Yes it may still be Winter, but Spring is right around the corner and now is the best time to start planning for your first vegetable garden!
If this is your first year gardening, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information there is to consider. It’s really about getting to know your growing style. By considering where you grow, what to grow and how much of it. The best advice I can give you is to start with a plan.
Spending time now making a plan for the growing season ahead takes away the overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to do next.
Breaking gardening down into small bite sized activities you can fit in and around your other daily activities makes it an enjoyable activity and not a stressful chore you have to complete.
So, now is the time to get a cup of something delicious, a piece of paper, pencil and let’s, set your plan to paper for a fantastic growing year ahead.
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Where To Start When Planning Your First Vegetable Garden
Creating a plan sounds complicated and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. A plan helps you think through your plans and get them out of your head and down on paper so you can clearly see it before you. Consider things like;
• How do you make a plan?
• What should you include?
• How do you know what space you need for different plants?
• What should you grow?
Don’t panick! Let’s break this down and we will be ready to grow before you know it.
1. Firstly, Decide Where You Have Space To Grow
Let’s look at where you want to grow. This doesn’t have to be a full size vegetable garden, ploughed and ready to dig. There are many places you can grow exciting vegetables.
Or Or Do you have a pot on the balcony? Are you going to use or build a raised bed? Maybe you have a small patch of your flower border or lawn you want to convert into a veg bed?Or may be you want to try growing veg in beside your flowers.
It’s important to consider how much sun or shade you have in those areas, whether its sheltered or exposed for exmple. When choosing your growing area, make a note of any restrictions on the area. For example
Some crops like carrots with a long tap root won’t grow well in a shallow container so consider the soil depth.
Some vegetables and fruit need full sun like pumpkins, sweetcorn, and tomatoes so pick a sheltered spot that allows that.
Leafy vegetables like spinach, chard and cabbage can grow well in colder shaded areas.
You also need to consider that some plants need acid soil and others hate it so testing your soil with a quick and easy experiment will give you lots of information about where plants will thrive.
Deciding What To Grow When Planning Your First Vegetable Garden
This is my favourite part. I love the quiet time during the long dark days in January to sort through what crops we’d love to grow.This step is very kid friendly and I love getting everyone involved.
The kids spend hours cutting out pictures and information from seed catalogues and laying them onto a map of our garden and allotment plot to ahow where we will grow them. It’s so good to have a visual picture of our plan.
To decide what we will grow, we first look at;
- Work out where you want to grow and what the individual conditions that you can provide ie shade or full sun, lime or acid soil. (You can get a simple test from the garden centre or this one online is fantastic
- Talk to your family about what fruit and vegetable they will eat. There’s no point wasting time and space on crops your not fussed about or no one will eat.
- Also take into consideration the cost of vegetables. If in your area potatoes are cheap, is it really worth turning over precious growing space to this bulky crop when you could focus on the more expensive to buy or hard to get crops? Growing your own is a wonderful way to add excitement to the colours, types and varieties you grow, many of which you can’t get in a store.
- Collect seed catalogues from seed companies or garden centres or have a look online at the types of seeds your itching to grow.
*Order your seeds.
Go through the information and make a note of the sowing time, planting time and hrvesting time. These seed catalogues also give you a ton of information like what depth to sow your seeds, what conditions your plants need, like sun levels and water. Keep a record of this in a garden journal if you can.
This gives you a place to record ideas and important information for the coming year as well as give you a reference for next year to see what worked and what didn’t and what you did well. You can just use an old diary or notemook but you can also download our garden journal sheets here
When Planning Your First Vegetable Garden Consider Plant Families
OK, so you know what your going to grow but how do you plan where it all goes? Start by grouping the crops you want to grow into groups or plant famillies for example,
- Fruit, which includes, patio fruit and full trees, even indoor lemon trees. Get our Patio Fruit Ebook here
- Peas and beans(Legumes)
- Roots, includes veg like carrot, parsnip, beetroot,
- Potatoes and hungry crops like pumpkins, and tomatoes
- Salad greens, lettuce, chard, spinach, celery and so many more.
- Onions and leeks
- And lastly crops called brassicas which include brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, swede, kohl rabi and broccoli.
Each of these famillies have different needs as well as pests and diseases they can suffer from.
Theres 2 ways i’ve found that help to beat these pests.
1.Mix and Match
Mix all your crops up (the way you would a flower border ) this confuses the pests and limits the amount of damage. You can even use them as companion plants for each other.
2. Companion Planting.
Carrots for example are susceptible to carrot fly. These flies lay their eggs on the roots and the caterpiller like young ruin the roots by munching through them.
However, carrot fly hate the smell of leeks and onions so by interplanting the onions and leeks with carrots or parnips can help hide your precious roots and prevent the flies from finding them.
Right, once you know;
- What you want to grow,
- Found the conditions they
- Decided where you want to get your seeds from ie garden centre, online or, supermarkets even sell a variety of seeds
Now all you need to do is match the right set of plants to the area or pot with the best conditions you can provide.
I hope this information has helped you plan your patch of garden however big or small. Try not to worry too much. The plants usually find a way to grow so if you get something wrong it’s not the end of the world.
Get the kids involved in this step and plan together. This helps them feel involved and eager to take part and help create the end result.