It’s finally here, Spring has finally come to my part of the world!
It’s the time of the year when I go a little crazy. I start collecting toilet rolls, and turning my windowsill into a green house, and getting all emotional about how lovely the dirt smells when it’s been turned… ye, it’s gardening time!
Many people ask me how I find time to garden and how I manage to grow so many veggies. I suspect people think I have a green thumb and spend hours and hours in the garden, but actually I am a pretty crap gardener and while I love spending time out in the garden, I’m bust like everyone else so I don’t have hours and hours to while away pulling weeds. But here’s a secret… gardening doesn’t have to be hard, or take loads of time, you can keep it simple and still have lots of success!
Simple Tips for a Successful Veggie Garden
Spend some time thinking about, dreaming of, and planning what you will grow, and where and how you will grow it.
- Know your growing zone, and your particular micro-climate. Most people in our growing zone suggest to plan tomatoes in October, but I know that because we are out in the open on a rural property we still have a big risk of frosts and cold nights right up till November.
- Only grow veggies that your family eats. No point in having a bumper crop of egg plants if no one likes them!
- Find out what grows well in your area and plant that. Ask a neighbor or at the local nursery, they’ll know the one or two things that they can grow with their eyes shut, for us it is zucchinis, spinach and rhubarb
- Know when to plant, but don’t stress too much about perfect timing. It really won’t matter if you plant your tomatoes 2 months late – sure you might get less tomatoes in total but you’ll still get some!
- Decide if you want to start plants from seed, or buy seedlings. Starting from seed is cheaper and magical and works great for lots of things, but sometimes seeds can be tricky to get going and sometimes you can get a head start by planting bigger seedlings.
- Any plant that you can plant the seed directly into the garden bed is a good one to start with – things like zucchini, pumpkin, squash, corn, sunflowers, cucumber, spinach, melons
- Any plant that requires you to plant seeds in punnets first might be a good option to buy as seedlings – things like tomatoes, some herbs, capsicum.
Planting is one of the best parts of gardening and you can get the kids involved too.
- You can plant seeds inside on a sunny windowsill to get a head start on the season – this is especially useful if you live somewhere with late cold weather, or a short, cooler summer.
- Planting seeds into biodegradable pots makes getting the seedlings into the ground a lot easier as you plant them pot and all. You can make your own by folding newspaper origami style or by using cardboard tubes just snip a few tabs into the bottom and fold them in to form a base.
- You can also use lots of other recycled containers – just make a few hols in the bottom of plastic containers for good drainage.
- Plant seeds into good dirt – buying a bag of seed raising mix is probably the easiest way to go.
- If you can prepare your garden beds a few weeks before you plant by adding compost, manure, and other organic matter, and water it once a week (if it’s not raining) so it has a chance to start breaking down before you plant.
- As a general rule go for a position with as much sun as possible unless the plant information says shade. Most veggies need lots of sun to grow and produce, but don’t stress if the spot gets a bit of shade for a few hours a day.
- You can usually plant things much closer together than it says on the packet, especially if you are planting in full sun. This will mean you can fit more in a smaller space, save on water and have less bare dirt to grow weeds into.
- You can plant almost any vegetable in a pot and have it do well, so if you don’t have a garden or only have limited space, pick a few things you love to eat and whack them in pots!
- Don’t forget to plant some flowers as well. You need the flowers to bring the bees and other insects to pollinate your veggies, plus they make you happy.
Once they are in the ground you just need to spend a little time making sure they get enough food and water and watching them grow.
- Do not forget to water your plants…. just don’t.
- Buying a bottle of stinky seaweed solution is an easy way to fertilise all veggie plants, just mix it with water and pour it on, no need to stress about exact dosage etc.
- Mulch around your plants with whatever you have available, it will help keep the weeds out and the water in, but a few weeds here and there won’t hurt so don’t stress!
- If you run into a problem, or some pest is attacking your plants, google it!
- You can spend hours reading and researching and learning about the best way to grow this or that, but you’ll learn the most by just having a go, so don’t be overwhelmed by all the technical stuff.
- Keep a record of what you grew where and how it went. I know this sound geeky but I can’t tell you how helpful it is to be able to read what you planted, where you planted it, and how it did, when you come to making plans for next spring, because I can never remember that stuff!
Free Printable Garden Record
If you’d like to take a peek at my less than perfect veggie garden, you can find all my gardening posts here, and I might even take a video of the garden this year!
If your kids love playing outside and gardening, you might like to give these ten easy veggies to grow with kids a go!
And if you are looking for more simple tips to make life easier check out my ‘Keep it Simple’ series where I share the best simple tips for everything from laundry, cleaning, meals, kids and even parenting.