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Vegetable Growing Tips

Tips for growing vegetables

Not everything is perfect in my vegetable garden.  A reader’s letter prompted me to write my top three tips for growing vegetables.   My photos (on either Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest) usually show the beautiful produce that I have grown, not the failures.

The letter asked me for some advice or insight into why her veggies were not progressing as well as she hoped. It got me thinking about my garden and the things I have learned since I started growing vegetables at home.

This is what I have learned :

1. Not everything works

– but don’t let that stop you trying again, and again and again. Take notes you may recognise a pattern. Try numerous ways of achieving results. 

Many crops are never realised and dreams of new creations with the anticipated harvest bubbling away on the stove just don’t happen.  As you keep trying you will hopefully find that your successes outweigh the failures.

Spinach is a perfect example of a plant not working as expected in my vegetable garden. I had a very healthy plant that produced heavily, non stop for more than a year and a half. I could not keep up with it. We ate ALOT of spinach! If you check my Recipe List page you will find many recipes that are spinach-based.

My original spinach plant became so large that I ended up pulling it out, I have to admit that I got a little sick of the sight of it. 

I have since planted five or six new plants and they will not grow for me! This is what I have done so far in an attempt to replicate the lush bushy plant I pulled out:

  • Placed crushed egg shells around the plants to keep the snails off
  • Placed a milk container over a couple to keep them a little more protected in the cold evenings
  • Put fake snakes near them to keep the birds away
  • I have fertilised them
  • I have trimmed them
  • Sworn at them
  • Planted more plants in some pots near the house
  • Planted various brands

Take a look at them in the image below! No spinach is coming from this garden any time soon! I am not sure what else to try…..Any ideas are welcome


As with the spinach, the growth of plants can vary greatly from year to year. At the end of May last year I had picked all of the Feijoa from my tree and made Feijoa Jam. This year the fruit has still not matured and is mostly on the ground. A sight that makes me so very sad! I don’t think that there will be enough fruit left on the tree to mature for any jam this year.

Feijoa Lost

My artichoke is confused by the warm days we are having and it has started to flower, although generally this occurs in January. A bonus maybe? I am not sure what it will mean for the regular cycle of growth. I will wait and see….

Artichoke out of season

2. Research, monitor and respond accordingly

– Attempt to correct issues as they arise and determine if you can avoid them occurring in the future.

I learn as I go along with new plants and monitor them closely to see how they respond to care, weather and make a note for next time they are planted if I decide to continue growing them.

Pumpkin is an example of this. I grew them from seed for the first time last year and they were a great success. I over-watered them at the end of the season and they split. I will not repeat that error this year.

3. Experimenting can produce great results

– Take a chance and just see what happens. It is fun to not follow the rules sometimes.

I had a new pumpkin plant sprout when the others died off and were harvested. As I had the space available, I left the plant in to see what would happen. It is currently setting fruit. Fingers crossed I will have a new pumpkin crop in the coming months just as I plant my next lot of plants around October.

Pumpkin experiment

A single, sweet flavored bulb of home grown garlic, or a white beetroot with rings of yellow or orange that delight and surprise my children motivate me to plant more seeds and see how the next batch will grow and taste. What about you?

What is your top tip for growing vegetables? I would love to hear it. Do you keep trying to grow a plant after an initial failure, or low harvest?



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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Erin @ she cooks, she gardens July 3, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Hey Kyrstie, great post and I think your advice is spot on.

    I’ve never had great success with tomatoes, they try my patience and make me question my abilities as a gardener. This past summer I was willing to try ANYTHING to get those little suckers to do what I wanted them to and in the end, while I had a decent yield of tomatoes, it was not consistent with the time, effort and number of plants I put in.

    Sorry to hear about your spinach though, my only advice would be to move them, I have mine growing in a bed with beets, carrots and herbs. They get a bit of shade from the beet leaves and it seems to make a real difference.

  • Melissa July 3, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Great post Kyrstie 😉

    I love that you are so wiling to experiment! I am always equally surprised with bits that seem to sprout from nowhere, as I am “gutted” when plants just seem to wither and die.

    I think gardeners have to be optimists. Willing to learn and keep try, try, trying again!

    At the very least, my vegetable patch has taught me how to appreciate a perfectly ripe tomato. I also find I waste less of my shop bought produce, recognising just how much effort and serendipity is actually required to produce a carrot!

    I am trying your slow cooker chicken tomorrow….mmnnnnn

  • Grant Nowell July 3, 2013, 3:52 pm

    I enjoyed reading you post Kyrstie, I think you made many good points. I have always concentrated on things that grow well in my part of the world and in our backyard micro climate. I have great success with many herbs they just love their spots i plant them in, withe the hot summer sun they just love more shade then hot light. I use herbs every day in my cooking so it’s a mega win-win!
    I take notes, check PH levels and generally just look around at the good bugs and bad bug ratio and you can learn so muc by just looking at the plants health and vigour.

  • gillian vance July 4, 2013, 10:41 am

    I live in the tropics and have decided that fighting the bugs and humidity is really not worth it. I have decided I will just grow a few fruit trees and then plant masses of lettuces and bok choy around them. I plant them very thickly and the bugs seem to realize there is plenty to share and don’t decimate them all! I harvest them leaf by leaf. Learning to love what grows here has helped – chokos, pawpaws, passionfruit and ginger are my staples.

  • e / dig in hobart July 10, 2013, 8:36 am

    i love your first tip or pearl of wisdom: not everythign works. true! i’m all for trying new things but – rather liek in the kitchen – you get to know what works and what doesn’t. i haven;t had much luck with things that grow beneath the ground (liek carrots and beetroot) mainly because my soil is shallow and rocky where i have reclaimed garden beds from the lawn area. so i have given up on them – for now! i have some plans…

    • Kyrstie July 11, 2013, 8:17 pm

      Ha ha I look forward to reading about your plans as they eventuate. I have also had problems growing carrots in the ground. I put them in pots now and that is much more successful.

  • Nic@diningwithastud July 18, 2013, 3:31 pm

    That’s such good advice! I definitely get disheartened and don’t try again. I must keep at it. I cant wait to get a house with a backyard so I can get my gardener on 🙂

  • garden shop nursery July 27, 2013, 8:32 pm

    Vegetable gardening can be tricky but such tips can be very much helpful if followed properly! Good tips shared! This post is a good piece of information! Loved it!

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