After last week article, you know the main personal features needed for starting your own vegetable garden. Ok, that’s perfect! Now we continue the path into this special world, always hand in hand with Giulia and let her tell us more about the spaces needed for a vegetable garden and how to organise it. Where to start from? But before, Giulia, tell us…
Why starting a vegetable garden?
Why? Because for me it’s an enchanting world, and also because nowadays it may be convenient for anybody. For example, during the pandemic, taking care of our vegetable garden literally saved us. It was oxygen for our lungs and it helped to free our minds. I speak using the plural form because I share this passion with my dad, the one that guides me, teaches so much to me and fixes up my mistakes. We are a team, sometimes a bit messy, other times well planned, but always with much commitment and will to learn day by day. And then, you know, when you do something in good company it’s always nicer and more exciting.
How to handle the spaces?
Let’s start with a more practical part. First of all, I want to point out that I am still studying much. I have been reading much, I have been mistaking much too and I have been learning much from my dad. This article has been an occasion to go deeper in details that I was taking for granted or that I was doing but without knowing the deep reason. I hope that what you’re reading will be helpful for you too. Ready, set, go!
How much space do we need for a vegetable garden?
How much space do we need for a real vegetable garden or even just to start with something? Well, there are no rules! Big plans will need of course bigger spaces, more time and more energy, but you can also start simpy slowly according to the available space too. If we want to create a vegetable garden enough to feed a family, we don’t need such a huge one. In case our plan includes fruit trees, we will have to consider also the space “stolen” from the shadow that they will create. Since vegetables need lights continuously, under the trees’shadow we won’t be able to plant much.
Where can we cultivate?
According to the space available, cultivations may be :
- on a common ground: and especially in this case, first of all, we have to understand which kind of ground we have, this is the foundation from which our plants will grow so it’s essential to know its features so as to organise everything accordingly. Grounds can be:
- clayish ground: since it’s heavy and compact, it stocks water and nutritients
- sandy ground: it’s light and friable, it drains well but it gets dry faster and losing nutritients
- mixed ground (sand, loam and clay): it’s the best one to drain and to keep the nutritients in the ground. In our vegetable garden we have a more sandy ground mixed with compost and ground from the region. It’s very easy to work with it and quite fertile. Therefore, many plants are welcomed: any kind of lettuce grows well, but also crucifers, valerian, asparagus and fennels. We manage to produce tomatoes, courgettes, peppers as well.
Do you know what shows the good quality of the ground?
A thing that makes you understand that yours is a good quality ground is the presence of earthworms. They leave in the subsoil and they come up to the surface to eat what is on the soil. Their movement creates some tunnels that turn over the ground that is eaten, elaborating by their intestine and later expelled. This all makes the ground more fertile. Don’t you find it crazy??
When is it better to take care of the ground?
The best period to work with the ground is for sure autumn or end of winter, this is the time in which the ground is softer and with less water. Ground must be worked with compost and let it rest before starting with the cultivations. When you take care of your ground, don’t forget to plan also the strategical paths where to walk, this is important to avoid to press the ground and make the shoes dirty, especially when it rains. Another thing to consider is the choice of adding one or more greenhouses. These helps to give a shelter against boiling sun, frost, hailstones, etc In full summer, there may be the risk of sunburnt for leaves and fruits, whereas in winter, the frostburnt. A greenhouse mitigates the external temperature, so as to avoid to damage the vegetables and help to make faster or slower their growth.
Our vegetable garden is mainly at the open air, only a small part is in the greenhouse. This idea is from my dad, following his experience and the primordial survival instinct. An example: imagine if there is a thunderstorm with much hailstones, everything will get damaged and it won’t be possible to fix it up. The sorrow caused by this accident will be compensated by what can be found in the greenhouse. Once in the past there was not this option, everything was lost and that’s it. Now you may wonder: but why not everything under the greenhouse? It’s a matter of additional costs and extra time for building it. Each person has to decide according to their will and availabilty.
- inside a basin: this is very practical for who doesn’t have such a big piece of ground. For example, in big cities people create vegetable gardens or urban gardens on terraces or quite big balconies. They create basins full of grounds, including a good water system. The basins can be created also with recycled materials, such as wooden pallets, metal sheets, bricks or you can buy them already ready. If your ground quality is not the best one, you could opt to use these basins on your piece of land, this will be nice to be seen and also more comfy when you have to take care of it. Our vegetable garden has been placed on the terrace behind our house and created by my dad with the help of his cousin. They have created these basins with water systems and paths for walking around. They decided this not because we didn’t have enough ground, but simply to exploit as much as possible a space that, honestly, we wouldn’t have been able to use, a part from hanging the laundry outside!
- in a pot: this last way is much similar to the basin one and it’s perfect for who doesn’t have so much space. You can put the pots on balconies, terraces or at the house entrance. Basic rule here is to put the plants at the light and open air. The bigger the pots, the higher number of plants can be planted in them. Consider always that between a plant and the other (according to the kind) you need a distance of about 30/40 cm to leave enough space for letting them growing and “eating”. Otherwise it will be hard for them to grow up properly and they will steal to each other the nutritients found in the ground. For tubers and vegetables with roots always opt for long rectangular and deep pots.
And what about you? Which kind of spaces do you have? Which of the 3 methods does it appeal to you? Let us know with a comment here below 🙂 and don’t miss next week article: we’ll find out with Giulia how we can cultivate and she’ll kindly share many many practical suggestions.
Giulia & the Gaeblini