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GARDENING

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COUNTRY GARDENS

Planning Your Garden

By Annabel Langbein

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Growing Vegetables

It all starts with a plan!

A verdant vegetable garden gives a home a well-loved feel – and can form the foundation of interesting, fresh and nutritious meals as well.

Before you head to the garden centre, sketch a rough plan on paper, taking into consideration existing plants you want to keep, play areas for children, pathways, clotheslines and extra features to add elements of fun to your garden, such as bird baths, fountains and sculptures.

When deciding where your vegetable garden beds should go, choose a sunny, well-drained area of the garden that’s sheltered from high winds. You’ll want your vegetable beds, and especially your herb garden, close to the house so you can easily nip out and load up your basket for dinner. Fruit trees can be further afield so they don’t block the sun into your home. Also think about how the garden will look from inside the house.

Make sure you leave enough space around your plants – some, such as zucchini and pumpkin, like to stretch out and could choke other plants. Read the instructions that come with plants or seed packets before you commit.

A good starting point for a herb garden would be parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, a rosemary bush and a bay tree (these grow quite large). Add basil in the summer months. Mint should be contained in a pot or planter box lest it take over the garden, but requires next to no input from you and is a fast grower. (Nearly) instant gratification.

When choosing which vegetables to grow, concentrate on those you and your family like to eat. If you’re big salad eaters, you could simply plant a salad garden, which would have you eating crisp rocket, buttercrunch, cos, baby carrots, radish and spring onions most nights though summer and autumn. There’s little point in experimenting with a host of plants if you have simple tastes.

If you’re a first-time gardener, choose easy-to-grow plants such as beans, zucchini, peas, lettuce, spinach and silver beet, radishes and strawberries. Tomatoes are virtually foolproof, they are very productive, most people like them and they have countless delicious uses.

If you have limited space, concentrate on vegetables and fruits that are best eaten straight from the plant, such as peas in the pod, and those that are expensive to buy. You’ll soon learn which work well in your conditions, and you can always try new varieties next year!

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