November 6, 2014

It’s so rewarding planting your own vegies and herbs, and watching them grow plump and vivid, ready to be tossed into springtime salads.

Vegetables love (and need) sunshine, so start off by finding a spot that gets at least six hours of it a day, and is sheltered from strong winds that will over-dry the soil. Create a decent-sized bed – the rule is bigger is better, but as long as everything you plant is within reach. Making it longer than it is wide means you’ll be able to reach everything in the patch without treading on other plants.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, section it off with a stable barrier of timber sleepers or hard-wearing Besser blocks. Use a garden fork to turn the soil over, and add your choice of nutrient-rich supplements – manure, compost, fresh soil and fertilisers.

When it comes to planting, you can choose to start with seeds or seedlings, depending on how impatient you are. Generally, it’s best to divide patches into four sections that let you feed different plants with the specific nutrients they need: beans and peas, leafy greens, fruiting veg, and root and stem crops. If you’re a beginner, however, it’s easiest to start simple with tomatoes and basil. (Think of the pasta sauces you’ll make!)

As with all plants, it’s important to water your vegies well every few days. Keep an eye on your patch for the first couple of weeks – you don’t want any bugs feasting on or weeds dominating in your patch before the first harvest.

When that time comes, celebrate by throwing a vegie-based feast for friends and family. The flavour of fresh, garden-grown vegetables in your favourite dishes is unbeatable.

Outdoor spring-clean checklist

  • Renew your old outdoor furniture with a fresh coat of paint or stain
  • Clean your gutters to prevent water damage – wear gloves if doing it by hand
  • Give your barbecue a service – replace the aluminium foil in the drip tray, clean the hot plate, grill and body, use canola oil on cast iron surfaces to stop rusting, and replace any cracking hoses
  • Clean out your shed or garage and toss out or repair any rusting garden tools

While you are waiting for your vegetable or herb garden to grow, you can pick up some local produce and spring ingredients features in our previous posts –  Julie’s kitchen in SpringThe sharpest butcher in town and Willowbrae Chevre cheese.

Expect more at Vermont

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