There are few things more satisfying than enjoying a plateful of your very own homegrown vegetables.
Vegetable patches have become increasingly popular over the last decade with more people wanting to be more self-sufficient.
There is simply no comparison to the taste of a fresh potato or runner bean that you picked the same day; it is a wonderful reward for your hard work.
That said, starting a vegetable patch can feel overwhelming for some, but it’s actually a lot easier than you imagine.
So if you are struggling to know where to begin, we’ve put together the best ideas for starting a vegetable patch.
Why start a vegetable patch?
Starting a vegetable patch may seem daunting at first, but there are so many great reasons why you should stop procrastinating and go for it! So here’s a handful of them to get you feeling inspired!
Improve your health
Eating your own fresh, clean, homegrown produce has enormous health benefits. Eating freshly picked veg means that the vitamin content will be at its absolute highest. It also means you will be less likely to consume harmful chemicals.
Vegetable patches or money-savers, you can grow and enjoy organic veggies for a fraction of the price. Ka-ching!
Caring for a vegetable patch will keep you physically active. You will be digging, planting and pulling weeds, and you can bet that you will burn through those calories. Gardening also provides good mental exercise as it requires thought and strategy. It really is an all-round healthy pastime!
It relieves stress
All that fresh air and vitamin D from the lovely sunshine is proven to improve one’s mood. Also, growing your own food will reward you with an enormous sense of achievement.
It’s great for kids
Getting the kids involved with your veggie patch is an excellent way to bond but also educates them on where their food comes from. Children who help out growing vegetables are also more likely to enjoy eating them.
Now that you have decided that you are ready to take on the challenge of starting your very own vegetable patch, then it’s time to start planning.
Organisation is one of the critical aspects of growing a happy and healthy vegetable patch. A disorganised patch can lead to a whole bunch of problems, and you really want to give yourself the best possible chance right from the start.
1. Choose the right spot
Most veggies need the sun to thrive, although some do well in dappled shade. Try to find a sunny spot where the ground is level and an area that is well protected from strong winds.
Make sure you do not choose a space that’s under a tree as your crops will not grow if they are in full shade.
You may also want to try to choose a location close to a tap or water butt so you can avoid traipsing back and forth with your watering can.
2. Decide what you want to grow
When it comes to choosing what to grow in your first vegetable patch, we recommend that you start small.
For beginners, consider growing veg like potatoes, runner beans, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes and similar. Choose plants that are both easy and rewarding.
You should also consider how many people are going to be eating your crops. You don’t want to grow too much and end up letting it go to waste.
It’s also a great idea to draw up a growing calendar, so you know when and what to plant.
3. Start designing
Make sure you sit down and draw out a plan of how you want your veggie patch to look. Ideally, you want to make sure you get the most out of the space, but that said you must avoid overcrowding.
Make sure you consider the size of the veg you are hoping to plant and allow space for that too.
Once you’ve designed your dream vegetable patch, it is time to start prepping the area so you can get planting as well as getting everything you will need to maintain it once it has established.
4. Must have tools
There are few items that you will absolutely need when it comes to caring for your vegetable patch, and they are as follows:
- Pruning shears
- Hose or watering can
- Kneeling pad
- Stakes to support climbing plants
5. Prepare the soil
Give your patch a thorough digging over, as this will help to break up the soil. We recommend digging down to a minimum of one spade depth, but if you can go deeper then do! Make sure you are continuously weeding throughout this process.
We highly recommend that you also dig in some compost to help you achieve the highest quality of soil. Manure is also extremely beneficial to your vegetable patch, just ensure it’s already rotted; otherwise, it will be too overbearing for the plants. If you have shallow soil, then adding compost and manure on top will help provide the depth needed to grow your veggies.
Now that your soil is ready, it is finally time to start planting. Obviously, all plant’s needs vary, but we’ve put together a little guide to help you on your way.
6. Arranging your plants
Plants despise overcrowding, and they will not thrive if they are all bunched up close together. Instead of growing your plants in rows or squares, we recommend that you instead opt for triangles so that you stagger the plants. This will help prevent the plants from being too close together, but it is also much more efficient as you will be able to plant up to 15% more plants in each bed.
7. Choose climbing plants to save space
If you have a more modest-sized garden, you can utilise your space by growing vertically. Runner beans, peas, squash and melons are all great vertical growers. Use stakes, fences and trellises to support them, and you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest.
8. Consider companion planting
Some veggies grow particularly well when planted together, and choosing compatible crops will also help you make better use of your space. The strong stems of corn will help support runner bean, while squash will grow at ground level helping to prevent the growth of weeds.
9. Make use of pots and containers
If you are restricted by the size of your garden, using pots and containers will give you greater flexibility without taking up too much room. If you are really struggling when it comes to space, then you could grow some of your veggies inside to help boost your harvest and allow for more variety in what you grow.
10. Time your crops
By applying succession planting, you can then grow more than one crop throughout the growing season. If applied successfully, you will be able to harvest up to four crops from one single spot.
By choosing plants that mature quickly, you can really get the most out of your harvest and will end up with a much more rounded variety of veggies.
Caring for your vegetable patch
Once your vegetable patch is established, you must take good care of it to help it thrive. The more love you give, the more vegetables you will get in return, so it’s essential to be attentive and diligent in caring for your crops.
11. Pesky pests
Sadly, it is pretty much impossible to avoid pests in a vegetable patch. That said, we don’t advise you to douse your plot with pesticides and chemicals. We recommend that you avoid potent pesticides and only apply it in the morning when bees and butterflies and other beneficial pollinators aren’t as active.
Take care not to over-fertilise your vegetable patch. We recommend opting for a good organic fertiliser and use appropriately according to the instructions.
Dream vegetable patch
There you have it – all the information you need to design, grow and care for the vegetable patch of your dreams.
Food really does taste better when you grow it yourself, and it’s a great way to improve the diet of you and your family.
Remember to take your time and plan carefully, and your hard work will be rewarded with a hearty harvest of yummy veggies!