Other important considerations are water supply. How do you intend to water the plot during hot summers – yes one of these years we may have a hot summer. Do you have a shed or garage you could utilise for rainwater storage? Could you water the garden with watering cans should a hose pipe ban be imposed? Ensuring your plot is well watered is an essential part of getting good yields.
Put in the efforts and you will soon be rewarded with a plentiful supply of fresh salad and vegetable crops to last throughout the growing season. Yes they may not be the same as the vegetables in the shop, and yes they may cost more in time and inital set up, but from the moment you bite into your first produce you will be hooked, vegetable gardening is addictive, so now what's next?
There are two main types of vegetable plots you can choose; the first option is raised planter beds, made from railway sleepers, boards or prefabricated plastic. These are great for people with back problems or who have difficulty bending down, they are also a good option if your soil is not of a good quality for instance being littered with brick rubble or having poor drainage. The downside is initial cost will be higher as extra topsoil and materials are needed at the start. The second option is constructing beds within the ground; this is done by turning over or rotovating the soil. Whichever you choose, aim to make the beds longer than they are wide. We suggest a maximum of 1.5 metres. This enables the whole bed to be reached from the perimeter avoiding soil compaction. Treading or walking on your vegetable plots is not good, as soil compaction can limit your crop growth.
Now that the site has been chosen, it's time to start the hard (but enjoyable) work.
There are a few basic rules to consider about the soil with vegetable gardening, first you must know your soil type.
Main Soil Types
Sounds technical, but it's not! Most garden centres have pH testing kits for sale. These are relatively inexpensive and will give you a rough indication of the pH of your soil. Ideally you will need to take several samples from different areas of your plot especially if it's large. From experience make sure you label each area in case you need to add treatments. It is best to test annually, at least 3 months before or after applying lime, fertiliser or organic matter. Once you have your results you can work out whether your soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline.
Lime is applied for acidic soils and acidifying materials such as sulphur or leaf mold and wood chips for alkaline soils. Neutral soil? Lucky you.
You can construct a vegetable patch at any time of the year, however it's worth noting that organic matter can take a while to break down therefore autumn is the best time.
So now to begin construction of the bed. Plan out the perimeters of your chosen site, construct raised beds or remove turf dependant upon your choice of patch. Beds in the ground will need to be turned over with a fork or a rotovator, ensuring that the soil is worked to a depth of 6 – 8 inches and is a fine tilth, adding organic matter as appropriate.
Now the fun can begin, the options of what to plant are endless and I can guarantee that if you have the space you will extend your vegetable plot year on year.
All the best,
The Greenstow Team
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