What to plant in your vegetable garden and when
First things first. What kind of foods are you going to have in your veggie garden – and when is the best time to start?
You may wish to think of the purpose of your vegetable garden, and how much space you have to grow your patch. Great vegetables that can grow year-round include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, kale, and certain onions.
Take the the time to choose vegtables that work best for when you get started - from gardens to start in autumn to the best herbs to grow in winter.
For those wanting to start a vegetable garden in an apartment or smaller dwelling, consider potted vegetable plants such as rocket, spring onion, beans, peas, or radishes. You could also consider growing a vegetable garden from food scraps.
Herbs are also a great way to start off small, while providing your household with a myriad of homegrown flavours to choose from, such as parsley, mint, chives, and oregano.
For a monthly, year-round guide, see our handy table below.
Where to grow a vegetable garden at home
The best place for a vegetable garden is on level ground, or slightly elevated. You also will want to think about exposure to natural water sources like rain, as well as sunlight. It is best to avoid spaces next to large landmarks or fencing areas that have the ability to block out the sunlight.
“The best veggie patches have good sun exposure – so have a northerly or westerly aspect,” says Richard Rowe, Training and Learning Coordinator at Sustainable Gardening Australia.
“Fruiting vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers and summer crops, need at least eight hours of sunlight a day. If you have a smaller courtyard and not as much sun, you can still have a veggie garden, but you’ll do better with root vegetables and leafy vegetables like lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, peas, carrots, parsnips, and radishes. They won’t grow as quickly but you will have a reasonable crop.”
Doing the groundwork
Just as important as your vegetable patch location is the soil you choose to grow your new produce in. Whether your soil is clay, sandy or loamy, add animal manure or compost before planting.
“It’s the key to start bringing your veggie garden to life – it feeds the life within the soil,” says Rowe. Organic materials like manure should be mixed in gently with the soil to releases nutrients and retain moisture, helping your vegetables grow.
If your soil contains clay, Rowe recommends adding some gypsum (available at local hardware stores and nurseries) to break down the heavy clay structure.