample the plantations. If they are paved, these small paths remain practicable in bad weather.
- The location of the pile of humus.
When planning your garden, practicality and comfort are also important criteria.
It is then necessary to divide the plot into different areas of 1 m², knowing that you can grow vegetables and aromatics in beds, rows or squares. When drawing the plan of the vegetable garden, it is important to take into account the following points:
- The species to be cultivated in the most suitable location (full sun, partial shade, shade),
- The number of plants per square meter as well as the yield depending on the species grown, for example on 1 m²:
- 3 stalks of tomatoes for 10 kg,
- 1 courgette stalk for 5 to 7 kg…
- A small location in a corner reserved for compost which will then be used to naturally fertilize the land.
You can reserve a small plot, slightly sloping and facing south, if you wish to carry out subsequent early sowing which must be protected by a tunnel or one frame. But this requires having enough space.
4 – Identify the soil of your vegetable garden and prepare it
Plants in the vegetable garden, like all other plants, must be able to benefit from suitable growing conditions in terms of exposure but also soil quality. Not all vegetables tolerate poor soil, or soil that is too calcareous, soil that is too acidic, or even too heavy… To be able to select the products to grow, we therefore learn to know the soil in your garden then we work this land so that it is ready to receive seedlings and plantations.
On virgin land, that is to say land that has never been cultivated, it is necessary to pass the spade or, better, the tiller in order to unpack and of theloosen. This is essential to allow young plants and seeds to take root easily and more generally to all crops to prosper.
Good topsoil should be fine en surface et cabinet 30 to 40 cm deep, but also cleared of stones, plant debris and weed roots. Finally, you should know that good plowing allowsaerate the earth intended for cultivation. We take advantage of the plowing to make a addition of compost well decomposed.
Plowing can be done in autumn. But at this time of year, many local herbs have already gone to seed. Burying them in the ground may encourage their proliferation. Better to pull them out beforehand. On the other hand, if plowing takes place In early springweeds can be buried without risk provided that care has been taken to eliminate their roots at the same time as the stones.
5 – Delineate a small plot intended for cultivation
No need to have eyes bigger than your stomach. If one wishes start a vegetable garden, it is more reasonable to settle for a small surface, knowing that 50 m² perfectly exploited over the seasons can feed a person for 1 year. This advice applies especially to novice gardeners who are still working and have little free time to take care of their vegetable garden. Seniors can start with a bigger garden, without going overboard so as not to become slaves to it. We therefore try to assess the family needs that cultures are able to fill.
It is more than enough to start with a vegetable garden of a hundred square meters. This allows you to practice without risking being overtaken by events. It is indeed necessary to learn how to sow, transplant, plant, fertilize, to manage watering according to the species cultivated, the season, the weather conditions. It is also necessary to be able to treat in case of parasites or disease and to be there at the right time in order to harvest because the goal is to be able taste the products of the garden when ripe. On a plot of 100 m² it is also possible to trace the paths and install a small greenhouse or a shed.
6 – Grow easy-going vegetables
Nothing is more encouraging to a novice gardener than harvest your first vegetables. So we start with select the easiest to grow to have fun, for example:
- cherry tomato,
- The lettuce,
- The radish,
- The carrot,
- The courgette,
- pole bean,
- The pepper.
We don’t forget the precious ones aromatic herbs and the condimentaires but also some edible flowers that make the taste buds sing, such as:
- The Basilic,
- True laurel or laurel sauce,
When buying his seeds to sow or his plants in pots, it is essential to learn about their needs in order to group them in the same area of the garden. There is little risk of making a mistake as long as we take care to group plants by family because their behavior and their needs are quite similar. Finally, it is useful to learn to practice the rotation des cultures so as not to exhaust the soil, to minimize the risk of disease in the garden and attacks by pests that are harmful to the plants.
After having tasted his first harvests, the novice gardener will not only be proud of the work accomplished, but also encouraged to continue his fun activity and it’s a safe bet that the plot reserved for the vegetable garden will quickly grow.