Your Garden in November

Your Garden in November

Plant a Food Garden

Gardening in general is a very hands-on enjoyable activity and especially so when it comes to the growing of vegetables, herbs and other edibles in your garden.

The idea is to have a continuous supply of seasonal varieties; enough for the household and it must be a fresh, tasty and good quality harvest. In order to achieve this you will need to visit your food garden on a regular basis, with some days where you will put in a good bit of healthy, outdoor work and other days for just a few minutes. This may be to run through the beds to observe, take note of what needs to be done and plan what actions to take next. Of course, the best few minutes you will spend in the garden, are those you will spend harvesting those delicious and fresh crops.

A sustainable food garden may seem a little daunting at first, but with perseverance, learning from your mistakes, a few helpful hints and tips, as well as steering clear of certain common mistakes; food gardening is extremely fulfilling and rewarding.

As a first timer, start on a small scale and choose varieties that you really would like to have in the kitchen. Plant a few seeds or seedlings at a time and repeat every two to four weeks to ensure a smaller but constant crop supply. As your confidence and abilities grow, so you can also grow your varieties and even begin to experiment with the exotic and unusual.

Choosing your preferred vegetables and herbs will be a question of personal tastes, family discussions and perhaps favorite recipes. The plants themselves and the ultimate success for a great harvest, depend on the correct planting area and very importantly the condition of the soil. Most herb and vegetable varieties do best where they get at least four to six hours of sunlight per day. Try for a warm North or West facing position. Remember however, that walls and paving can increase the heat in these areas.

A fertile and well-drained soil is essential for strong, healthy and vigorous growth. This will ensure a strong root system which in turn will ensure that your top growth then matures into a bountiful harvest. Dig over the soil and remove any large rocks and foreign materials. Work in copious amounts of compost to enhance the organic content. Not only does this help with aeration and water holding ability of the soil, but also allows for the good, essential micro-organisms to flourish.

The plants require a lot of energy to germinate, grow and deliver a crop all within two to four months, so feeding is very important. At planting use an organic 6.3.4 and bone meal and follow this up on a regular four-to-five-week cycle with an organic 3.1.5. Keep up the feeding all the way until harvest as this keeps the leaves strong and full of minerals. Once you have harvested your crop and the season is at an end, chop up the leaves and dig them back into the soil as green compost. 

Irregular and over watering do adversely affect your crops. Vegetables and herbs are shallow rooted plants so keeping the top thin layer of soil damp all the time will lead to small, weak roots and will increase the chance of fungal diseases. You need to force the roots a little deeper and to grow bigger, so a deep penetrating soak every few days is better than a little water every day. 

As the plants mature, begin to flower and bear fruit, pests and diseases may rear their ugly heads. Diseases will mostly take a hold on weak plants under stress and insect pests are there to feed and breed. So before reaching out for sprays, check your soil for good drainage, see that the area gets enough sunlight, and make sure of your feeding. Check the plant often as it is easier to get rid of a few errant bugs than to deal with a larger infestation.

Make access to the garden easy, keep the project simple and fun, choose easy to grow and favorite varieties and keep a record of both successes and failures for future planning. Tackle this venture with enthusiasm and so relish the deliciousness of a home-grown harvest. 

Happy Gardening!