If you’re new to gardening, knowing just how to get started can be a challenge. And if you have limited space you may be wondering if growing your own organic vegetables is even possible. But there are many ways to overcome the space problem, so read on.
First you need to make sure you have the main three factors under control. If you start organic gardening the right way you’ll be sure to get the best out of the materials you have at hand.
Start right – start now
Begin by analysing the growing conditions your plants will have. This is the first step and the most important if you want your garden to flourish. New gardeners often become discouraged when the plants they are carefully nurturing don’t produce the bountiful crops they were expecting.
So let’s look at the first and most important requirements for home gardening:
- Well drained growing medium such as soil, compost or potting mix
Sunshine (or at least strong daylight) is important if your plants are to be healthy and nutritious. Avoid areas that will fall into shade from walls or overhanging branches. The more sunlight you allow your plants the stronger and faster they will grow. Of course, in extremely hot climates, partial shade from light tree cover or netting can often be an advantage. Most fruits and vegetables need a minimum of around six hours of direct sunlight to achieve maximum production.
The ideal situation for garden beds is a flat plot of land in clear Sunshine Organics but unless you have lots of space you’ll need to find alternatives. Growing vegetables in containers can be just as rewarding, and with pots or other containers you have the advantage of being able to move your plants to where they will get the best light or shade as the seasons change.
Another option for those who have little or no flat space is to start a vertical garden. If you’ve seen walls, pergolas, balconies etc. dripping with gorgeous plants such as roses and jasmine it’s not hard to imagine the same situation where the flowers are replaced with edible plants such as squash, zucchini, passionfruit, or even cherry tomatoes.
Verandas and courtyards present ideal situations for the vertical gardener. Use your space wisely and you could soon have a small garden paradise of edible plants.
Soil is the one ingredient that most urban and many sub-urban gardeners are short of. So if you have little or no soil, or ground that is hard and unproductive, a raised garden bed might be the answer you’re looking for.
Raised beds allow you to build the type of soil you want in a confined space. They also have the advantage of saving you backbreaking work. Because your garden bed is raised above ground level you don’t need to bend half as far, and the other advantage is that you will need to do little or no digging.
Commercial versions of raised garden beds come in a wide variety and are priced accordingly. They range from small, plastic self-watering containers to pre-cut lengths of hardwood timber that you assemble yourself.
But you may find that you have suitable materials for building a raised garden bed available at home. Once you decide where to build your garden, it’s simply a matter of creating a rectangular space bordered with timber, bricks, rocks, or garden edging material.
Next step is to fill this space with old newspapers. Water them down to stop them flying away.
If you’re following the no dig method your next layer would be lucerne hay, topped with a layer of straw. Then plant your seedlings into a good shovelful of garden compost. Water in and wait for the magic to happen.
A slightly different method requires you to add garden compost right on top of the newspaper. Follow this with bags of mushroom compost and then add your layer of straw. Water the plot regularly for a few days to allow the mix to settle, then part the straw and plant into the ‘soil’.
You could start with an ambitious plot 8ft x 8ft, or if you’re the type who likes to experiment, a small 3ft x 3ft bed will teach you quite a lot about the best combinations of the three essentials – sunshine, position and drainage.