How to grow garden
How to Grow Avocados How to Grow Avocados
Learn how to grow Avocados with our easy step by step guide. Read more here.
How to grow Strawberries How to grow Strawberries
Learn how to grow your own Strawberries with our step by step guide.
How to grow Courgette How to grow Courgette
Courgette aka Zucchini are a part of the wider marrow family, fast and easy to grow the are a popular summer crop. Easily stored as can be frozen for use in hearty winter soups and stews.
How to grow Chinese Cabbage How to grow Chinese Cabbage
Looking to get adventurous in the vegetable garden this summer why not plant some Chinese cabbage or sometimes referred to as celery cabbage, snow cabbage, peking cabbage or more commonly pak choi or bok choy.
How to grow Chillies How to grow Chillies
Chillies are a very fussy crop to grow. But if you are like us here at how to grow gardening you will love the pleasure that is obtained by growing your own Chillies. Nothing beats using them in the kitchen fresh from the garden! Or if you are like me and your eyes are bigger than your stomach using them year round from the freezer.
How to grow Verbena How to grow Verbena
Learn how to grow Verbena with our step by step guide.
How to grow Gladioli How to grow Gladioli
Learn How to grow Gladioli with our easy step by step guide.
How to grow Mesculun Salad Greens How to grow Mesculun Salad Greens
Learn how to grow Mesculun Salad Greens with our easy step by step guide.
How to grow Lilies How to grow Lilies
Learn How to grow Lilies with our easy step by step guide.
How to grow Daphne How to grow Daphne
Learn how to grow Daphne with our simple step by step guide.
How to grow Mustard Greens How to grow Mustard Greens
Learn how to grow Mustard Greens with our simple step by step guide. Mustard greens, also known as Indian mustard, Chinese mustard and leaf mustard, is a species of mustard plant.
How to grow Onions How to grow Onions
Learn how to grow Onions with our simple step by step guide. The onion is the one of the most widely cultivated and popular plants
How to grow Polyanthus How to grow Polyanthus
Learn how to grow Polyanthus with our simple detailed guide.
How to grow Shallots How to grow Shallots
Learn how to grow Shallots with our easy step by step guide. Shallots, as a variety of onion, taste like common onions, but have a sweeter, milder, richer and more complex flavour.
How to grow Campanula How to grow Campanula
Learn how to grow Campanula's with our easy step by step guide.

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First timers guide to serious vegetable gardening

First timers guide to serious vegetable gardening

First timers guide to serious vegetable gardening.

So as a child I always grew up around a vege garden granddad had a decent plot in a semi-rural area where he grew potatoes, peas, carrots as well as a great selection of raspberries and strawberries we used to steal off the plants ! Dad was more of the I have a small patch in the back yard where he grew tomatoes and a mixture of other vegetables differing season from season. So now that I’m approaching thirty fast I thought this year it was about time I gave it a go myself.

A quick browse of my local hardware store and gardening centre lead me to the conclusion that growing from seed was far more economical than buying seedlings. (Even though my recently received NZ vegetable garden guide stated that for beginners such as myself the purchase of seedlings would be easier) I mean how can you walk past a packet of 150 seeds for $3 to a plant tray of six seedlings for the same price and not think it makes more sense to buy the seeds. The next step in the process was to buy some potting mix sure dirt is dirt eh there can’t be a difference surely they all grow, so I buy the cheapest stuff I can find. Fantastic it only costs $4 for a 20L bag a bargain surely. When I get it home and open up the bag I find that it is hard and solid, at the time I didn't really think about it too much just put it in the pots and trays I have at home and see what happens.

So in the coming days I water the potting mix trying to keep them moist as the book says. Things then start to grow Wahoo! But then heaps of stuff starts to grow and they all look the same? Since I have planted Tomatoes, Onions, Coriander, Basil, Chilli Plants, Jalapeños, Pansy's, Sunflowers and Swan Plants I am starting to wonder why all the seedlings are looking the same? Yes dam it I have got what I paid for yet again! The potting mix is awash with little seedlings of some description since I am no expert gardener I shall call them weeds. They are sprouting everywhere in every pot and seed tray I have tried to plant not to mention the fact the potting mix is so heavy and think no seeds are ever going to get thru to see sunlight.

Back to the hardware store again and round two for me in the gardening isle. This is where I discover a seedling potting mix, it feels lighter and the packet says Yates Black Magic seed raising mix is specially formulated for trouble free seed germination and prorogation of cuttings. Perfect this is just what I need after a few weeks of taking my daughter out to water the seeds everyday and see nothing appearing...maybe this seed raising mix can come to the party and save my bacon! Now at the same time I have been reading in my beginners guide to vegetable gardening book that no true vegetable gardener should not have a compost heap of some description. I have never been a fan of compost in fact I have never really thought about it, my old man was never a compost man but I do remember standing round the BBQ last Christmas and my uncle saying you gotta have a compost heap. I have a big 44 gallon drum sitting around next to the garage doing not much I might have to give this a try.

 The book and the mass of gardening related websites I have read so far tell me that for best results the compost needs to be turned frequently. I have a plan! If I get out my trusty grinder which never gets enough use and cut a hole in the side of the drum and weld the ends closed, then put a rod through the middle and attach it to some kind of stand I’m in business! But bugger the bottom of the drum has rusted out on to plan B. I figure I can still utilise the drum but I will just have to regularly turn the compost with a garden fork. My daughter has a couple of guinea pigs and a rabbit a little research on the internet tells me that as they are 100% vegetarians there waste can be used to help my compost along fantastic! To get started I mow the lawns and gather some grass clippings together. To this I am adding some soil from the garden all my coffee grinds (which is great cos I have heaps) and from now on all the kitchen waste I can get my hands on. My trusty book tells me to “Avoid plastics and anything contaminated with salt, paint or other chemicals, tough plant materials such as pine needles, cabbage tree leaves, diseased plants and the roots of perennial weeds. Dandelion and couch are nasties in the compost heap, as they will propagate and thrive.” This all seems to make sense to me. A great tip that is making the process easier I found is “Soft weeds from the garden or waste from the trimmings of vegetables can be spread out on the lawn and mowed over with a lawnmower to cut up before adding to the heap.”

 It's been a few weeks now since I started the heap I have been out turning the compost most days with my garden fork. It's amazing to watch the transformation the straw is being broken down and the grass has turned brown is now starting to look like soil. I have been using a few fork full’s here and there to top up the vegetable garden and to "heap" my Potatoes up. It seems to be working well as my Potatoes this year are accelerating away. One "trick" I thought was a good idea but probably not what compost pro's use is too chuck a handful of slow release fertiliser in and also a couple of litres of nitrate mix. Hey I’m not a pro I’m just after a better harvest this year than last so hoping this will work.

In the meantime my other seedlings have been growing along nicely as well. One big lesson this year I have learnt is to not put my chilli plants into the garden until well into summer I planted them mid-spring thinking it was getting warm enough, despite a last ditched effort by covering them with a window pane the two I had in the garden have died, luckily I still have three in pots on my deck which are still growing slowly but steadily. A lot of sites and books have told me not to water the Chilli plants too much but personally I have found that watering them everyday seems to make them grow faster so maybe the key is small lots frequently.

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