What and when to plant in your vegetable garden
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.
Great vegetables that grow year-round include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, kale, and certain onions. For those wanting to start a vegetable garden in an apartment or smaller dwelling, consider potted plants such as rocket, spring onion, beans, peas, or radishes. You can even grow a vegetable garden from food scraps.
Herbs such as parsley, mint, chives, and oregano are the perfect way to start off small, and once established are a cost-effective way to the boost the flavours in your home-cooked meals. As a general rule, the more sun your herbs get, the more flavour and scent they will have.
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 need to consider the aspect of your vegetable garden and how much exposure it will have to sun and rain. It is best to avoid areas where buildings or fences block the sun for most of the day.
“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
Soil is just as important as location. Whether your soil is clay, sandy or loamy, add animal manure or compost before planting.
“It’s the key to 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.
Raised garden beds offer better water retention in areas that have sandy soil and better drainage in areas with clay soils, but you may face the added cost of extra bags of potting soil and compost to fill the bed up.