Have you ever dreamt of having your own vegetable garden at home, where you can grow fresh seasonal vegetables, but don’t know where to start? If you have already read our guide to growing vegetables in the garden or on your balcony, this second article is for you: discover some common mistakes and be prepared to avoid them.
Mistake n.1: Choosing the wrong location
The first step is to choose the right location. Most plants need at least 7 hours of direct sunlight per day, so it’s good to have a south or south-east facing vegetable garden. Be careful, however, not to expose them to too much direct sun, which could ‘burn’ them: if you live in a hot area, it’s better to opt for an East or West position. Take into account any features that may create shade such as trees, walls or buildings, and choose an area sheltered from wind and draughts.
Mistake n.2: Not preparing the ground
The second mistake to avoid is neglecting to prepare the soil. Before planting your vegetables, remember to turn the soil with a spade, removing roots, weeds and stones. Then assess the quality of the soil and correct it by adding compost, sand or clay as required. The ideal soil is one that forms a crumbly ball in your hand: neither too wet nor too dry. Finally, fertilise the soil with organic substances to make it rich and nutritious.
Mistake no.3: disregarding rotation and healthy plant combinations
The third mistake to avoid is planting the same crops in the same place every year or putting plants that don’t get on near to each other. These practices can in fact impoverish the soil, encourage disease and pests, and reduce the harvest. To avoid these problems, rotate crops which are in the same plot every year, following a logical succession according to the nutritional needs of the plants. Also plant those vegetables that help each other together, so as to protect against pests or to enrich the soil. Some examples? Carrots and onions or tomatoes and peas.
Mistake no.4: Poor irrigation
The fourth mistake to avoid is over- or under-watering the plants. Water is essential for plant life, but they must be given in the right amount and at the right time. In general, one should water the vegetable garden in the early morning or late evening when the sun is less intense and the water evaporates less. It is also important to avoid watering the leaves of the plants, which could become diseased or rot. The frequency and quantity of watering depend on the type of plant, the climate and the soil: it’s better to check the soil moisture often with your fingers and only water when dry.