Why is the area a vegetable is planted important?
July 5, 2017
What is the key to growing with success in a vegetable garden? Winter in my vegetable garden this year is forcing me to review my documentation habits. After growing in the same garden beds for five years I need to make some modifications to my planting practices. My desire is always to grow more. This winter is teaching me that I need to refine and change my gardening approach and practice more of what I teach my customers.
As I work with more families, helping them to set up and grow a vegetable garden, I have much less time for my own garden. As a result I have started to reduce the size of our garden to a more manageable size better aligned to the time I have to invest. The garden bed below has had a compost heap added to the soil and then been covered in preparation for the bed being dismantled and removed and the soil used elsewhere. The garden beds on either side of this one are also now resting this winter.
In the meantime some of my other garden beds are progressing well and some are not. Why does this happen?
The garden area shown above has finally hit it’s stride, planted with celery, garlic a couple of broccoli and some parsley. Everything else I tried to grow in this area was eaten – cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach – all gone in a couple of days.
Sometimes the best strategy is to simply leave a garden area if nothing is working – or try growing those things in another area of the garden if you have the space.
This wall of peas shown above is growing beautifully, completely pest free. I planted peas in two other beds as well and they were destroyed by snails. When this happens I avoid replanting the same thing in that area for that season. I try another plant, or when it is half-way through a season, I leave the space empty.
The key items that need to be considered when adding vegetables to any garden area are:
Items listed from 3 down are very easy to forget once you move into a new season. If you are keen to produce great seasonal harvests that reduce your reliance on shopping for fresh ingredients it is important to have a way of recording this information to help you plan and achieve great results. Ideally it is a planner of some type. For me this has become a photo record but I am working on a new journal to record this information that I will share soon.
I have found in my garden that sometimes a plant will fail, eaten by pests or simply not grow well in one garden bed but the same variety of plant will thrive in another garden bed. Why does this happen when the garden beds are all oriented the same way for full sun, the soil is replenished regularly with compost and the plants are raised and planted at the same time?
If all physical factors are the same the only thing that can influence the plant growth and resistance to pests is what was planted, or what is planted now near by. Companion planting. This is something I am currently researching to gain a better understanding of why and how some plants grow better or worse when near each other.
If you there are pests you know frequent your garden such as possums, rats, the family dog (a friendly pest), snails, slugs or cabbage moth you need to have a strategy in place to prevent them causing damage. I have tried many organic pest control solutions for some of these, including companion planting, and have consistently found exclusion of the pest to always the most effective solution.
I have just introduced a product to customer garden set ups that I have been wanting to do for some time. It is an award winning product. I am excited to be testing one of it’s properties in my neglected winter garden. I am already confident this product is a superior mulch to any I have seen on the market to date. On this basis alone I am thrilled to be introducing my customers to it. In addition to this it is also said to be a natural repellent to snails and slugs so I am testing it in my garden to see how well it performs. I have added Major’s Mulch Straw Pellets to one garden bed where the plants have been under attack to see if the plants will be left to recover. I’ve also added some to a newly planted area (see below) to protect the new seedlings. It won’t take long to see the results so stay tuned. I will update the results on my Facebook page.
Another of the features of this mulch is that it is dust free. Applied as a pellet, it expands when watered to a gorgeous thick, fluffy coverage. I love this feature as it means I can ditch my mask which is hot in summer when working with mulch. Once applied you can easily move it around a little if you applied it too thickly (as I did first time around). It takes a little practice to get into the swing of spreading the pellets to achieve the correct coverage. I love this in comparison to the mulch I have used previously. It is soft and fluffy, not dry and scratchy. The fine particles will not take as long as regular straw to break down into the soil.
There may be one more item to add to the list above:
7. Be prepared to test new things and change your plans and approach – maybe a few times
Gardening is not a precise art and that is why I love it so much. There is always something to learn, each season is different and there are no guarantees. Sometimes things work and other times they do not. The best thing you can do is keep a record of your space and what works for you.
Are you keeping a record of how each area in your garden is growing each season?
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