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Vegetable growing tricks and tips from Greenbourne Nursery

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

✦ Have your own little veggie patch



At the moment vegetable plants are immensely popular. Here at Greenbourne Nursery, we have experienced a demand like never before. Personally, I have always found growing vegetables one of the most satisfying and enjoyable aspects of horticulture. I believe that planting vegetable seeds with my mum so many years ago is where it truly all began. Over the years I’ve had periods of growing vegetables that my wife deemed as ‘mild obsession’. There were a few years where I was on the competitive vegetable growing circuit. Entering the shows was fun but time consuming. I remember chasing one of the younger residents down the street yelling at him, “What did you bloody do to my hubbard squash?!” I had become a grumpy old vegetable grower at the ripe old age of 29! I did learn a lot of growing tips and tricks from other competitors at the shows. However, the most important thing I learnt was to create ways to retain interest in my hobby. By making the vegetable area more comfortable and less time consuming I found that I actually spent more time in it.


So here are a few little tips that I always use when growing vegetables.




Soil preparation is everything


Yes, I realise you have heard me go on and on about soil preparation in numerous articles in this series. However, I am going to reiterate it again here. And for very good reasons, vegetables require high amounts of nutrients, a good supply of water and light, friable soil to allow all those beneficial organisms to breed, feed and thrive.


When preparing a new garden bed, do till the soil lightly to disrupt any compaction issues. Add ingredients such as compost, cow manure, mushroom compost etc. Combine all the ingredients with the existing ground soil gently, then water well to completely saturate the area. Top dress the soil with a manure pellet and then you have an area that is primed for some vegetable planting. If using an existing garden bed, the ideal situation is to not till the soil. Remember that we want as minimal disturbance to the ‘home’ of our precious little helpers as possible. Just add the fresh new ingredients in layers on top of the existing soil. Again, products like compost, cow manure etc. are great to use. After layering the ingredients on the existing soil, just lightly aerate the soil with a large fork then water in well. These strategies should be at least applied annually to keep the soil in good health.


Raised beds will make it easier and more enjoyable


In particular with your pick and go vegetables. Plants like silver beet, Asian greens and dwarf beans, for example. You will be surprised how having these plants at a more comfortable height will encourage you to return more often. Visually the plants look more appealing as you see through the dimensions of the plant rather than simply gazing at the top. The plants enjoy the drainage implications the raised planters provide and there is less incidence of pest and disease due to distance from the ground. Over the years I have personally had every type of vegetable garden imaginable and, without a doubt, I enjoy the raised bed. My latest one is made with corrugated iron, held in place with some metal piping. The height gives my aging body a break as there is less bending over to do. And my family, as well as myself, truly do use the garden area more often. By creating a more comfortable environment there is less likelihood of losing interest.



Get the jump on the new season


As the seasons change so do the varieties we grow. While I really do enjoy germinating seed at home, I do recommend purchasing young seedlings at the beginning of the season. Here in Australia, we have fantastic propagating nurseries that are always well ahead of the game. They are continually germinating and growing various varieties in sync with the season. Their propagation areas are state of the art and allow them to have varieties ready right when we need them. Now, please do germinate seeds, it is a fantastic hobby, however get the first batch of ready grown seedlings into the soil right at the turn of the season. It is as much about getting the maximum amount of time out of the season as it is about keeping our interest levels high. Waiting for seed to germinate can potentially distract attention away from the vegetable plot.



Get serious about seed


As I just mentioned, propagating seed is great. It allows you access to an incredible array of different varieties, allows the plants to climatise to your area more quickly and gives you personally great satisfaction having reared the plants from the very beginning. So do it well. I recommend using seed germinating ‘hot boxes’. Basically, these are small containers that are designed to create ideal situations to germinate your seed. They provide extra heat for their small atmosphere which allows the seed to germinate quicker and they also provide protection from attack, be it bugs or small animals. There are many small designs that you can purchase from nurseries. In the past, I have had great success with clear storage containers from the hardware stores. They work very well. Just keep them out of direct sunlight as the plastic can deteriorate when exposed to direct UV light. If germinating direct in the garden area, re-use soft drink containers. Simply cut the bottom off the bottle and place the bottle over and around the area the seed has been placed. It is an excellent strategy to stop slugs and snails getting at your young, vulnerable seedlings.



Using electricity to stop snails


No, we are not about to plug a device into the 240V! If slugs and snails are causing you grief, try some copper tape. The slimy little guys get small electric shocks when they come into contact with the copper tape. If you can secure the perimeter of the area with the copper tape you will be creating a near impenetrable boundary around your pride and joys. It is also great to use around potted plants - simply place the copper stripping around the pot and they will find it difficult to climb up the pot and into the soil area. I’ve had good results with this method. There will always be a few tough snails that push through the pain barrier to get to my vegetables but certainly fewer. I take it as a compliment anyway. My vegetables must be so good that it is worth going through pain to get to them!


Get them on the juice


Keep your vegetables powering through the growing season by liquid feeding them regularly. I liquid feed most of my vegetable beds at least fortnightly. The best liquid feed I have used is certainly a dilution of worm castings. ‘Worm tea’ as it is commonly called is absolutely fantastic. If you don’t have a worm farm it is certainly worth giving one a go. The nutrient levels and the organism activity that comes in a good worm tea is simply amazing. If you don’t have access to worm tea don’t despair. There are fantastic products out there for you to purchase at the nursery. The best ones like Searles liquid 5 in 1, provide your vegetables with everything they regularly need over the growing season. The main tip is to use these liquid fertilisers often and routinely.


Grow what you use


This might sound like a silly phrase but it is easy to get caught up and distracted with all the wonderfully exotic range of vegetables we have access to. When I was growing a lot of strange and unusual varieties for the competitions I was entering, I would often return from the garden with a surprisingly empty basket to use for dinner. I recall my lovely wife one day walking through my vegetable garden and commenting how wonderful everything looked, the gourds hanging majestically, spiney cucumbers sitting like little hand grenades and giant marrows as big as small children. She then politely added that it is a good thing that they look so good because they taste like sh@!...So when you are planning your vegetable garden do take time to realise what food you regularly purchase from the shops and try not to get obsessed with competition growing!



So good luck out there in your vegetable garden. My biggest tip is to make sure you do all you can to keep it continually interesting and enjoyable. So, see you at the nursery for all your vegetable growing needs or just for a friendly chat.


Thanks for the gardening tip, Greenbourne Nursery!


Greenbourne Nursery, Wauchope Plants and Landscape Supplies


a/ 239 High St, Wauchope NSW 2446

p/ +612 6585 2117

 

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