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Starting a veggie patch

(10 Posts)
AverageJosephine Wed 04-Jan-17 08:36:03

We bought a small holding with a plan to be a bit self sufficient but 3 yrs and 3 babies later I'm only just managing to get to the toilet alone and get them into coats and out, let alone take care of anything other than babies! But this Spring our family project is to start the veggie patch. I've lots of access to manure and have identified the most fertile spot on the land near the house. What the heck do I do next?

How do I dig it up? How big do I go? And what should I start with? I'm a total amateur. Any advice? Should I do some raised boxes?

80sWaistcoat Wed 04-Jan-17 08:49:37

Cut out a bed in the turf, cover in well rotted manure, and get some seeds...

Potatoes are a great thing to grow as really easy, font require much weed in and digging them up is satisfying.

Plant stuff you like to eat! Peas are great for kids. Grow expensive stuff like herbs. Think about a pokytunnel of greenhouse.

Fruit bushes are great and hassle free .


Is a v good site

shovetheholly Wed 04-Jan-17 09:14:01

I would start with something the size of a half plot allotment - about 120 square metres. This will give you a good amount of work to begin with, should produce a decent crop in the first year, but should be really manageable since you have a lot on your plate with 3 little ones already!

Work out your structure to start with. Are you doing raised beds or more old-fashioned rows? Where will your paths go? Bear in mind that you need to get between plants to weed and crop them, so huge, deep beds with no space to move can quickly become a PITA if you are doing this by hand.

What do you want to grow? Bear in mind that rotating your crops really helps the soil, which also helps the yield - so a mix of heavy feeders, legumes, roots and brassicas is a good idea.

Preparing the ground: since you are up against it in terms of available energy and time, I would do a combination of dig and no-dig. Cover half the ground you're not going to use immediately with cardboard and dump loads of horse manure on top. This will kill the existing weeds and suppress new ones and will rot down over the next few months while you work on the other half. A lot depends on the kind of soil you have here. If it's heavy clay, I would turn it to the depth of a spade, dump compost and manure on top and let the weather help you break it down. You can then fork it over/use a cultivator after a few months before planting things out in March-May. By that time, hopefully the weeds will be dead under the other half, and you can just till the soil and plant into that as well!

Most veg like sun and lots of it, but you can use a slightly more shaded, part-sunny part of your site to plant fruit. The advantage with getting this in early is that many fruit trees and bushes take a couple of years to get going.

bookbook Wed 04-Jan-17 11:03:48

Lots of good advice there .
I would take it slowly - and see what time you actually have. Once up and running, a veg patch is relatively easy to keep on top with. Starting one up is more labour intensive. So I would dig out a bed at a time - so aim for something like 6' x 3' - see how much time /effort it takes. It needs digging over, grass and weeds removing . Don't leave it empty though - cover until its ready for you to sow/plant in it -weeds love any nicely dug area ! You can then assess how much time it takes, and plan accordingly.
So decide what you like to eat. Grow things that are expensive to buy. smile

AverageJosephine Wed 04-Jan-17 11:26:59

You guys are amazing thank you. I have lots of access to horse manure so love the idea of prepping a chunk of the patch with cardboard and manure. The grass where I want to start the bed is quite long unfortunately so I think digging it will be tough but maybe I'll start on a couple of smallish beds with a walkway between and layout the cardboard and manure area beside with the aim to work on that in early summer.

I'm thinking potatoes, carrots, onions and maybe courgettes, sprouts and rhubarb in the first year. See how I go. My mum has run a very successful veg patch for the last 25 yrs and buys hardly anything but she has her own way to do things and you have already given me some new ideas beyond her advice.

I planted apple and pear trees, blackberry, raspberry and gooseberry bushes in a little orchard at the back of the house last year so they are all well underway. Got a good apple crop from some of them last autumn already!

bookbook Wed 04-Jan-17 12:49:43

fruit is already getting going then smile
You could strim the grass perhaps?
Rhubarb is a perennial, so give that a place on its own - it doesn't need to be in your veg patch.
Carrots are actually not that easy to grow I've found - they like nice, loose, well drained soil.
My go to for good crop versus time spent are french beans/runner beans - they don't take up much space up a wigwam. And sprouting broccoli is just about my favourite. They need a bit of space, and some protection from cabbage white butterflies, but provide a lovely fresh crop in the midst of winter, which to me is a bonus!

Chillywhippet Wed 04-Jan-17 21:32:21

I'm new here too and have just moved to a new house with a very small veg patch.
Stuff that I found easy to grow in the past

Mange tout
Rainbow chard
Pumpkin- especially if you have the space you do. Great to grow your own for Halloween

I really struggled with cabbage and cauliflower. We gave up in the end and enjoyed the caterpillar and butterfly farm we created. I just didn't manage to deal with the caterpillars without regular time in the garden when the kids were small.

bookbook Wed 04-Jan-17 21:40:35

Everything in the world likes cabbages and cauliflowers Chilly
btw - we do have an allotment/veg patch thread, and we are all nice on there, promise - we don't bite grin just jump in

Evergreen777 Wed 04-Jan-17 21:47:55

You want to separate perennials from annuals. Rhubarb is a perennial, as are strawberries and quite a few herbs. Put them somewhere permanent. For annuals I tend to grow things which are nice to eat and expensive to buy, so tomatoes, squash, lettuce, courgettes rather than carrots, parsnips or potatoes (except possibly very small early potatoes) Potatoes are fun for kids to help harvest though and also said to be a good choice for a new vegetable patch because the digging they require helps get the soil loosened up

Lua Wed 04-Jan-17 22:17:03

For me, having raised beds help me think about the space better. As, I can sit at home and determine and record what goes in which bed at the beginning of the season, and plan when to clean and how to rotate them (is suggested to avoid having onions, brassicas or potatoes growing in the same spot in subsequent years). It also helps me not despair over weeding. I do half a bed at a time and don't look at the whole thing at once , IYSWIM.

On the other hand it takes time and money to establish them.... so if you are in a hurry or with limited cash, forget about raised beds and just cut some squares for potatoes, beans and courgettes!

I also second the squash/pumpkin suggestion. No need to dig the whole bed. Just make a big hole in the ground, and put loads of manure. Place is you plant on top and that's it!

I love my fruits because they are expensive to buy and sometimes hard to get all together. I also love them because they are perennials, so you can plant and forget about them (except for keeping the weeds at bay and fertilizing twice a year). Raspberries, gooseberries, boysenberries, small apple trees, rhubarb.Yum, can hardly wait for next spring!

I would go slow and conquer a bit more every season, otherwise it can get a bit overwhelming! Enjoy it! I love it! Is my therapy!

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