HOW TO PREPARE YOUR GARDEN FOR PLANTING
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SPOT
It's time to build your vegetable garden. First of all, you'll need to find the sunniest spot you have, ideally you want year-long sun. This is pretty important for healthy plants. It's recommended that you need 6-8 hours of sun a day. That 6 hours can be at any time of the day, if your garden is anything like mine it's the winter sun that's harder to find.
Just find your sunniest spot that is in a practical location for you to tend.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE GARDEN
Next don't be tempted to go huge. Instead, it's better to build two smaller gardens, as it's really important to be able to reach across the whole garden, so aim for a max width of 2m. This will make it easier to tend to plants and easily water. If you don't have the know-how or, like the rest of us, don't have the time, we've got some vege garden kits in our shop making it super easy to build your garden.
CHOOSE THE TYPE OF GARDEN FOR YOU
Your garden can be mounded, raised or set at ground level, each has its advantages. Our preference is a raised garden as a starter. It means buying in new soil, but then you know it's clean and weed-free. When choosing a raised timber garden aim for a non-treated version, this means your garden can be organic, but the frame may not last forever.
The other benefit of a raised garden is that it will drain well, vegetable plants do not like to be waterlogged.
If you are going with ground level gardens make sure you use cardboard to smother weeds first and create some drainage channels for the water to move away from your plants.
SOIL PREPARATION IN A NEW GARDEN
The quality of your soil is so important. A good, healthy soil is made up of many ingredients, including inorganic compounds.
1. Once you know where your garden is going, skim off any grass or vegetation below. Make the planter box level. Line the garden with cardboard if you think there's an existing weed issue in the location you've chosen. Make sure you use non-printed, brown cardboard, insure you've removed the tape. Cut a few holes in the boxes to help with drainage.
2. Fill the garden with organic Vegetable Mix, layers of Organic Compost and Sheep Pellets. Chicken poo is also another great addition if you can find a good organic source.
There's plenty of other options for quality soil around Auckland if you're not so worried if it's organic or not, Central Landscapes have a good supreme mix which is perfect for vegetable gardens. Mix in some extra compost and grab a bag of worm castings or sheep pellets while you're there. The directions of use will be on the side of the bag.
If you are able, it's best to head to your local soil supplier, grab one of their free trailers and take a load of soil home. You'll find a trailer load of soil is more cost effective than buying soil in smaller plastic bags. Using a trailer for collection will also reduce the amount of one-use plastic that would be going straight into your bin.
3. Fill your garden close to the top of your raised planter if you aren't planning on planting immediately. You'll find it will settle down a bit after a few days reducing the level slightly.
4. Be careful not to stand on the soil once prepared.
PLANTING IN POTS OR CONTAINERS
1. If you have minimal room in your backyard for a vegetable garden just use pots or containers. We don't care where or how you start a garden, just get something growing. This is flexible gardening, you can move the pots to the sun and they are also a great option for kids. Here's my fav tip for the month, head to Kmart and get some of their garden containers, there's plenty to choose from and they look ok too.
2. Use Vegetable Mix and a touch of organic compost.
HOW TO IMPROVE CLAY SOIL - EXISTING GARDEN
1. Turn the soil to aerate it as soon as possible. In spring, apply lime when the soil is dry. Lime has so many benefits, go on google it.
2. Use plenty of Vegetable Mix and compost for the best harvest outcomes.
This is just a brief guide, there's plenty more information out there if you need it. Finally, as we're in Auckland we still need to conserve water. Start collecting your rain water in empty buckets or watering cans now.