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Growing Vegetables and Fruit

Updated on November 30, 2017
Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie loves gardening and spends many hours enjoying it with birds singing in the tree tops it is very relaxing and satisfying in my old age


Growing Vegetables is very popular

There is no more satisfaction than having your own garden and orchard around your home. This love of plants and gardens has been handed down through the generation and today there is more interest than ever in gardening. Whether your garden is a tiny window box in a flat or an extensive area of lawns and shrub borders, the satisfaction obtained from growing one's own plants is immense.

The interest in home-grown produce increases as we become more aware of the importance of good wholesome food in our diets. The high cost of living is an incentive to grow one's own, and the savings to be made by carefully managing a vegetable plot are very worthwhile. I have been growing vegetables and fruit for my family in New Zealand for fifty years, and enjoy every minute of it. I use organic ways as I am a farmer's wife, manure and a compost bin is readily available if you use all wastes and lawn clipping wisely.

10 Ways to Make your Vegetable Garden More Productive in 2017

Urban Vegetable Garden


Preparation of Soil for Growing a Garden

Use all household wastes for compost (Humus)

Use household wastes like vegetable tops, fruit peelings, tea leaves, egg shells, and a whole lot more can be added to compost, making good HUMUS for growing Vegetables and good healthy Fruit Trees that fruit well.


A fertile soil contains all the ingredients a plant needs for healthy growth.

The ideal garden soil will comprise a balanced mixture of sand, clay, and humus.

  • SAND is a valuable component of a fertile soil, it makes the soil more crumbly, aiding aeration and root growth.
  • CLAY is also a valuable component for fertile soils because it is usually well supplied with plant foods. Clay soil also holds on to moisture longer in dry conditions.
  • Pure sand or pure clay will support little plant life. Both components are needed, together with hummus, for a balanced soil.
  • Clay dominant soil will be much improved by the addition of coarse sand while pulverized clay, thoroughly mixed with sand, will go far towards providing a healthy rotting medium.
  • HUMUS, the third major component, is needed before a garden will flourish.

Humus is the term used to describe any well-decayed organic matter. It may come from a variety of sources, leaves, animal manure and peat is examples of substances that will decompose to form humus. The ideal gardening soil is a balance loam. It should be a mixture of equal parts of sand and clay, and plenty of humus. But the soil must also satisfy one other very important requirement, it must be neither acid nor too alkaline.

Most garden vegetables, ornamentals, and fruit trees do best in soil that is either neutral - midway between acid and alkaline or slightly acid. A scale called the pH scale has been developed to assign the degree of soil acidity or alkalinity. The best garden soil will have a pH of between 6.5 and 7.

Generally speaking, trouble starts if the pH drops below 5.5 or rises above 8. Below the 5.5 level, soils become too acid, undesirable organisms thrive and many crops grow only in a stunted fashion. Acid soils can be corrected by dressing with lime or dolomite. Clay soils which are acid can be dramatically improved by liming. In addition to lowering the acidity of such soils, lime improves their physical state as well, when added to clay, lime causes the minute clay particles to group together into 'crumbs'. These larger particles are held together by the surface tension of water, as are the fine particles. So a clay soil treated with lime becomes more crumbly and easier to work.

Plant disorders can also appear if the soil pH is above the 8.0 level, some vital trace elements become locked up or are wasted. If you want a good, all-round growth in your vegetable garden, one of the first things to do is access the pH level of the soil.

SOIL TESTING KITS available at garden centers provide a rough guide and should reveal any serious imbalance. For greater accuracy, several samples should be taken from different parts of the garden.

Growing Vegetable Seed

What Vegetable Seeds do you plant?

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Organic Gardening - grow your own food

Peter Kearney introduces you to the organic and biodynamic gardening educational services of his company City food Growers at

Extensive organic gardening content on vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and grains, which can all be localised online to your climate for every town and city of Australia, USA and New Zealand. Organic and biodynamic gardening workshops and urban agriculture consulting services in Australia, plus online organic gardening educational content for schools in Australia, New Zealand and USA.

Growing Vegetables

Gardening for a great vegetable garden is the same anywhere in the world, in most cases with good rich soil, they will grow the only difference is, selecting the best varieties of seeds and plants for each season, so you can master the art of succession planting, and maximizing the use of space throughout the year to increase production.

Happy Gardening!


It Is Easy to Make Your Own Compost

Compost is the material that results from the storage and decomposition of animal and vegetable wastes. Many gardens and household wastes that are often burnt or sent to the local rubbish tip can be composted and returned to the soil as rich organic material. Household wastes such as vegetable tops, fruit peelings, tea leaves, egg shells, even vacuum cleanings can be added to the compost bin.

Garden leaves and lawn clippings are ideal, and material such as old straw, feathers, wood ashes (from untreated wood) , old sacks, rags, newspapers, flowerheads, even weeds which are not in seed can be added.

Seaweed is also a beneficial ingredient. Deep litter fowl manure is an ideal activator for compost. Never add perennial weeds such as couch, oxalis to the compost.

As the compost is made, a shovelful of animal manure, spread over the heap, is added every 150mm in depth of the compost. If no animal manure is available, sulphate of ammonia or blood and bone can be used as an activator instead.

Water the ingredients well as they are added to the heap, but do not over water to the extent of making the mixture waterlogged.

Vegetable Garden

Photo Credit -
Photo Credit -

Feeding The Soil

Fertile soils contain enough plant food in suitable form for immediate use. They also hold considerable reserves of essential chemicals which in time will be made available by the action of soil inhabitants like worms and bacteria. The gardener's task is to supplement those natural supplies of essential chemicals and balance them where some components are either dominant or lacking. Because the nutrient requirement of various crops tends to vary a good deal, the gardener must also take into account the crops to be grown.

Some plant foods are available almost immediately for absorption by the roots. Others have to be broken down in the soil over a lengthy period. For example, sulphate of ammonia shows its effect on plant foliage within a week. But bonemeal a favorite phosphatic fertilizer for generations of gardeners liberates its phosphorus slowly over a long period.

Fertilizers should be used in conjunction with organic manures and must be used carefully.

Heavy handed application of fertilizers is more likely to damage plants than to encourage strong healthy growth. The elements that are usually deficient in soils are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and sometimes magnesium.

Except for calcium, these elements are supplied by using a complete inorganic fertilizer or N.P.K. fertilizer, (the letters stand for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium). An N.P.K. ratio, indicating the proportion of each element, is usually printed on the label.

Choosing a fertilizer for a particular crop is made easier with the knowledge that nitrogen produces leaf growth, phosphorus encourages fruit and flowers as well as root growth, while potassium is necessary to strengthen plant tissues and harden growth against disease and cold. Application of fertilizers in balanced proportions is essential. Excess nitrogen can cause a potassium deficiency which can only be corrected by a corresponding increase in potash application.

Also, a lack of one element can affect the ability of plants to take up other elements. The effect involved in bringing a garden soil to peak condition is made worthwhile by the better crops of both flowers and vegetables that are produced. However, the addition of fertilizers and organic material is a task that must be carried out regularly, particularly in the vegetable garden.

My organic vegetable garden + some tips for growing your own food!

Home Orchards


Even small home gardens are able to accommodate a range of fruit trees.

Many are now available on dwarf rootstock which makes them easier to find room for and by growing fruits such as apples and pears as espaliers (a tree trained to grow flat, as against wall trellis etc) every inch of available space can be made use of.

Some fruit trees are very handsome and can be used to advantage in tree and shrub borders alongside the more usual ornamentals.

Pears and Plums are but two examples of fruit trees which make handsome specimens when grown in a lawn.

Citrus make excellent decorative tub plants.

Pruning All Kinds Of Stone Fruit Trees

After planting, three strong shoots are selected for the framework and all other are cut off.

The selected shoots are pruned to outside buds and all cuts are made at the same height from the ground.

The three shoots suitable for growing should have grown into between five and seven leaders by the second or third winter and this is sufficient.

Growths on the outside of these leaders are trained to form fruiting arms.

In NZ late February (end of summer) is an appropriate time to prune established stone fruit trees and all unwanted strong shoots should be removed.


The above image is the developmental sequence of a nectarine over a 7 1/2-month period, from bud formation in early winter to fruit ripening in midsummer.

© 2011 Elsie Hagley

Have you a tip for Vegetable Gardeners?

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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Growing up in the country I learned early the value of recycling and composting. Now I still compost our vegetable waste into our garden plot. It is so very important.

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      @espio007: Thanks for visiting and commenting about growing a fruit and vegetable garden.

      It is something, that can save your and lot of money in the fresh veg's line, you get a lot of satisfaction from serving meals that are freshly grown.

      Hope one day that you do get around to start growing your own vegetables.

      Happy days bringing in those fresh vegetable, straight from the garden.

    • espio007 profile image


      6 years ago

      I'd like to grow my own fruit and veg but I haven't gotten round to it yet.

    • takkhisa profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes we do it too! It is really great to grow vegetables and fruits. We just grow for our family, never sell anything but we share our fruits and vegetables with neighbors and relatives. Blessed! :)

    • neverasbad profile image


      6 years ago

      When I lived at a place with a yard, we started a compost for the garden we were going to start...the compost turned out well, but the garden never got started. One of these days.

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      @aesta1: Thanks for visiting and commenting. It's great if you can grow your own, freshly picked.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We grow vegetables in our garden in the Philippines but when we are in Canada or working in other countries, we can't really do it. I envy your growing all your vegetables.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      I long for my own vegetable garden. Unfortunately, I live in New England and the most practical area to plant around our house never gets full sun. The one sunny patch we have is home to our roses. But someday I hope to be able to carve out a bit of that space for a small veggie and herb garden, and I've bookmarked this extremely helpful and informative lens for the future. Blessed!

    • CampingmanNW profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent lens. I have had a yearly garden since I was a kid. The excitement of getting out in the early spring, to prepare the beds is the best part. (that is until harvest time) Thanks for great information...I always am open to learning something new. Thank you again for a great lens.

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 

      6 years ago

      Informative lens. Thanks for the tips about growing vegetables.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I finally have my new vege raised bed garden in place, have been composting for 12 months, have already enjoyed some fruits from my labours, now only got 14 fruit trees left to plant... big job, looking forward to big returns.

      Fantastic lens!

      Thank you so very much - Helene Malmsio (aka SCSS)

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      This is very interesting and informative lens on growing a vegetable and fruit garden. Very well done!

    • KiwiSanet profile image


      7 years ago

      Lots of valuable information about growing your own food. I especially liked the video clip under the heading âThe Easy Way to Grow Food in your Vegetable Gardenâ

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      8 years ago

      nice lens

    • vauldine profile image


      8 years ago

      When I used to be in my home country, Guyana South America, my parents were rice farmers and cultivated many other crops too. I tried my hand as a child at a few. I am not so good now since I am living in sofisticated United States of America. However, I love growing my own food. Love your lens! Great thougts of growing one's own makes me nostalgic.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      It is great to have your own garden. Something that city dwellers like me miss out on! We still manage to grow a few veggies but not enough of it! Thanks for sharing some wonderful inputs. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      May there by fruits and vegetables for everyone....and may we all be able to afford them.

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      @sidther lm: Thanks for visiting and commenting. Lucky rabbit, fresh carrots from your garden, maybe one day your garden will help to feed the world. Pumpkins keep well when harvest the right way.

    • sidther lm profile image

      sidther lm 

      8 years ago

      Great tips on growing vegetables! My first carrots started just a few days ago (for the pet rabbit) and the pumpkin is getting HUGE- I unfortunately have no tips as this is my first vegetable garden but thanks for sharing yours!

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      @jolou: Thanks for visiting and commenting, you are right about tastes, fresh is best.

    • jolou profile image


      8 years ago

      I think it's great that having your own garden and growing fruit and vegetables is becoming so popular again. Not only is it more economical, but nothing beats the taste.

    • Elsie Hagley profile imageAUTHOR

      Elsie Hagley 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      @Wedding Mom: Thanks for visiting and commenting, for sure a good soil in gardens has lot's or worms. May your garden be full of wonderful enjoyment for you and future generations.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 

      8 years ago

      I think your tips are great. I compost everything and I have some of the greatest soil in my gardens and some great worms too!


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