09 May 2017Vegetable garden: how to cultivate it
Here are some tips for cultivating your vegetable garden the traditional way.
Cultivating your own vegetable garden at home is a great, economical way to always have a store of fresh veg and garden produce to use in the kitchen. But where do you start? There are plenty of ways to grow vegetables. Of course, growing them the way our grandparents used to is certainly the best way to get tasty, top quality produce.
Choosing your site and preparing the ground
For the best possible results, first and foremost you have to take care over the position of the area you want to cultivate. Sun exposure is in fact a very important factor for growing strong, healthy vegetables. The vegetable garden should therefore be created in a part of the garden that is exposed to natural light for at least seven hours a day.
At this point preparation of the ground can begin, starting with hoeing. This process consists of turning all the earth in the area you will cultivate, at the same time clearing the soil of roots and stones, which might interfere with plant growth.
The second step required to prepare the ground for cultivation is to ensure that there are micro-organisms that facilitate correct plant nutrition, and therefore plant development. How do you do that? By enriching the soil with organic substances, which keep these micro-organisms alive and improve soil structure. You can buy all sorts of chemical substances to improve soil fertility, but if you want to cultivate your vegetable garden the old-fashioned way there are plenty of natural methods that are every bit as effective.
A very environmentally friendly technique is to use organic waste from leftover food produced at home every day: compost, an excellent natural fertiliser, that can be improved with grass cuttings and fresh leaves which decompose directly in the earth, offering high levels of nutritional substances. After scattering your fertiliser, you need to break down large clods of earth, so the fertiliser gets deep into the lower layers of soil, where the roots of the plants you grow will establish themselves. Our grandparents teach us that we can tell if our earth is well fertilised if there are earthworms.
Sowing, transplanting and watering your vegetable garden
The moment arrives for sowing or transplanting seedlings into your vegetable garden: naturally if you go for the former, it will take longer to see results compared to transplanting, but don't think transplanting is less delicate than starting from scratch with seeds. When planting seedlings, the earth should be slightly damp, as should the root ball. You should also take care not to plant your seedling too deep and make sure you leave the collar uncovered, that is, the part of the stem just above the roots. If the seedlings are very young, the advice is to plant them in the early morning, or even better, in the evening, so as to not exposed them immediately to excess light, which could shock them.
Once you have done your sowing and transplanting, you need to water them so that the seedling and seeds take root properly in the soil. From then on, watering the vegetable garden will be one of your daily tasks in growing strong, healthy plants. Remember that plants should never go without water, but neither should they be over-watered, to avoid pools of stagnant water forming, which may damage plants. Be careful where you direct the water too. Wet the earth and the roots, not the actual plants or leaves, because they may rot.
Tending and harvesting vegetables
When the fruits of your hard labours in your vegetable garden begin to appear, you'll need to watch out for parasites and weeds, which might attack your crop and ruin it. Our advice is not to use chemical pesticides and weed killers to avoid compromising the naturalness and authenticity of your vegetables, also because, as our grandparents taught us, there are plenty of natural ways to combat these two threats.
An old-fashioned remedy for parasites is, for example, to plant heads of garlic here and there between plants. They act like huge insect repellents. To combat weed growth, you could try mulching, which consists of covering the soil with a layer of different material. For a totally natural vegetable garden, you could use bark chips, cocoa shells or dry leaves.
Even during the harvest there are little things you can do to help protect plants and promote continuing growth of fruit and vegetables: never pull products off with your bare hands. Cut them delicately with scissors to avoid compromising healing.
Some advice for cultivating your vegetable garden and obtaining healthy bio and substainable vegetables.