Wipe Out the Weeds
One of the things you can do in the garden is to get down to getting rid of those weeds. Weeds are the first plants to grow as we head towards spring.
Digging weeds out manually is effective for young and annual weeds but perennial weeds with large roots will be better controlled by spraying with a systemic weed killer such as Weed Weapon Extra Strength or Rapid Action. These will kill the weed roots, so nothing re-sprouts, and do not leave residual activity in the soil; so you can plant again in the area once the weeds have died.
This is a Good Time to Think About Growing Your Own Vegetables
Even if you have never grown a vegetable patch before you may be thinking it would be a good time to start. You can grow your own fruit and veg and reduce visits to the supermarket. Here are some tips on how to establish and maintain a healthy and productive patch:
Locate a Space in Your Garden
A sunny sheltered area is best. Many vegetables like dappled shade but you can create this by using shade cloth or planting tall shading plants where they are needed.
Check the soil in your chosen plot; look at the colour and feel the texture. Ideally it will be dark with organic humus and be well draining. If it isn’t you will need to add well-rotted compost/manure or other organic matter and improve drainage by digging in some sand. See more on What’s in Your Soil.
Don’t give yourself too much work, start with a small area first. Then if you find you need a larger plot, you can increase the size later.
If your soil contains a lot of chalk or clay, it will be easier to grow vegetables in raised beds filled with a mixture of soil-based compost and topsoil.
It is a good idea to do a pH test with a pH meter or test kit, to find out how acid or alkaline it is. Most vegetable crops will grow best with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 (7.0 is neutral). Soil pH can be adjusted upward by applying lime and downward by applying sulphur. See here for more on soil pH and conditioning.
Remove the Weeds
Either spray out weeds with Weed Weapon Extra Strength or Rapid Action and then turn over the soil once the weeds have died or dig out the weeds carefully ensuring all fragments of the weed roots have been removed.
Add Organic Material, Humus and Fertiliser
If the soil in your plot is pale in colour, high in clay, very sandy or otherwise poor you should improve the soil by digging in organic matter such as well rotted compost, store supplied compost and some fertiliser.
Choose Your Fruit and Vegetables
Onions, swedes, carrots, parsnips, beans, potatoes, cabbages, rocket, garlic, pumpkin and courgettes are good crops for beginners. Herbs are also, generally easy to grow. All these can be grown from seed and you can start growing the seeds indoors or in a glasshouse so they are ready to plant out as seedlings once the risk of frost has passed.
Once you have established your vegetable plot ensure you keep on top of weeds by removing them with your hand trowel when they are small or spraying them with Weed Weapon Natural Power. Don’t let weeds grow large as they will be more difficult to remove and may go to seed and spread the problem. Weed Weapon Natural Power is inactive in the soil and certified for organic gardening.
Keep feeding the soil in your vegetable patch by adding homemade compost. Learn more about composting.
Watch out for pests and diseases; regularly check your vegetable patch and if you suspect a pest or disease identify the problem and get a solution as soon as possible. Pests and diseases are always more easily controlled early. Use the Kiwicare Problem Solver to identify the problem and find the solution/s. See Kiwicare's organic range.
Rotate Your Crops
When you have grown and harvested your fruit or vegetables, prevent pests and diseases by planting something different in the same place. Prepare the area with some more organic matter and fertiliser to give the new crop the nutrients it will need. Vegetable patches need nutrients replenished more than any other garden bed because nutrients are removed when the plants are harvested. Organic material also encourages the beneficial soil micro-organisms that process the nutrients and pass them to the plant roots. Learn more about Life in the Soil.
Keep safe and enjoy the healthy and tasty homegrown fruit and vegetables that you and your family can grow.