Growing Vegies in a Warm Climate
Many people would like the chance to grow their own fruit and vegetables but are turned off by the fact that time and chemicals are usually essential. With proper planning and variety selection, you can reduce the effort necessary to obtain home grown produce and reduce chemical use at the same time.
What you grow can effect maintenance requirements. There are varieties more disease resistant which means there will be less need to spray chemicals. This saves both time and the use of expensive chemicals.
THE VEGETABLE GARDEN - IDEAS FOR EASY CARE
*The site is important as it must provide the plants with maximum sunlight, wind and frost protection, good drainage and easy access. Basically a site in full sun on a gentle north-easterly slope is the ideal, though very few actually have this. There is always room and a suitable location in everyone's property.
*Soil is of the upmost importance. It must be fertile, well drained, high in organic matter and high in soil microbe activity.
If you are prepared to work hard initially to work the soil up, it will save a lot of time later.
If your soil is clayey, you have the options to :
- make a raised vege patch surrounded by sleepers or other material then filled with premium grade organic soil,
- cultivate gypsum throughout the soil, or add a liquid conditioner (eg. Claybreaker), then add plenty of organic compost.
- make a raised no-dig vegetable patch using compost and mulch.
If your soil is naturally sandy, your options may be:
- add plenty of compost and other matter,
- add a soil wetter and compost,
- buy in top quality organic soil.
High levels of compost and organic matter can reduce the need for fertilisers and regular watering.
If the soil is low in nutrition or low in organic matter you will need to fertilise it. Start by applying a complete fertiliser that contains all the major and minor nutrients. If you do not use a complete fertiliser your plants may suffer from nutritional deficiencies. As your plants grow during the season you may still need to apply fertiliser depending on the crops grown.
A Ph reading will provide you with much information as to the health of the soil. The reading can indicate the availability of nutrients to your vegetables. The optimum range is generally regarded as between 6.0 and 7.0 though plants can survive outside that range. Some plants even prefer outside that range. Should your soil Ph be low (ie. acidic) then you can add garden lime or dolomite to bring the Ph up. If your soil is high (ie. alkaline) you can use flowers of sulphur or aluminium sulphate to bring the Ph down.
*Edge the vege patch somehow. This can be by using sleepers, concrete blocks or any similar material, or simply by making a trench in between where you walk and where the plants grow (this later option does require more care though).
* To reduce the incidence of weeds throughout the vege patch, liberally cover the entire surface with a mulch. Bark is not suitable. Sugar cane mulch, straw, hay, decomposed sawdust are all good alternatives.
* The depth, or width, of the bed is important. If it is too wide it will be difficult to harvest your vegetables and you may possibly trample some in the process. The best width should allow you to be able to reach all plants from one or the other side (ie. about 1 m).
* Birds can be pests in vege gardens. It may be necessary to construct some anti-bird device such as wire screen, scarecrow, eagle kite, etc.
* Fast growing vegetables may require less time in the garden in order to reap the benefits of harvest. A selection of fast growing vegies include: beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, celery, cucumbers, Kohl Rabi, leek (13-15 weeks), lettuce (40-85 days to harvest), peas, radish (5-6 weeks), silverbeet, zucchini/mallows.
* Vegetables that allow for continual harvesting or long lasting plants may also be good in that you do not have to harvest at a particular date and that the crop will not need replanting. Some vegetables that exhibit these characteristics include:
- Asparagus picked after their third year for up to 12 years
- Cassava continual harvest in warm areas
- Corn harvest period can extend over a few weeks
- Kohl Rabi will last long if picked regularly
- Potatoes if grown in a tub, can have continual harvesting
- Rhubarb will last for 4-10 years
- Silverbeet will last long if picked regularly
- Sea Kale needs continual picking
- Spinach as for silverbeet
- Taro continual harvesting in warm areas
- Tomatoes have a long harvesting period
Want to Learn More?
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