Starting a Vegetable Garden: Step by Step Guide
Growing your own produce is not only trendy; it also gives you readily available ingredients on your doorstep, reducing your carbon footprint and boosting freshness and taste.
But starting a vegetable garden isn’t just a case of sowing some seeds in pots. You don’t need a huge amount of space for a lot of foodstuffs, but your vegetables do need the right conditions to thrive.
This concerns the quality of your soil, how you plant your seeds (or plug plants) and what you do to care for them until they’re ready to harvest. Don’t be afraid to start small until you get used to growing and caring for produce, and only grow what you will actually eat.
Luckily, you can get your vegetable patch ready to go with the help of hiring power tools from Speedy Services. With a range of landscape gardening and power tools available to hire, your DIY task can be done in no time, and to a high-quality finish.
Before you start a vegetable patch
Where will it go? This is the first thing to think about. If you have a small patio or balcony with no ground soil access as such, your best bet will be to build a raised bed using rot-resistant wood. But if you do have access to soil and want to build your vegetable patch into the ground, read on. c
The main key focus is the sun. Your area should receive six hours of full sun per day, minimum. But if nowhere in your garden gets this treatment, don’t be put off; there are still options which are easy to grow in less sunny conditions, too.
You need to get your area ready, removing anything on the soil, flattening the soil out and churning it up to make it easy to dig into. We have all the tools to make this possible. It may be a case of lifting patio flagstones; you should always get help as they can be heavy. Or you could need to remove grass.
If you’re replacing turf on your quest to be green-fingered, a turf cutter will work wonders. They cut out the need for manual digging and turn removal with a spade, limiting the risk of back injuries and saving time.
When shopping for compost, ensure it advertises itself as being good for growing produce. This will include loads of natural fertiliser, but you will probably still want to get some fertiliser for down the line. A complete all-in-one is best.
Organic fertilisers such as seaweed, hoof & horn, fish blood & bone, poultry manure pellets and liquid comfrey or nettle feeds are ideal, but inorganic ones such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose are also good.
How to make a vegetable garden
Once you have everything ready, you just need a nice day to begin digging. Depending on the time of year, you will also need to either sow your seeds or purchase plug plants.
You will need:
- Turf cutter (optional)
- Good quality compost for vegetables
- Vegetable plug plants or seeds
Always remember to wear the appropriate PPE when carrying out any DIY work. When in the garden, safety boots and gloves are a must. You should also wear eye protection when working with garden tools.
Step 1: Mark out your area
If you’re removing flagstones, think about which ones will need to be lifted. As mentioned, don’t be afraid to start small until you get used to growing.
If you’re removing turf, you may want to use pegs and some string to mark out the area to remove. Either way, knowing how large your patch will be will give you a guide on what you can grow, and will ensure the patch looks right in your garden.
Step 2: Remove the material
Whether flagstones or turf, you need to remove this, so you have access to the bare soil underneath. If you will be using a turf cutter, read the instructions carefully before you begin. Cut your grass short and remove all objects and debris from the surface.
All hired tools from Speedy come with instructions and guidance and are checked before being available to hire again. Ensure you know what to do before you begin and wear your eye protection, safety boots and gloves at all times.
The sod will be heavy when lifted, so shake off as much soil as possible before putting it in your wheelbarrow and disposing of it. It can be put in a compost bin, relocated elsewhere in the garden, given away to anyone who needs it or disposed of with a green waste collection.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: At this stage, you may want to conduct a soil test. This will show you what quality your soil is, how much you need to prepare it and how much it will need to be replaced with quality compost.
Step 3: Rotavate
Soil which has been underneath a patio or lawn will be quite dense and compacted. If you’re planting vegetables, there’s also a chance it isn’t good enough quality. Clay soil, or very clumpy soil, simply won’t give your vegetables the right environment.
Not to worry. A rotavator will do the trick. Before you get going, you will want to read our guide on how to use a rotavator. Repeatedly tilling the soil will give you a finer consistency, which is easier to dig into, easier for the water and fertiliser to move down into and allows your roots to grow.
While rotavating, you may wish to include some manure or good quality compost to get this mixed through into the natural soil. But if the soil isn’t in good enough condition, you will want to remove the top layer with a spade once rotavated and replace it entirely with compost.
- SPEEDY TOP TIP: Worried about weeds or grass returning? If so, use some weed membrane. Try to lay this deep down, so your veg still has room to root.
Step 4: Get planting
You can either sow seeds directly into your vegetable plot, or plant plug plants which have already been started. Some vegetables which can be planted from seed include:
These could be good if you don’t have space to grow starters. But you will need to transplant foods such as tomato, peppers, cabbage and onion. If you haven’t already sown the seeds to produce the starters, save these until next year so you can prepare.
Dig an appropriately sized hole in your ground with a shovel, before planting your seed or starter. Ensure the soil is pressed down around the plant to allow no air to get in, and to keep it secure. Give your vegetables enough room to grow as well. Those which grow underground will need space.
Step 5: Maintain
All that is left now is to maintain your veg garden and watch it grow! Some handy tips:
- Pull any weeds which come through when they are young
- Follow the instructions on your fertiliser to know when to feed them
- Consider covering with netting; caterpillars can be a pain
- Read about other pests and diseases too. Some affect only certain plants, such as the carrot fly
- You may want to put some sort of border around the plot if it is in the grass, making the grass easier to mow without affecting your produce
- Stake plants which grow tall, such as peas and tomatoes
But most importantly – enjoy your garden and produce!
When can I build a vegetable garden?
You can start any time of year, and then start planting what is suitable for the time of year. But ideally, it is a good idea to prepare your vegetable patch in early spring or autumn.
This way, you can make the most of both growing seasons. You also don’t have to dig in hot weather, which makes the ground harder and is also a struggle for you.
Ready for more DIY tips?
And there you have it. That’s how to start your veg garden. Do carry out some further reading if you want to know more about growing certain foods, however.
If you enjoyed our blog, we hope you find the tips useful. And when you’re ready to tackle the next DIY project, we have all of the tools needed to get the job done, available to hire online, from one of our nationwide depots or selected B&Q stores. Open a Speedy account today.
Don’t forget to share your work with us @speedyhirediy too.
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