How To Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Part Three

We look at what’s growing well, and what’s not and why. Early spring is no time to rest on our laurels! It’s time to plant some seeds every month for a trickle of veg.

What’s growing well?

Parsley and very small basil plants need extra water as they are wilting quickly. The parsley roots were damaged during planting and the basil is just too small. Make a saucer shaped depression around each plant to direct the water into the roots.
Pick tomato flowers off, as it is too soon to allow the fruit to develop, so wait until they are at least 1m high. Don’t feed them until flowering.
Salad greens are growing well but they need to be fertilised for maximum flavour. Leafy greens have been in three weeks so give them a liquid feed such as Seafeed 3 in 1.
Dwarf Butterbeans are slightly affected from the cold, but they’ll be okay.
Snowpeas need a structure to climb up.

What needs to be done?

The climbing vegetables need structures or frameworks to grow up. Use bamboo canes to build them. Tie bamboo together with gardeners twine or flax leaves!
Tepee for the snowpeas - Tie them up each bamboo pole. Make the tepee at least 1.5 – 2 m high.
Bamboo tunnel with cucumbers growing up one side and ‘Rattlesnake’ beans growing up the other - Tie the cucumber up at first, but the beans will spiral up themselves. Make the structure at least 2m high.
Tomato trellis - Make the trellis at least 2 m high when growing climbing vine tomatoes.

Sowing for trickle harvest

The aim of an everyday kitchen garden is to sow small amounts of seed often as this prolongs the harvest. With big fruiting vegetables, sow 2 or 3 times through the beginning of the season as they take time to mature. With salad greens and root crops, sow every month for a trickle harvest... not too much and not too little. It may take a while to get the exact number of seeds for each vegetable right for your family, but it’s always a trial by error process.

Sowing for continual harvest

Crops you can plant every week or every month of the year, for continual harvest.
Carrot, Beetroot, Spring Onion, Leek, Spinach/Silverbeet, Radish, Rocket, Celery, Chives, Lettuce, Wong Bok, Pak Choi, Mini Cannonball Cabbage and Savoy Cabbage.

How to sow seeds?
Growing from seed means you can choose from a wonderful range of old heirloom varieties that are not available by seedling.
Early spring is the time to sow seeds for summer crops. There are two ways to raise vegetables from seed: sow them directly into the soil in which they are to grow; or raise them under cover in the house or greenhouse. Sowing direct is the easiest and least time-consuming.

Which seeds can you sow now?

Beetroot - ‘Burpee’s Golden’ and ‘Bulls Blood’
Carrot - Heirloom Mix which contains a mix of different coloured carrots such as red, orange, white and purple.
Beans (dwarf, runner and climbing), Lettuce, Corn, Squash, Pumpkin & Cucumber and Sunflowers!

Tip: Use the seed label inside an upturned glass jar to remember what variety was planted.

Step 1 - Get the timing right and wait until the threat of frost has passed. Germination will be more successful if spring has well and truly sprung. Weeds germinating in your garden are a useful clue!

Step 2 - Till the soil and work in some compost or soil conditioner. Break up clods of soil with the back of the rake as seeds will fail to germinate through lumpy soil; fine soil will pave the way to straight and strong seedlings.

Step 3 - Decide where the lines of seeds are going to grow then mark them with a piece of bamboo laid on the soil. Drag your finger along the line and make a drill 1cm deep.

Step 4 - Water the soil before sowing. This speeds up germination and means watering afterwards and risk dislodging the seeds is not necessary.

Step 5 - Sow seed at a depth related to size: tiny seeds should be just under the surface of the soil but larger seeds can be pushed down to your first knuckle. Sow as thinly as possible. Large seeds, such as cucumbers and beans, are easy to place individually, but fine seeds should be broadcast quickly and finely into a line.

Step 6 - Replace the displaced soil and firm it down along the line as this removes air pockets and speeds up germination. Don’t water again.

Step 7 - Seedlings will start to appear after one – two weeks. If rain doesn’t fall, water twice a week until germination. Once the seed has germinated, thin the weaker seedlings out. Removing half of the seedlings feels is essential to give the remaining seedlings access to the space and nutrients they need.

Step 8 - Remove any weeds that germinate, as these will compete with the seedlings for light, water and nutrients. Be vigilant. Check your seeds every morning for health and vigour and water if necessary. Mulch the seedlings when they get to about 10cm high. Water with a diluted solution of seaweed.

SUPPLIERS - (fertiliser, Osmocote garden soil) - (vegetable garden labels, beans)

For more:

Read How To Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Part One
Read How To Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Part Two
Read How To Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Part Four
Read How To Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Part Five

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