Although there will be plenty of toil involved in raising your own produce aisle, that part does not begin for at least a few months. The genesis of the vegetable patch occurs in the middle of winter when, looking into your roast dinners, you wonder about all the bad noise that the supermarkets are getting for their treatment of crops and whether you might do a better job. The answer is, yes you can!
Your first priority when deciding a site for a veg patch is sunlight, as the greater their exposure to it will determine the variety of what you can grow. So, plant on each extreme of your north/south axis to allow full sunlight to hit the length of the plot, also make sure that this will not be compromised by existing trees or fences. If possible, for convenience sake, try to plant near the kitchen.
Size is a major part of your planning process and depends entirely on your means – address why you’re growing the plot. First time hobby? Economic solution to the loss of your nectar card? The reasoning dictates how large or small the plot will be based on how much of your garden you are willing to invest.
If a larger plot is out of the question, or you’re unsure of what size would suit your needs, then may I suggest a simple window box. Starting with a minor project like a herb garden will not only familiarise you with the plants themselves, but will also provide a point of comparison to base future projects on.
Other small scale ideas include grow-in-the-bag tomatoes and there is also a range of salad stuff that you can grow in a window box or garden tub, cropping repeatedly from single cuttings, such as lettuce, mustard and pak choi. You can even grow potatoes in a large pot on your patio.
If you have a bit more room, and time (!) you might consider something larger scale. The style of bedding you tuck your plants into is more a cosmetic choice. There are no hard and fast rules only preferences, but the raised bed has seen a boom among vegetable gardeners recently for its adaptability. Being a contained environment it will allow you to grow on otherwise unsuitable sites and also affords complete mastery of the soil content and drainage. And if that weren’t enough, it’s certainly a lot easier on your back! Another advantage of a simple timber, or sleeper built bed, is that of an easier workload, as you don’t have to double dig every season. But, if your vegetable patch is more frivolous than that of a kitchen gardener, then you may want to avoid the labour of building a raised bed or the cost of buying one.
The thing to remember is the commitment being made if you’re serious about growing and propagating a successful cabbage patch or potato pit, however it’s not without its advantages. Aside from the aforementioned money saved, a vegetable patch also provides an educational activity in which young children can partake, teaching values like independence and respect for living things.
Finally, I’m suggesting a list of five staple favourites, both for their ease of cultivation and their popularity on the dinner table. I would recommend trying Carrots, Potatoes, Runner Beans, Parsnips and Sprouts to start and see how you get along.
By Josh Ellison