There is nothing quite like the taste of home grown vegetables straight from the garden to your table. Not only does growing your own vegetables save you money, but you can also be sure that the vegies you eat are free of nasty sprays and chemicals.
Harrisons ican Harvest Vegetable Growing Guide will help ensure a healthy, productive, continuous harvest of seasonal vegetables throughout the year even from a small space.
Key Points for Success
- Choose a warm and sunny site with free draining soil
- Add compost
- Use only quality seeds or plants
- Water during dry periods
- Plan for a continual crop
Selecting the Site
Vegies will grow best in a warm sunny position. They do not produce very well in the shade or where they have to compete for light and moisture. Shelter from strong winds is also a benefit.
Create a vegetable garden that is sufficient to provide you and your family enough vegies each season.
In smaller spaces, raised beds and container gardening provide useful alternatives to the large garden plots our grandparents once tended. Another space saving technique is to introduce vegetables into the ornamental garden, potager style. This combines edges of sweet corn, or climbing beans on a fence, blocks of lettuce, carrots, onions, cabbages, and leeks for contrasting foliage. Try novelty vegetables such as multicoloured silver beet, yellow tomatoes, yellow and red peppers
Vegetables require a free draining soil rich in organic matter (compost).
If your soil is clay based, the vegie plot should be raised or built up some 15cm above the surrounding soil to ensure good drainage.
If you are short on time and only need a small number of vegie plants, buying a pack of vegie seedlings may be more convenient that raising seeds.
Good seedlings should have 6-8 true leaves and be 5-8 cm high.
Hybrids will cost a little more, but are worth it.
At the beginning of spring apply a dressing of lime. Work this into the soil and leave for a week, then add Tui General or iCan 100% Organic Vegetable Food and work this into the soil.
When transplanting it is a good idea to water in with iCan Fast Food or iCan Real Blood and Bone to ensure a good start.
Regular feeding with iCan Fast Food is beneficial for fast growing crops such as lettuces and tomatoes.
Dividing up the Space
Some vegetables such as potatoes, courgettes, buttercup / pumpkins, sweet corn, and broad beans take a lot of space and are best grown in a separate area where they are allowed space to spread without shading or smothering smaller plants.
Growing in plots rather than rows often works best for the smaller plants such as lettuces, carrots, onions, leeks.
Modern hybrid varieties of vegetables are higher yielding, better tasting, more disease resistant and more uniform than old varieties.
Harrisons is happy to provide you advice on the best varieties for your area and the season.
We recommend ican superior seeds as your first choice as they have been specially selected by us as the very best performers for the home gardener.
Most vegetables prove disappointing if grown out of season.
Cool season vegetables grow best at temperatures of 10 to 20°C, but can tolerate colder. This group includes broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, peas, spinach and turnips.
These cool-season vegetables are best planted February to September for harvesting May to December.
Warm season vegetables grow best at temperatures above 20°C. They grow poorly in cold weather and are susceptible to frost. This group includes beans, capsicum, eggplant, potato, sweet corn, kumara, tomato and all the curcubit vine crops.
They are planted October to February for harvesting December to May.
There is a third group of vegetables which are intermediate and grow best at temperatures of 15 to 25°C. This group includes beetroot, cabbage, carrot, celery, leek, lettuce, parsnip, radish and silver beet. Many of these can be grown in cool or warm conditions, but the correct variety for the season must be chosen or they may bolt to seed.
During dry weather it is important to keep your vegies growing by regular watering. If your vegies get thirsty they will very quickly go to seed.
Refer to our page on Watering for more detail.
Planning for a continual crop
If you plant up a whole vegie garden in October it is likely all of your crops will be ready for harvest at the same time in early January just as the family goes away on holiday.
Here’s some handy hints on avoiding an oversupply of your favourite vegies;
- For a continuous supply sow little and often.
- At the same time make use of the season changes and rotate crops.
- A plot system or a narrow garden with short rows often makes this easier to manage.