Beginners or experienced, in your garden, on a terrace or even a balcony, follow the advice of our experts for a successful vegetable garden. Planting, pruning and harvesting your own fruits and vegetables will no longer hold any secrets for you!
Good news: you don’t have to be an expert to grow your own vegetables! To have or not to have a green thumb does not exist in gardening, and in particular in the vegetable garden. There is nothing magic except patience and perseverance. Get rid of this misconception, and put on gloves, boots and a straw hat to embark on a real agriculture and biodiversity project. “The green thumb is love for the plant. We observe it and we simply take care of it” explains Benoît Porta, head of plant products at Gamm Vert.
In recent years, things have changed a lot, and the French are embarking on smaller vegetable gardens, even in a so-called “urban” model. For Pascal Laforge, store marketing manager at Truffaut, “previously, the vegetable garden was mainly reserved for people who own a garden. Today anyone can grow tomatoes or herbs on a balcony or a window rail. Even simpler, a crate, felt, potting soil, and you organize your first plantings. If you succeed so much the better, if you forgot to water or put in the shade you only lose about twenty euros. You have to go quietly and, gradually, it will generate the desire to do more and better, to arrive at a form of passion “.
The vegetable garden, a fad?
Craze for organic products, refusal of pesticides, preservation of biodiversity … So many subjects that are part of a reflection on the health of our planet, but also ours. Is cultivating your vegetable garden an additional step in this awareness or just a fad?
For Benoît Porta, this trend will last. “There are a desire for well-being with a real return to basics, values, and personal satisfaction in producing and eating the fruit of one’s labor “.
In recent years, large cities (Paris, New York, Sydney, etc.) have seen urban vegetable gardens. In lack of greenery, but especially space, city dwellers invest the roofs, urban wastelands, terraces, balconies and even railings … We plant and we pick our own radishes, tomatoes, strawberries and other aromatic herbs.
According to the ObSoCO study (February 2020), 57% of French people had gardened in the past 12 months, and 38% of them have a vegetable garden. Today, there is no longer any need to have a piece of land, therefore, there are many alternatives such as vegetable patches, planters, high up or to be placed on a railing, geotextile bags … to create your vegetable garden. In the garden or in town, here are some tips to get you started!
How to create your vegetable garden?
How to create your vegetable garden? © Castorama
“Growing fruits and vegetables does not necessarily require practice but rather logic” assures Ronan Humeau, plant expert at Jardiland. You learn while having fun, and for that there are only rules to know.
- Patience. This is the main virtue of the gardener. You shouldn’t go too fast, or overdo it.
- Organize your garden. Take the time to look at the space you have, check its exposure during the day, analyze the quality of the soil, or even visualize the location of the water tap to avoid traveling for miles. The ground must be bright, well exposed and sheltered from the wind. Gamm Vert delivers a little additional tip: “collect a handful of soil as a sample, then have it analyzed in a garden center to know the soil’s pH. You can then enrich your soil if necessary, with organic matter for example (manure , compost for vegetable garden …) “.
- How much time can I devote to my vegetable garden? With the beautiful days, the desire to go out and garden is urgent. Planting your first tomatoes, growing aromatics … all of this can be done in a weekend, but do you really have the time (and the inclination) to repot, clean, water regularly and harvest, but also to weed, return the earth …
- Define the location of your vegetable garden. After finding the answers to these questions, you can start creating your vegetable garden, in your garden if you live in the countryside, on your terrace, or on your balcony if you live in the city. Either way, determine how much area you want to dedicate to it.
How to create an urban vegetable garden?
How to create an urban vegetable garden? © Bacsac / Jérôme Galland
For this type of vegetable garden, it is the container that will be essential. This must absolutely be insulating for keep the necessary humidity in the earth. Choose materials such as wood or a geotextile fabric. You can also use a mulch to chase away weeds, but also to prevent invasions of slugs and snails.
For beginners, start with a fun and easy planting, such as radish (they only take 18 days to go from the garden to the plate), summer vegetables in plants (tomato, zucchini, carrot, pepper), aromatic herbs, and why not a few strawberries.
You can also grow some fruit trees in miniature version (the mini cherry tree is popular!), Or citrus fruits. Lemon, orange, kumquat are suitable for growing in pots, but they will have to be brought in in winter when temperatures drop below -5 °.
Good to know : why plants and not seeds? “To avoid waste, because you always have more in a bag of seeds than you need” indicates Benoît Porta.
How to properly maintain your vegetable garden?
How to properly maintain your vegetable garden? © Jardiland
First of all, you have to listen to your vegetable garden and know how to observe it. A plant is a living being that needs water and nutrients. A tomato plant that has its head tilted down means it is thirsty. Conversely, a plant that turns yellow and no longer grows is a sign of too much watering.
If it’s not a water problem, it’s a nutrient deficiency. In this case, it will be necessary to add organic fertilizer. By observing the plant, it is possible to intervene before it is too late.
Tips from the pros
– To choose the location of your portager, see where the wild plants grow. You will thus know if your vegetable garden will be able to develop or not. For example, if you have nettles in the back of the garden, your vegetable garden will do well there. In fact, nettles like places rich in organic matter and compost. Conversely, if you see bindweed, the soil is very clayey.
– The sausage test will give you an indication of the nature of your soil. It consists of picking up a little damp earth in your hand and shaping it into a sausage. If the latter remains in place, it is because the soil is clayey, it will then be necessary to introduce sand to drain it. If it crumbles, the earth is sandy. It should be enriched with more humus.
– To save water, water in the morning or evening. Evaporation will be less. You can also install a rainwater collector and keep this water for watering.
– To keep humidity and reduce watering, cover the soil with mulch. The chips (buckwheat or wood bark) naturally break down and form compost. Weeds will also have difficulty establishing themselves. Weeding work will therefore be less frequent. Another advantage: mulching protects the microorganisms present in the soil.
– To protect your crops, sprinkle ash around your plants. You can also plant a glass close to the ground and pour beer into it to ward off snails, which are fond of young shoots. The hedgehog is also a good companion in the vegetable garden: it is fond of slugs and insects.
– An insect hotel will also promote biodiversity thanks to the auxiliaries. These small insects act as predators on pests.
– Fallow flowers also attract auxiliary insects, like the ladybird which eats 200 aphids a day, or pollinating insects like the bee and the bumblebee. Nasturtiums attract aphids to themselves, while marigolds will repel them.
Which soil to choose for your vegetable garden?
Which soil to choose for your vegetable garden? © Gamm Vert
There is no one type of soil, but several. There are for vegetable gardens and for each type of planting (bins or full ground). Its composition will therefore be different depending on the location. You can also use topsoil that you mix with the gardener’s soil to add something more consistent. This mixture helps to retain water more easily.
Regarding small plantations, it is also necessary think about renewing or amending the earth. A plant indeed needs food to grow, so the earth tends to get poorer over time, especially on a small area. It will therefore be necessary to provide it with new nutrients with compost or natural fertilizer for example.
Also consider crop rotation. If we always plant the same plants in the same places, the soil will become impoverished more quickly. It is therefore advisable to vary the seeds.
What calendar in the vegetable garden?
What calendar in the vegetable garden? © Botanic
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