Thursday, 5 July 2012
Growing fruit and veg at home
When you’re thinking about where to grow fruit and vegetables in your garden, bear the following considerations in mind for the best results:
Try to find a sunny spot with good drainage. A south-facing aspect is ideal.
Avoid overhanging tree branches and shade cast by buildings or hedges.
Make sure there is plenty of water. Avoid the area next to hedges as this tends to be dry.
Provide shelter from wind. You may need to put up a windbreak.
Make sure there is protection from marauding wildlife. You may need a rabbit proof fence.
Fruit and vegetable plots require quite a lot of work – planting, weeding, watering, tying, harvesting, manuring and so on. So make your life as easy as possible by designing the plot ergonomically - making it low maintenance.
A good idea is to divide the plot into four areas – this enables you to rotate the crops, minimising disease problems.
Ensure the paths between the beds are wide enough to take a wheelbarrow, and have a hard surface – paving slabs will stop your feet getting too muddy.
Beds about 1.2m (4ft) wide with paths all around are perfect, because you can water and weed without getting on to the bed.
There’s room for a few fruit and vegetables in any garden, no matter how small.
You don’t have to have a dedicated fruit and vegetable plot to grow them successfully. You can mix them in with your flowering plants. It’s what cottage gardeners have done for centuries.
You can grow vegetables among ornamentals (or vice versa). There are many varieties which have ornamental qualities, such as red flowered beans, crinkly leaved lettuce, black French beans and yellow tomatoes.Even the frilly foliage of the humble carrot is pretty.
Use vertical spaces in the garden. How about creating a temporary ‘hedge’ of runner beans over a net, or putting a few willow teepees in a bed and growing beans, gourds, cucumbers or melons over them?
Then there are containers. A patio of potatoes, prize petunias and pelargoniums will get them talking! Salad leaves, herbs, courgettes and climbing beans all grow perfectly well in containers. On a warm sunny patio, add tomatoes and sweet peppers to the list.
Growing vegetables and fruit successfully is basically no different to growing ornamental plants successfully. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you. Start with good plants or seed, give them what they want: food, water and light - and they’ll do the work for you.
Improving the soil
Vegetables and fruit are greedy devils, and where do you think they get all the goodness they need? Yes, the soil. It’s important to incorporate lots of bulky organic manure and fertiliser every year.
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