10 steps to a productive vegetable garden

10 steps to a productive vegetable garden

It’s a simple pleasure walking over a manicured lawn, admiring the work of your landscape gardener of your hedged plants across to your vegetable patch ready for harvesting, one which thousands of Canberrans are missing out on.

Growing vegetables differs little from other types of gardening. However, it gives less room for mistakes. Success with vegetable cultivation is about being consistent – ensuring that the cultivation conditions are maintained throughout the season. If you let the plants dry out even for a short period, or forget about fertiliser, much of the harvest can be wasted. 

For help with a productive vegetable garden, follow these steps:

1. Choose varieties that adapt locally 
Not all vegetables thrive everywhere. Ask your local nursery or garden store what varieties are best suited to your region. There may be resistant varieties that can tolerate diseases that may be present in your area or which provide better harvest in your climate.

2. Plant at the right time 
Normally it is on the seed packet when the right is time to plant them. In some regions, the cultivation periods are very short and you have to use them with great precision to get an abundant harvest. In other places you can plant several times during the summer and get a longer harvest period. The best thing is to ask for advice in a local nursery.

3. Prepare the soil properly before sowing 
Use plenty of compost or fertiliser. If you do not use fertiliser that already contains nitrogen, then use a fertiliser that does.

4. Sow right 
Sow the seeds at the right depth and distance and follow the instructions on the seed packet. Vegetables that are sown too tightly yield an inferior harvest. If you plant cuttings, make sure you do not put them too deeply to rot. Dig a hole just deep enough so that the roots are covered.

5. Water properly 
Keep the soil evenly moist so that the plants do not dry out, but do not water too much. Water in depth and then let the soil dry partially before watering again. Irregular watering will reduce the yield of most vegetables and get a portion – eg. cucumber and lettuce – to taste bitter. You get the best result by installing an irrigation system connected to a timer.

6. Fertilise regularly 
Maintaining powerful growth is important for almost all kinds of vegetables. Most should get fertilisers that contain nitrogen at least every four to six weeks. However, you should be careful not to over-fertilise, which may cause some vegetables, especially tomatoes, to produce less.

7. Compost 
A layer of 5-8 cm of organic matter over the roots of your vegetable plants reduces the risk of weeds and helps prevent changes in soil moisture, which deteriorates the quality.

8. Clear the weeds 
Weeds compete with the vegetables for the water, nutrition and sunlight, thus reducing the yield. Pick up the weeds by hand and often process the soil to reduce weeds as much as possible.

9. Harvest often 
Many kinds of vegetables, especially beans, squash, peppers and cucumbers, stop producing if you don’t harvest often. Pick every two to three days. If you can’t eat everything you pick then share with friends and neighbours.

10. Keep track of insect pests 
Many kinds of insects like fresh vegetables as much as you do. Beware of damage caused by insects and protect your plants with insecticides intended for the treatment of vegetables.