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Our beginners guide to vegetable gardening

Nothing completes a home cooked meal like the satisfaction of growing some of your own ingredients, and you don’t need to be a seasoned gardener to do it.

Whether you want to grow heaps of veges or just a few herbs, here’s a few tips on how to get your garden kitchen set up.

Types of vege garden

Raised gardens

A raised bed is simply soil mounded up higher than ground level or in a container with a border of untreated timber. When your soil bed is elevated above the surrounding terrain, you control its health and drainage. This helps you create and maintain optimal conditions for your crops.

Containers and hanging baskets

Planter boxes, half wine barrels, pots and hanging baskets are all suitable for growing fresh produce. The size of your basket or container will impact what you can plant inside.

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Where to place your vege garden

Outside

Veges and herbs like a nice balance of shelter, a bit of shade and a decent amount of sun so try to find a spot where they’ll get at least 5 hours of sun a day. It’s a good idea to find a spot that’s easy for you to access for watering and harvesting.

Inside

For herbs and smaller veges like spring onions you can place a few containers or pots on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen. This will keep them close by and easy to care for, plus they’ll be close by when you’re cooking.

Which herbs and veges to start with

Vegetables

For first time gardeners, it is generally easier to grow from seedlings, rather than seeds. As a rule of thumb spinach, lettuce, radish, rocket, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, silverbeet, celery and spring onions are all good ‘beginner’ crops.

Herbs

Herbs require a little bit less maintenance, but it’s still easiest to start with seedlings. Parsley, coriander, mint, oregano, thyme and rosemary are the best ‘beginner’ crops for the herb garden.

Check out our Vegetable Planting Calendar for advice on what to plant now.

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Rules of thumb for planting

The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting. Make sure you don’t plant seedlings too close together as they can compete for nutrients and stunt each other’s growth. 5-10cm is usually enough for herbs, but leave 15-20cm for larger, bushier vege varieties.

To get the best results

Prepare your bed with sheep pellets and compost. The better the soil, the more successful your garden will be. From the time of planting, it is a good idea to fertilise your plants every four weeks to get the most out of them. A well watered, well nourished vegetable garden will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. Apply a slug & snail control every few weeks. Keep your garden weed free.

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When to harvest

Your veges are ready to harvest when they are about the size you see them in the supermarket. Leafy crops like spinach can be harvested a leaf at a time, so you can pick as you need.