Start a Garden. This article is more dedicated to beginners who have access to a small plot of land and want to start a very first garden, however, some information may be of interest to more seasoned gardeners. We will first see how to prepare your parcel then I would recommend some plants to start simply your first organic vegetable garden.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO START A VEGETABLE GARDEN?
Not much! A piece of land, some compost, some seeds and plants, and some basic tools. Not to mention a little patience, humility (besides this word “humility” takes its root of “humus” and humus is very respected by a good gardener), water, good weather, and not too much rain!
PREPARE YOUR GARDEN PLOT
The first thing is to devote a piece of land, do not panic if it is full of weeds or weeds (a name intentionally given to the “weed” because there are “bad” herbs? ). If this is the first time you start a vegetable garden, spend a minimum of one to two square meters. You will have some vegetables, not enough food for a year, but I guess it’s not (yet) your goal. Let’s see how to choose your location and how to prepare it.
1) The land must be fertile
How to know?
- If the earth is black brown it is rather positive!
- If it has the color of the building earth a little ocher orange, you will have work! But it is not lost so far, it will just cover a thick layer of fertile soil.
We will see later in the article how to fertilize your parcel of land.
2) The place should be well exposed
How to know?
- Avoid exposing it fully North. Most vegetables need sun.
- Avoid places too exposed to the wind.
- Must not be under conifers because nothing (or almost) grows under conifers.
3) The preparation of the ground
Both seasons are great times to start a vegetable garden.
How to start in the fall
If the field is covered with sod or weeds cover the site with dead leaves (or straw, hay), about 20 cm high over the entire surface. For almost six months the leaves will be degraded by insects, bacteria, and soil fungi. The weeds will break down under this thickness of organic matter. At the end of winter, your land will be loosened and enriched with organic matter.
How to start in the spring
If the plot is grassed cover it for at least a month, if it is covered with weeds (or after a month of grass sodding), use a fork spade (or better a grelinette). The goal is to lift the earth without turning it over. Plant your fork spade thoroughly, pull the handle towards you to lift the earth, then bring it back to the upright position. Shift your fork spade 15 to 20 centimeters back and make the same move.
Renew the movement on the whole parcel, once it is finished, take a bucket or a box then remove all the weeds, make sure to shake the clods to leave the earth on the parcel. You must see the roots of weeds when you put them in your bucket. I strongly recommend that you do this when the soil is dry and well-wiped.
Then pass the fang to break the clods and smooth your plot.
The last step before planting or sowing, fertilize your plot. And in an organic kitchen garden, please avoid chemical fertilizers! If you do not have compost (normal if you are a beginner) go for a treasure hunt, if it is not free you will pay about 2 € your compost bag of 20L, it’s really economical! Then spread the equivalent of a big compost shovel per square meter. Spread well evenly (using a rake or a hook). Then add the compost to your previously prepared layer (again with your fang or rake). Finish by smoothing, your plot is ready to receive your plants.
SEEDS AND PLANTS
Of course, to make a vegetable garden you need seeds. The question to ask yourself: Which vegetables do you want to eat? I advise you to start simply.
You start with two square meters
Try the radishes, some aromas like chives, sage, the essential basil, and thyme. You can also put two or three tomato plants, lettuce, flowers, and of course some strawberries. With all this, you will amply fill your two square meters.
For tomatoes: Buy them in a garden center in a bucket, prefer organic plants but I do not impose anything on you. I advise you to choose varieties with early yield, to get early, and to limit diseases. Although on this blog you will have enough information to counter the most common disease of tomatoes, mildew.
If you opt for tomato plants in pots wait until mid-May before planting, but get them one or two weeks before planting to quietly acclimate to outdoor conditions. Protect them from frost (for example, by returning them at night).
For radishes, buy seeds in the garden, you will easily find organic seeds.
For lettuce, buying seeds is much more profitable. Otherwise, buy a mini ball.
For aromatics: all in the scoop to start, but if you want try chives from seeds.
Some ideas for a first vegetable garden of 2m²
- 3 tomato plants
- 3 buckets of basil
- 3 buckets of carnations
- 6 buckets of strawberries
- 1 scoop of thyme
- 1 scoop of sage
- 1 scoop of chive seeds
- 1 bag of lettuce seeds
- 1 packet of radish seeds
With all this, you have nine different species on two square meters! Which is not bad, what do you say?
Organizing your plants
Plant your two or three tomato plants in line, towards the bottom of your plate, and separated by at least 50 cm. You will not have any bad surprises when the little ones will become big!
Between your tomato plants, we will do an action that is often done in organic, it is the use of companion plants. You have the choice: You can put between your tomatoes either carnations of India, plants of basilicas, or both! These plants will have a beneficial effect on your tomato plants, especially by acting on nematodes (small worms attacking the roots of tomatoes). Basil would also have an effect on late blight, which is a very common disease in tomatoes.
Sage put it a little apart, at least one meter away from other crops as it releases phenols that are toxic to other plants.
Plant the strawberries near the thyme, the latter likes to grow near strawberry plants, and in addition, it attracts bees when it is in bloom. Sow one or two rows of radish. Sow some lettuce seeds that you can then transplant and space them at least 25 cm apart. Sow a row of chives to mark a border.
To finish this first part here is a summary plan, of course, nothing is fixed, let go of your imagination and your creativity, and arrange it to your liking! You will not find sage in the typical plan below, I remind you that it is better to place it at least one meter from other plants. (Click on the plan to enlarge)
Watering and mulch
After sowing or planting do not forget to water, generously for a plantation, a little less for a sowing.
And finally, in organic gardening, never leave bare soil. Straw (with straw, hemp, etc …) your plot but never directly on a seedling, wait until your plants are well developed before mulching. If you have planted a plant (eg tomato) you can of course mulch after your first watering.
Start a kitchen garden
The decision is made, you will create your garden! Yes, but … Where to install it? What surface to give him? The land of my land suits it? When should I start? Should we plow? Which vegetables to plant? A puzzle before you even started! Do not panic; here are some tips to get you into the adventure of gardening serenely.
A prime location
To pamper your future vegetables, you must offer them a little piece of paradise: a flat ground with loose soil, rich and deep, neither too acidic nor too calcareous, bathed by the sun and sheltered from the winds …, a rare pearl!
By observing your land and what grows there spontaneously (see The diagnosis of soil by wild plants ), and by questioning also some farmers of the corner, you will be able to quite easily determine what characterizes it. If it turns out to be rather heavy, rather sandy, or too acidic, it can be improved by the use of good practices such as the provision of compost (poor soil, clay, or sand ), sulfur ( calcareous ), of wood ash(acid soil; read: are the ashes good for plants?) or green manure crop, such as mustard.
If all this seems a little too long or complicated to put in place, it is possible to realize a raised vegetable garden ( square or on hillocks ). By then bringing a mixture of adapted soil, you free yourself from the constraints of the nature of your soil.
For windy areas, a wall of the house or hedge is ideal for protecting your vegetables; failing that, plan to install on the edge of the vegetable garden currants, raspberries, or even rosemary or other laurel sauce that will make a very appreciable rampart.
It is wise, however, to remember that whatever tricks are put in place to deal with the “imperfections” of nature, it is always best to try to adapt to one’s environment; clay soil will be more suitable for beets, spinach, beans or perry while a sandy land will flourish asparagus, watermelon, potatoes, and another scorzonera.
And if parsley does not like soils too acidic, sorrel turn away from those that are too limestone. Finally, if the sun does not illuminate your kitchen garden sparingly, opt for lettuce, spinach, celery, or any other vegetable in the shade or in the shade.
An adapted project
To make your garden is to accept to devote a little (or more!) Of his time. To not lose it and find yourself overwhelmed by a task that is beyond you, it is best to size the project before starting.
If there is no room for you, ask yourself the following question: is it to spend time or feed the family? As it is difficult to know in advance where to set foot, it is best to start the first year modestly, with about 20 sqm, and enlarge afterward. 100 m² requires good availability (more than an hour), almost daily.
The next step is to assess your needs: Choose and quantify the vegetables to be planted or planted, taking into account the tastes and the composition of the family. To begin, it is better to focus on simple vegetables that you are sure to eat: radishes, beans, tomatoes, salads, strawberries, a foot of zucchini, and some herbs (a foot of chives, a foot of thyme, parsley). Carrots and potatoes (plan a little more space for them) are quite simple to grow but need to be stored if you sow or plant several rows.
And of course, before you start sowing, do not forget to learn about how each vegetable is grown!
To finalize the project, draw it. The plan of the kitchen garden makes it possible to better understand the occupation and the layout of the space by taking into account the place that will take each vegetable (in width and height) as and when they develop, alleys between the cultivated rows necessary for the passage of the gardener and the place which is released during the year, after the harvests.
The plan will also allow you to set the timing of planting and planting; when you write the latter, think about doing parallel crops; you will see that you will have to shift some seedlings. Indeed,
Finally, it will serve to remind you of the history of your plantations which will be useful for organizing crop rotation.
Prepare the terrain
Finally comes the concrete phase: to prepare the ground. Most of the time, creating a vegetable garden means cultivating an abandoned area (read: Clearing a fallow land ), which involves clearing and digging. The ideal is to be able to mow flush (the brush cutter can be useful!) During the summer, then during October, pass the tiller to “break” the grass clump. For small areas, the ground can be just grilled, removing hand roots and pebbles.
Cover with silage tarps, cardboard, and mulch. In early spring, discover your land. After a last pass of grelinette , it will be ready to be cultivated. (See ” Preparing the soil before sowing or planting “).
Heap of compost
- A plant remains accessible if it is located less than 60 cm from you, an arm length! Think about it when you define the width of your ranks.
- Protect walkways with planks, slabs, thick mulch, or even green manure (clover) to prevent soil compaction
- Plan a place near the kitchen garden to make your compost (start it as soon as possible)
- Do not walk in your garden after a downpour, it mows the soil and promotes the development of “bad” herbs
- Plant flowers in the garden plan, they attract the pollinating insects necessary for fruiting
- Think organic: rotation of crops, plant purines, associated crops, auxiliaries, green manures …
How to start a vegetable garden from a lawn or grass?
Grassed soils are not favorable for planting a vegetable garden. Also, to be able to work your piece of ground, it will be necessary to eliminate the troublesome herbs. Sheeting, mulching, and the use of the grelinette are all possible solutions.
Solarize your plot of land
There is a range of processes that have been developed by gardeners to overcome weeds. These methods allow them to work a soil that is too grassy. One of the most effective techniques is the tarpaulin, which is not very ecological, but gives a more than satisfactory result. The idea is to install a black tarp on the ground that will be used to create a kitchen garden.
It is necessary to fix correctly the ends of the tarpaulin so that it does not yield under the effect of the wind. Obtaining a result can last between 2 to 6 months depending on weather conditions. The resulting soil is devoid of grass, it has a high temperature, and is particularly flexible. If you plan to seed, simply add compost and grin. If it is a question of a plantation, create holes then add the compost.
Make a mulching
Another particularly popular technique for removing unwanted weeds from a field is mulching. This process can stifle all the greenery and stem its development. It simply involves laying a layer of organic material on the piece of land that you want to work on. Several types of organic matter can be used such as straw, dead leaves, BRF (Ramal Fragmented Wood), or hay.
It is also possible to use cardboard that contains no tape or ink and is brown in color. At least one layer of 20 cm is needed so that the vegetation can not penetrate the mulch. With this technique, we create a kind of screen that prevents the penetration of light and thus the development of vegetation.
Return the earth
The last technique is simply to work the land. The operation is to be carried out in the spring for sandy soils and in the fall for heavy soils. The idea is to use a grelinette. It allows to uproot weeds. After drying, add the compost. Repeat the operation perpendicular to the first pass while making sure to bury the teeth of the tool. Add some compost and then pass the grelinette again. If the area to be worked is large, it is wiser to use a tiller or tiller.