Time to start your veggie patch

Phyl Boyce


Phyl Boyce

Time to start your veggie patch

Vegetable gardens have become very popular because many people like the idea of being able to grow their own fresh vegetables in their garden. Some vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb and fruit trees can take a few years to mature enough to yield fruit, but most people believe it is well worth the wait. There are few things more rewarding than biting into fresh, ripe fruits or vegetables that come out of your garden.

As a new year resolution, set aside a small piece of your garden and devote it to the growing of first class vegetables. This activity is something the entire family can enjoy and vegetable gardening is an excellent stress relieving activity and perfect for individuals of all ages. Vegetable gardening allows individuals to spend time outdoors and enjoy the wonders of nature.

If you have children, consider growing a family vegetable garden. Growing your own food is an excellent way to teach children the importance of healthy eating. It is a proven fact that children who learn healthy eating habits when they are young will continue with these habits throughout their lives. One of the major problems with childhood obesity is that children do not know what foods should be consumed daily, and what foods should be saved for special occasions. A family garden will provide an activity that everyone can participate in and enjoy. Teach your children all about the sowing, caring and harvesting of vegetables.

Once you have picked a spot for the vegetable garden give it a good digging when the soil has dried out. Do this now so that the soil is exposed to wind, rain and frost which helps to break the soil down. Digging in lots of organic material such as home made compost will improve the quality of the soil and provide nutrients for the plants. Most vegetables thrive in soil with a pH between 6 and 7, which is slightly acid or neutral. Very acid soils may need the addition of garden lime to raise the pH and it will make heavy clay soils easier to work with and improve drainage.

If you want organic grown vegetables, you can produce satisfactory results with home made compost or well rotted farmyard manure. If you are starting with a new garden where the soil is poor, shallow or heavy clay and wet, making a raised bed will improve drainage and give better yields. In new gardens, where the soil is poor with a mixture of topsoil and subsoil, it may take a few years to get the right conditions to grow vegetables, once you get the conditions right growing vegetables will become very easy. In gardens with heavy clay soil it is a good practice to roughly dig the soil in late autumn or early spring, this will expose the soil to frost and hungry birds. The frost will break apart the heavy clods of soil that occur in heavy soils.

If you do not have a piece of ground, you can grow many vegetables in pots or containers. Purchase large pots to place on deck or patio. Make sure the pots have adequate drainage holes and place them in an area with good sunlight. Fill the pots with top soil or potting compost. In the next few articles there will be a section on the sowing and caring of vegetable seeds.

Jobs for the week

It is worth sprouting some early varieties of potatoes like Sharpe’s Express or British Queens. Sprouting is done by standing the potato tubers one deep in a tray or shallow box and place them in a warm place with good light.

High winds at this time of the year can rock plants and loosen or break some roots. Many plants are prone to wind, in particular tall roses and newly planted trees and shrubs that have not yet rooted into the surrounding ground.

Excess water can enter the roots and in frosty weather can kill the roots. Check tree stakes and ties regularly to make sure they are holding the trees and shrubs firmly without cutting into the bark. Firm the soil around the stem of the tree. Remove weeds from herbaceous borders and flower beds. Spread a layer of compost over the borders and allow the worms to work the compost into the soil.

Garden Club Notices

Limerick Flower & Garden Club next meeting takes place on Tuesday 1February 14 at 8pm in the Greenhills Hotel. Demonstrator for the night is Theresa Collins.