18 Nov 2015

8 Vegetable Garden Ideas

Once upon a time, the home vegetable garden consisted of rows upon rows of cultivated strips of land packed full of veggies, from tomatoes and cucumbers to potatoes, snow peas, sweetcorn, and zucchini. Today it’s different, and growing your own veggies doesn’t have to be quite so overwhelming. Today’s vegetable gardens can be grown in even the most limited of spaces.

For the modern gardener, the planting techniques available are virtually endless.

Once upon a time, the home vegetable garden consisted of rows upon rows of cultivated strips of land packed full of veggies, from tomatoes and cucumbers to potatoes, snow peas, sweetcorn, and zucchini. Today it’s different, and growing your own veggies doesn’t have to be quite so overwhelming. Today’s vegetable gardens can be grown in even the most limited of spaces.

For the modern gardener, the planting techniques available are virtually endless. You can choose to go the traditional route and prepare a large area for growing a variety of foods, or you can opt for low-maintenance veggie boxes. You can incorporate flower borders to make your garden ‘prettier’, or you can even choose to grow your veggies on the window sill. Growing vegetables is all about matching your needs with the conditions your plants need.

When growing your own vegetable garden, there are certain things the modern gardener should consider. These include:

The size of your site

The size of the area you have to work with will make an obvious impact on the type of gardening technique you use. The larger the space, the more options you have, but with careful planning then even the tiniest of spaces can house some thriving veggies.

The conditions

The condition of your soil is a key factor in growing fruit and veggies. Heavy clay and thin, stony soil can be difficult to work with, and poor drainage will always mean your crops fail to thrive.

What you want to grow

This will most likely depend on what you like to eat and how much time you’re willing to give to maintaining your crops. If potatoes, carrots, and zucchinis seem too much to handle, you might prefer to stick to salad veggies or herbs.

Your household

If you are part of a family of five, your vegetable requirements will obviously be larger than that of a person living in a home by themselves. Producing enough for your household is important, but to be successful you must pay attention to the planting instructions to make sure you leave sufficient space between plants.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF VEGETABLE GARDENS

Having considered the above factors, you can now look at the varying types of vegetable gardens to find an option that best suits you. Common options include:

The traditional in-ground garden

Growing crops on one large patch of soil is a system that still works well for those gardeners that have the time, energy, and space to do it. You will need to dig over and clear the space of weeds, before incorporating as much compost and leaf mould as possible. Try to plan your spacing well and don’t forget to include paths to access your crops.

Raised beds

Raised beds are essentially large boxes of soil and compost. Boxes can be constructed using a range of materials, from large sleepers and bricks to wooden crates and boards. They are particularly useful in areas with poor soil or drainage, and can be covered with cloches to provide warmth and protection in cold weather. Some commercially available raised beds include holes into which hoops fit, allowing you to easily cover the whole bed with fleece or netting.

No-dig gardens

The no-dig technique of gardening is suitable on soils already well aerated, and is sometimes referred to as “lasagne gardening”. Start by laying several layers of newspaper over the portioned off soil (use narrow, high boards), as well as layers of mulch made with straw, sawdust, and grass clippings. Water this well, lay down some compost, and finish with about 6 cm of soil – the layer in which to plant your seeds. Top beds up with compost as required.

Permaculture

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centred around stimulating or directly using the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The three core tenets are: care for the earth, care for the people, return of surplus. Design seeks to minimise waste, human labour and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy. In other words, observe your sunny areas, your sheltered spots, and the direction of wind, and decide on your growing methods using this as the base. You can learn more about building a permaculture garden here.

Pots and containers

Virtually every vegetable plant that can be grown in the ground can also be grown in a pot or container. The size of the pot is determined by the full-grown size of the plant. Pots and containers work best when growing herbs, and the beauty of them is that you can move your herbs in and out of the sun and rain.

Indoors

Using products such as the Aerogarden Bounty, growing vegetables can easily be done indoors. With room for 45 Watts of LED lighting and 9 plants, the Aerogarden is the largest and most powerful Aerogarden to date. It allows you to grow fresh herbs, vegetables, salad greens, and flowers all year round, and plants can grow five times faster than in soil.

Windowsill planter

Pick the lightest and brightest window in the house and you can grow vegetables on your windowsill all year round. As the light is only coming from one side, pots might need to be turned every day or so, but otherwise, windowsill planters are easy to maintain.

Grow in the dark garden

Don’t have a sunny windowsill and have no outdoor space? Why not try growing fungi or sprouts? Mushrooms don’t require light to grow and can be grown in a dark cupboard using compost pre-seeded with mushroom spawn. Seeds can be sprouted by soaking and placing them in a jar. Cover with an old piece of nylon or gauze and secure with a rubber band. Keep seeds damp in a dark cupboard until they have germinated, then give them some light before eating.