If you are planning to grow some of our own vegetables this year the next 60 days are key to your success – If you wait until spring you will simply be to late
8 keys to a great year in your vegetable garden
Planning your vegetable – this is key to get the most out of your vegetable area. Pre internet the seed companies released and sent out paper based seed catalogues just before xmas. These days its easier with all the seed companies been online.
Start by picking all the seeds you fancy growing and note down the sowing dates.
Remember to include some companion flowers too they will help in the reduction of pest attacks such as green fly. The classic companion flower is calendula or pot marigold
Also remember to add come catch crops these are fast growing salad crops for example if you are sowing so root crops such as beet or carrot it also next to them to sow some lettuce seed leaves which will grow quickly and use the space taken by the root crop later in the season being a much slower growing crop.
To dig or not to dig – if you have not done so so far digging especially on a new vegetable area is a great way to start. The winter weather such as frost and rain helps to break down the dug soil and makes a great tilth for sowing seeds later in the year. On an established vegetable area its not so important and can even do some harm by de-structuring the soil. Simply adding a layer of organic mater such as garden compost or spent mushroom compost making sure you have enough lob worms in the soil and they will do the work for you, breaking down the organic matter into humist and incorporating it into the soil.
Worms and organic matter – the GardenAdvice team are always banging on about worms and organic mater but its always to key for a productive soil. The two items go hand in hand as a natural cycle the worms turning the organic matter into humists, mixing it with the different elements of the soil and in doing so creating drainage channels and allowing air into the soil.
Frosts and snow – not under your control and sometimes weather can be a real pain but frosts and snow help to break soil down into a tilth or a fine soil ready for sowing seeds.
Early sowings – sowing early will be produce better stronger crops. In the case of peas these can be sown in January in a frost free soil and covered with a plastic or glass cloche which in effect will advance the season by 3 to 4 weeks.
Micro climates – simply means creating a mini climate area in and around your vegetable garden. This can be achieved by many means such as adding a covering of black plastic to areas of soil to help them heat up by collecting more of the suns rays or by installing a wind break to slow down the wind to stop the temperature loss caused by wind speed to the air and soil. A Wind break could be a hedge or some plastic netting.
Composting – remember to wrap up your compost heap with and old carpet or similar to help the bacteria build up the heat to help them get to work and break down the matter in your compost heap. The bacteria in your compost will work in the winter cold but they will be a lot faster in warm conditions making compost quicker enabling you to get it back into the soil quickly feeding your new crop of vegetables.
Water – it will soon be summer and you will need to water so set up some water butts etc now and start collecting some water. Its likely you will still need to use the water from a tap or another source but having your own source of water will save you time and money.