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Planting the vegetable garden

Last month I was invited by the South Canterbury Horticultural Society to present a few ideas some beginner gardeners, plus a couple of others, who were looking to learn a few things from a master gardener. Further sessions are planned over the next couple of months as well.

No doubt there will be a number of you who might find information useful and outlined below is a summary of the night’s first ‘fireside meeting’.

Note: These are suggestions for persons wishing to start a new garden. Maybe for the first time or you maybe already a novice gardener and would like a few tips to improve your site.

Winter is an ideal time to get started …

1. Consider your chosen site for:

  • Sunlight: does it receive ample sun.
  • Shelter: e.g. from wind.
  • Drainage: a well drained area is desirable. If you have heavy clay soils which are poorly draining then consider building raised beds to compensate.

2. Now that you have your site

If you have a ‘green cover’ [e.g. lawn or an overgrown area infested with weeds], you will need to remove this cover. This can be done by:

  • Spraying with a herbicide to kill off the herbage.
  • Laying down a heavy mulch to prevent light reaching the plant cover. Use heavy cardboard or black plastic sheeting.
  • Cultivating the ground by digging over to ‘bury’ the ground cover. Winter is a good time to do this as frosts will help breakdown lumps of turf and soil.

3. Apply a liberal dressing of lime (2-3 handfuls per M2)

If you have clay soils, the clay particles can be broken down by adding Gypsum.

4. Add a generous layer of compost material

You can leave this until late winter depending which of the above methods you have used. I recommend at least 5-10kgs of good compost per m2.

To help the breakdown of the compost added, use EarthZing at 1-2 handfuls m2 and sprinkle this over the compost and lightly incorporate through. The EarthZing will help add valuable beneficial micro-organisms to the mix as well.

 My preferred compost materials are:

  • Composted bark /sawdust
  • Pea straw
  • Animal manures- horse/poultry and sheep

If you cannot source any of the above, visit a garden or landscape centre and buy some bulk garden compost. I recommend that you also add EarthZing for the reasons given above.

You Get Out What You Put In

An ‘investment’ in good compost each year will help build up a top quality soil in a short time and will yield excellent crop of nutrient dense foods for many years. Adding ZingBokashi fermented food waste on a continuing basis will also help maintain soil quality.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your EarthZing today, and happy planting!

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