Growing your own veggies can seem like a daunting task and we’re the first to admit, it’s something we’ve previously put in the ‘too hard basket’. But as we recently found out, it’s actually quite easy! With expert tips and tricks from the lovely Ingrid Devlin from Gardening with Ingrid, we’re going to show you how to start a veggie garden.
You don’t have to have lots of time or money, or even a big backyard. Ingrid show us how we can all start small and cheap — you can even start using vegetable scraps from the supermarket to re-grow you own!
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Words by Ingrid Devlin
It’s all about position (and soil)
Let’s talk about how to start a veggie garden! It’s so empowering and brings so much joy to grow your own food from home.
The first thing you need to consider when starting out, is position. Take a walk around your garden, apartment or house, and find the sunniest spot in the garden or the sunniest window. It’s usually the one facing north.
The next step for how to start a veggie garden, is to get yourself some soil. The best is a mix of good quality potting mix and compost or manure. But don’t worry if this all sounds a bit overwhelming!
You’ll still have great success growing veggies by just picking up a bag of vegetable specific or good quality potting mix from your garden centre. This is what I did when I first started growing vegetables in pots.
Shop your veggie garden essentials here
What are you going to plant into?
Now you know where you’re going to grow your veggie garden, it’s time to think about what you’re going to plant them in to.
If it’s going in the garden, an easy and attractive raised bed could be a wine barrel. There are plenty of raised garden bed kits you can assemble yourself available at your local hardware and gardening centres. If you prefer to plant directly into your garden beds, it’s best to add compost and manure to your soil before planting.
For balconies or decking where weight is a consideration, I recommend looking for fibreglass and reusable plastic pots or containers that are lightweight and durable.
If the only space you have is a window sill, fear not! You can still grow veggies in a small pot on a saucer or even upcycle plastic containers by adding drainage holes to the base. In these you can grow lush lettuce and greens as well as plenty of fresh herbs.
The best veggies to get you growing (oops, we mean going 😉 )
Start with something you like to eat. Sounds logical, but lots of people go to the garden centre and pick out all sorts of seedlings they don’t actually enjoy eating.
Now that spring is here, it’s a great time to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis (courgettes) and strawberries. Nothing beats a home grown tomato! When you taste a home grown, vine ripened tomato you won’t want to buy another store bought tomato ever again!
I would also recommend growing basil with your tomatoes as they not only pair well in meals, but basil also helps tomatoes taste sweeter when planted together.
Strawberries, cucumbers and zucchinis are rewarding to grow, producing lots of fruit per plant. Other vegetables that are easy to start with are lettuce, beetroot, spring onions, potatoes and swiss chard.
If you are planning to grow something inside I would recommend growing lettuce and herbs. These are the two things you will rarely ever see me buying from the supermarket as they’re surprisingly easy to grow year round, even on a window sill.
To give yourself a bit of a head start, seedlings are a great option. Once you’ve gained a little more gardening confidence, why not try your hand at seeds? They are much cheaper and are quite easy and fun once you get the hang of them!
How to keep your veggie garden budget friendly
There is absolutely no need to spend hundreds of dollars setting up a vegetable garden! Start by upcycling old pots and containers, or plant directly into a small area of your garden.
Another important tip that will save you money in the long run, is to grow vegetables that are in season the month you’re planting them. Be careful as some garden centres will sell vegetables that are not in season. Planting outside the recommended month or season could result in your precious veggie babies dying from the wrong weather conditions.
If you’re unsure what suits your area, I post what to grow each month on my Instagram page which will help you decide what to buy and grow.
Another great budget gardening idea is to make your own compost. You can find our how to guide here — it’s surprisingly easy to make your own with paper and fresh food scraps from your kitchen.
People can get all caught up in buying all sorts of tools and accessories for their new veggie garden, but at the end of the day, for a small container garden all you need is a trowel, a pair of gloves, secateurs and a watering can.
Maintenance tips for how to start a veggie garden
Take a tour
Give your veggie garden a bit of daily love! I like to take my morning cuppa out there and just do a little walk around. Your daily visit will pick up if your veggies need water, help you spot any pests or check if anything needs harvesting.
In spring and summer I water my plants 3 times a week. Less if it’s rained and more if it’s the middle of summer. If you’re unsure, dig a small hole in the soil and if it’s dry 3-5cm below the surface, they need a drink.
Always water in the morning. Watering in the evening may cause your plants to stay wet overnight and this creates the perfect environment for diseases.
Give your vegetables a feed of seaweed liquid fertiliser every 2 to 4 weeks. This helps them absorb nutrients from the soil and gives you stronger, healthier plants.
Keep pests away!
Get onto any pests and diseases as quickly as possible. Like most things in life, prevention is better than treatment. Strong, healthy vegetables are less likely to get pests and diseases.
We hope our how to start a veggie garden article has inspired you to get one growing at your place! If you do, we’d LOVE to see pics! Tag us @stylecuratorau and @gardening.with.ingrid to show us your veggie gardens and what you’re planting.
If you have any gardening articles you’d like to see on Style Curator or maybe a gardening question, drop us a note in the comment section below!
About Ingrid Devlin
Ingrid is a Melbourne Mumma of 2 who’s hobby and passion is her beloved garden. She’s a self-taught gardener who grew up loving the outdoors and spending time gardening with her parents. Ingrid is currently studying horticulture so she certainly knows her way around a veggie patch!
Shop your veggie garden essentials here
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