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The first step is deciding where your vege garden is going to be. Consider proximity to the back (or front) door, sun and shelter. While for some transforming a section of the garden into an edible space might be the way to go, for others the addition of raised beds will be more desirable.

The next step is then determining what you want to grow and when the best time to plant it will be. A vege growing plan will help you decide what, when and where to plant (you can download one at mitre10.co.nz/vege-growing-plan) and offer inspiration for what to grow next.

As far as plant type goes, modern hybrid varieties are typically higher yielding, better tasting, and more disease-resistant. If you are starting from seed, start germinating in a mini-glasshouse in a seed tray, and then transplant into the garden. For those nervous about their green thumb (or two) start out by buying seedlings. It will save time, and often only a small number of plants are needed. Look for good-quality seedlings around 5–8 cm in height, with 6–8 fully-formed leaves.

Preparing your soil is best done with a vegetable mix. A high-quality natural-based planting mix with the right blend of nutrients will give your veges the best possible start, and sustained growth throughout the season. You can also boost your soil with a liquid fertiliser like seaweed tonic. Also make sure you are considering the condition of your soil. If it has a lot of clay in it, or alkaline, your veges won’t grow well.

Before you start planting make a plan – dividing your space into sections, or growing zones. Lay out your plants according to your growing zones, leaving space for succession and companion planting. Stake or frame any vegetables, such as beans, that require a structure to grow around.

Adding a layer of pea straw mulch to protect your plants against the elements will also keep the roots moist, and keep the weeds at bay. Stagger your planting and sow a little, but often.

MITRE 10 Garden Know How

Vege plant care

During dry weather, it’s important to keep vegetables actively growing with regular watering. If they suffer moisture stress, they’ll just go to seed.

Feed your veges regularly with vegetable food to encourage healthy growth, and attract
the worms.

Weather, weeds, pests and diseases can all affect the success of your garden. Keep a good look out for pests and diseases, and when spraying, think about using an organic option, like a pyrethrum spray.

For more information, visit the team at mitre10.co.nz