Organic Home Grown Vegetables. The Potager
The Joy of Vegetable growing.
No, the title is not an oxymoron. There is real joy in planting a vegetable plot and then harvesting the produce for the family table or to sell for extra income. The size of the plot doesn't have to be big and with the rise in apartment dwelling even those with limited space can grow lots of vegetables in pots. Nothing beats the taste of freshly dug new potatoes or peas straight off the vine. Many countries have a system of Allotments, plots of land set aside for citizens to rent at nominal fees. This is not complete guide to Vegetable growing but a brief outline to get you started.
Veggie Gardening par Exellence
Getting Started with Vegetable Growing
Allotments are fun and allow a little home from home in a convivial atmosphere. Most allotments have a shed. Many started up during WWII with the "Dig for victory" campaign. My early memories included visits to my Granddad's allotment where with much giggling we would hide away and he would have a smoke away from my Nan's disapproving looks. Swaps of surplus vegetables, left over seeds, bags of well rotted dung with neighboring plot holders all added to the pleasure of the Allotment way of life.
If you have no plot set aside for vegetables, it may be wise to consider raised beds. This way you can start small and add extra beds as needed. Raised beds are better in many ways as it is easier for elderly or disabled people to attend to their vegetables without bending and can give wheelchair access. Plots should be sited with maximum sunshine. Vegetables need sunshine to grow.Some vegetables like pole beans can be grown up sticks so taking up less room.
Make a list of your or your families favorite vegetables, bearing in mind that some vegetables may need years to become established like asparagus or globe artichokes. Some of these vegetables look good in flower garden too. If you are starting from scratch in bare uncultivated ground, potatoes are usually the first thing to plant as they break up the ground and make it easier to turn over. Select a place for a compost heap where vegetable waste and garden waste may be composted as nutrients will be needed to produce good crops. The importance of composting cannot be over emphasised in good garden practice Not only do they save room in your garbage can but they give free valuable compost for your garden.
The best time of year to start your garden is in the Spring when the growing season for your Zone is due to start. These Zones vary across the country and give you the length of growing season, Consult the Internet to find out when yours begins. Make sure the earth is turned over and raked to a fine tilth. Mark out your rows so that seedlings may be spotted easily and a hoe can be used between the rows. Second hand Gardening tools may be found for sale on Craigslist or often in Thrift shops. I have found that cheap new garden tools are not a great saving as they do not last. My spade, fork and garden trowel are stainless steel and slide easily in the ground I have been using them for over thirty years and they are still as good as new. I treasure them and keep them bright. They were such a great investment.
Buy good quality seed or get a head start by buying plants ready started in little pots but take care when decanting them as the main stem is very vulnerable where it leaves the soil. The lay out of your Potager, the French word of Veggie Plot can be very beautiful especially if you have a section for useful herbs. Hardy herbs can be perreial in most districts and are useful in the kitchen with their fresh flavor. Again I usually grow mine in flower beds near the kitchen. Basil being tender often does well on the kitchen window sill.
The best animal manure to use is well rotted horse manure, cow is not so good and chicken needs to be mixed with a lot of straw and well rotted. A large English garden attached to a Stately home has added a straw bale for male gardeners to pee onto, when saturated the bale is added to the compost heap. This is not only inconvenient for the female gardeners but their Pee is too acid! Most people want an organic garden these days which precludes artificial fertilizer, however a well managed garden with a compost heap should keep up its fertility. Another way is to use green fertilizer, seeds of cress are planted and allowed to grow a little and are then dug into the soil.
With careful planning It is possible to supply your kitchen for large periods of the year with great fresh vegetables There are many inexpensive books to help you get started. It is both fun and healthy. Enjoy!