How to guide: The benefits of building a veggie garden

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Starting your own backyard vegetable garden is an affordable, healthy and environmentally conscious way to grow and consume your own vegetables.

According to industry insights “greater health consciousness and higher household disposable incomes have boosted demand for vegetables over the past five years” with favourable weather conditions increasing output volumes [1].

Due to Australia’s varied range of climates, temperatures and soils, a wide variety of vegetables can be grown and produced all over the country – including in your own back yard!

Follow our guide on how to start your own backyard vegetable garden and grow small garden vegetables just for you and your family. Similarly, if you’re looking for further information around how to structure your vegetable garden, we’d recommend this post on garden design.

What you’ll need:

  • Space for your garden
  • Rich soil
  • Raised garden bed or existing garden frames
  • Shovel
  • Seeds or young plants
  • Garden shears

Where to start?

The first step for a beginner, is to start small and spend time learning the basics before delving into a larger garden with an even larger time commitment.

A great size for a beginner’s backyard vegetable garden is 3.05 x 3.05 metres, about the size of a small bedroom [2]. Get ready to plant up to five types of produce for healthy meals. Overtime you’ll get to learn how much produce you and your family can eat. In an apartment or smaller setting, opt for containers to grow your small garden vegetables instead.

Choose a spot for your garden

When building your own veggie garden make sure to find the best spot based on the shape, size and location of your garden.

We’d always recommend choosing a site that’s closer to your home and that way you can easily pick produce, grab veggies for a healthy and affordable dinner and avoid a long walk to get there.

Sun and water contribute largely to the overall health of your garden. Position your garden from north to south for maximum sun exposure and try to avoid the shade altogether [2]. The fastest growing vegetables in a garden need at least 6-8 hours of sun per day without blockage from trees or shrubs.

However, if your yard provides at least 4 hours of direct sun exposure try planting vegetables and herbs that can tolerate at least a little bit of shade (lettuce, kale, spinach, parsley and thyme) [3].

Try to place your vegetable garden close to a source of water to make watering your vegetables easier. After planting seeds, it’s wise to water your vegetables frequently to keep them healthy and strong.

Once your vegetables have started growing it’s best to plan when you’ll water your garden opting for every 2-3 days rather than every day. That way, water will continue to move deep within the soil and encourages the roots to grow deeper and access the nutrients needed to produce healthy, strong vegetables.

Plant in rich soil

Planting veggies in amongst a rich soil is the single most important factor in maintaining your garden. You want a deep, organically rich soil to grow healthy roots that will in turn absorb more water and nutrients. The result of this is a beautifully healthy backyard full of vegetables.

The best way to achieve a deep layer of rich soil is using a raised bed. Create a raised garden bed by lining the bottom of frames on an existing lawn with several layers of newspaper, then fill with soil.

Raised beds create up to “four times more” than the amount of space in a planted row [3]. With an efficient amount of spacing there is more room and you have more time to grow plants. You’ll spend less time weeding and more time watering and harvesting.

Plan your vegetable garden layout

Before planting it is best to test your soil. If you squeeze the ball and it doesn’t drain well your best option may be to use a raised bed instead of a sunken one.

Test your soil with these three easy steps:

  1. Soak soil with water, wait a day or two then dig up to test
  2. Squeeze the soil hard to determine drainage
  3. Form a solid ball and add any organic matter if it falls apart too easily

A rounded bed can also impact your backyard vegetable’s growth. You can round the soil to form an arc and create much more space for planting! Green vegetables like lettuce and spinach are great vegetables to plant on the edge of a rounded bed.

It’s best to crop plants in staggered triangles and avoid any squares or rows. In this formation there will be more space but be careful not to cram plants in too tightly. Be mindful that some plants won’t even grow properly or reach their full size in tight spaces.

Grow produce for your family

One of the biggest benefits of a veggie garden is getting to grow produce that you love.

Firstly, you’ll have to choose between seeds and transplants. Seeds can conveniently be sown into the garden but make sure to check the package for direct instructions. The best vegetables to grow from seedlings in a garden are the fast-growing peas, beans, squash and beets.

If you prefer to buy young plants from a nursery or garden centre instead, you’ll notice that they’ll give you an earlier harvest and do a better job of resisting pests. This best works for plants that are slow growing such as celery, kale and broccoli.

Grouping the right vegetables together is a vital part of any vegetable garden. Planting compatible or sister crops will save space, time and money.

Some of the best pairings include:

  • Corn, beans and squash
  • Tomatoes, basil and onions
  • Lettuce and peas
  • Carrots, onions and radishes
  • Beets and celery

Some of the worst pairings include:

  • Beans and peas
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Tomatoes and corn
  • Potatoes and corn
  • Peas and garlic

You’ll want to plant in succession to allow for more than one crop within the growing season. This way you’ll be able to harvest three to four crops from your backyard vegetable garden. It’s also important to note that you should replenish the soil each time you re-plant.

If you’re wanting to reap the benefits of gardening indoors then we’ve also got some of the best indoor plants to make inside your home, feel like what’s on the outside.

Harvest your vegetables

Harvesting your own vegetables vastly improves your physical and mental health. One of the many benefits of gardening is its ability to reduce stress, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gardening provides a goal and a task to accomplish which can also help to further build self esteem and ultimately make you happy.

Growing your own food can help you eat healthier and positively impact the environment. It presents a large opportunity for gardeners to learn about the weather and other relevant environmental factors.

One of the biggest benefits of growing your own food is knowing exactly what you’re eating and what has gone into your vegetables. Now you can safely consume fresh, healthy produce free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals polluting our environment and waterways.

Now that you know the benefits of building your own veggie garden, you can start planning yours with the time we now have at home.

[1]https://www.ibisworld.com/au/industry/outdoor-vegetable-growing/2056/

[2]https://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/planning-your-first-vegetable-garden/

[3]https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/a20706435/vegetable-garden-tips/

[4]https://healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/health-benefits-of-gardening/

This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Home Insurance

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