You’ve planted your vegetable garden and its started to grow. Congratulations! You are now one step closer to truly delicious garden grown-food!
Now all you need to do is show your plants a little care and your garden will be every bit as successful as you had hoped. Here are a few tips for an abundant garden with plenty to pick.
Feed your soil. It’s not the plants you feed, it's the soil. Soil that is in good condition promotes healthier, stronger growth and plants with fewer problems. Feed garden soil with organic materials such as compost or well-rotted manure.
Lay down mulch. While plants are actively growing you can lay organic materials around them as mulch. Wait until the soil has warmed up then lay mulch at least 2 inches thick. As well as feeding the soil, mulches reduce weed growth, slow the loss of soil moisture through evaporation and keep roots cooler in hot weather.
Remove weeds. Weeds compete with vegetables for space, water and nutrients. Keep on top of weeds and try to pull them out as soon as they appear. Weeding is especially important when vegetables are still young. Weeding little and often is the best way.
Protect from heat. Extreme heat quickly wilts thirsty plants. As well as watering to keep plants quenched, consider setting up shade cloth in summer, particularly for cool-season veggies like lettuce.
Maintain hygiene. Remove dead plants and diseased growth from your garden to keep your remaining vegetables safe. In most cases only the diseased part of the plant need be removed. Disinfect pruners after cutting any diseased growth – you don’t want to inadvertently spread disease.
Support climbers. Climbing or sprawling vegetables such as beans and cucumbers need appropriate supports. Think tepees, trellising and A-frames. Taller or top-heavy veggies such as eggplant perform better when they are tied to a sturdy stake, or use tomato cages for a simple solution.
Harvest regularly. Pick, pluck or pull your tasty vegetables as soon as they are ripe and ready. Some plants need frequent picking to encourage more to follow. At the peak of the season beans, tomatoes and zucchini will need picking almost daily to keep them in their productive phase of growth, but who minds harvesting their own wholesome food every day?