How To Set Up A Vegetable Garden

There’s always room for a vegetable patch in every garden. What you must decide is what space is available and what is to be grown.

Assuming you have an average size garden with a limit to the amount of vegetables you can produce, you have to establish a system of rotation. This is because you can’t satisfactorily cultivate the same vegetables on the same ground two years in succession. Plants vary in their demands from the soil and no soil can continually supply the particular nutrient that one specific plant requires.

Diseases, too, must be considered. Some plants are subject to a particular disease or pest which may badly infect the soil if that plant is grown there repeatedly.

There is a time-honoured system of rotation which wants a good deal of beating! As follows: divide your vegetable garden into three plots (the shape doesn’t matter provided you remember what was planted where, and when). Start with plot one. Dig in plenty of manure of well-rotted garden compost, chicken litter, hop or seaweed manure and grow any of the following: peas, beans, onions, lettuces, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, celery, leeks.

Plot two: dress with fertiliser (used according to the manufacturer’s instructions) and on it grow green crops, like cabbages, cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts.

Plot three: again a dressing of fertiliser, but restrict this site to root crops – carrots, swedes, beetroot, parsnips, potatoes, etc.

Then, in the following year, the first plot is used for growing cabbages and other green stuff. The second plot gets the root crops, and the third plot cultivates the peas, beans and company, outlined above!

In the third year the growing programme is shuffled round again – and in the fourth year it’s back to square one. All this is a basic approach to the business, of course; gardeners have their own ideas regarding the crops they want to cultivate and you must adjust the rules according to your inclinations and needs. But it’s worth remembering that if the rotation system is honoured the risk of trouble will be minimised.

Ground for spring sowing or planting of vegetables should be prepared in late autumn, ready for winter frosts to do their work in breaking up the surface. In spring the soil must be raked to a fine tilth, ready for seeds or plants. Heavy clay soil should be dug over in the autumn and then dressed with lime in the ratio of twelve ounces to the square yard.

The soil will benefit from a good mulch, too. Mulch can be decayed compost, manure, hop manure, peat -something which, spread on in a two-inch layer, will contain moisture and discourage weeds. One can, of course, water or apply liquid fertilisers through the mulch. Remember, though, to clear the ground of weeds before spreading mulch or they will grow up through it and you’ll be back where you started! Another point – avoid spreading mulch too early in the year; it’ll prevent the soil warming up, to the detriment of your plant growth. And when watering through mulch, allow just that much extra – between one and two gallons to the square yard should do the trick.

Next, don’t embark on your spring seed sowing until the soil is just right – that is, when it isn’t sodden, and you can walk on it without it sticking to your boots. Now, you’ll need fertiliser raked into the soil before you make your seed drills, and the depth of these will vary. A hoe, pulled at an angle, is best used for raking them out. Sow seed thinly. If you prefer, buy ‘pelleted’ seed. These are seeds which have been ‘coated’, thus making them much larger and therefore easier to handle. This means you can sow individual seeds at a sufficient distance apart, thus precluding the business of thinning out the seedlings. Carrots, leeks and onions are among the seeds which you can buy ‘pelleted’.

Seeds like cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and cabbages are sown in a seed bed and then planted out to their growing positions when they are big enough. It’s important to keep seed beds free from weeds, and to ensure seedlings don’t get overcrowded. Thin them when they’re an inch or so high.

When you do set out young plants, make sure they’re planted firmly. You can tell, in the case of savoys, sprouts, kale or any type of cabbage plant, by pulling at the top of a leaf; if it tears away it’s properly planted.

For plants which need staking, like peas and beans, use plastic mesh netting, supported on posts six feet apart, or to save space use the wigwam method. This means driving in six-foot poles, four feet apart, lashed together at the top. Stability can be ensured by attaching a length of twine to each pole and pegging them down about eighteen inches away.

Don’t stint the watering routine. That is, don’t wait until plants wilt! Now a word about storing your vegetables. Root vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips, beet and carrots, can be stored in boxes, or in a clamp packed in straw and protected by a layer of soil, in the open. But the golden rule is to keep stored vegetables frost free. If vegetables are destined for the deep freeze, pick them when they’re young and (after blanching, if necessary) store them straight away. Globe artichokes, broad, French and runner beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, peas, spinach and sweet corn are among those which lend themselves to deep freezing.

A word about space available: intercrop every bit of ground! Plant quick-ripening vegetables between rows of those which take their time to mature, and plant seeds to replace vegetables which are about ready to harvest. The space between two rows of peas can be used for lettuces and radishes. The space between sprouts, which are planted about three feet apart, can be used for winter greens, which you plant out in July.

DUAL-PURPOSE VEGETABLES

Two vegetables in one? It’s quite possible to grow the double-value types, illustrated below, without difficulty. Sow Calabrese outdoors in spring in a seed bed, then set out plants two feet apart in June. Celtuce is no trouble to grow. Sow it outdoors fortnightly throughout spring and summer to ensure a regular supply. Chives are a splendid dual-purpose vegetable both in the border and vegetable garden. For a good supply of kale start sowing in March and April, transplant from June to August. You can also sow direct in July.

Calabrese

Cut its heads as cauliflower. Side shoots then appear which are eaten as asparagus

Celtuce

Eat its leaves as lettuce, its stems as celery

Chives

These will give you a good showing of purple flowers in the border. Their leaves work wonders with salads and cream cheese.

Curly Kale

Its leaves are decorative in a border, and you can pull them off for a fresh green vegetable all winter long.

Modern varieties of dwarf beans are really worth carefulFebruary, six inches deep, fifteen inches apart—and stand back!

Consideration! They crop early and last longer. The Prince, for.Their stems grow to six feet. (They make a good screen.) Harvest example, is a super early variety which you can start under cloches,them in autumn and winter. Swiss Chard is more than just a dual-

Hamburg parsley wants some beating as a’two for the price of one’purpose vegetable—its gorgeous leaves can be used in flower vegetable. Jerusalem artichokes are easy to grow. Plant tubers inarranging!

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