Setting up Your Vegetable Patch


Ready to start growing? Selecting the perfect site to grow your vegetables is the first step to ensuring a successful harvest.
 

Sun Exposure

Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day therefore you should try to set up your vegetable garden in a sunny location. Vegetables will still grow with less sun, however the results will take longer and the harvest might be smaller. Don't let this dishearten you though, gardening is all about trial and error. You will soon discover what varieties are best suited to your individual growing conditions.

Water

Growing your own food is thirsty work (for the plants, not so much you) so you want to consider your water source when selecting a site. It's no good setting up your veggie patch in the far corner of the backyard if the hose wont reach because you will soon get tired of lugging the watering can all that way to water your plants. Instead you either need to buy a longer hose or select a location that is more within reach.

Raised Garden Beds, Containers or Grow Bags?

The decision regarding what to grow your food in is personal preference and is often dictated by where you are trying to grow and the amount of space available.The following are some options for your consideration:

  • Raised garden beds - These are a favourite at My Urban Patch as not only do they look great but we don't have to worry about growing our food in potentially contaminated soil (remember we live in an inner-city Sydney suburb so who knows what could be lurking in the existing soil on our block). Your local nursery or hardware store is a good place to start if you want to purchase a raised garden bed kit. Alternatively, you could make your own raised garden bed using timber. Bunnings have a good online tutorial about how to make a raised garden bed here, otherwise there are plenty of resources available on the internet.  
  • Containers and pots are another great option for growing your own food. You just need to ensure that the container has drainage holes and is an appropriate size. Our grow guides list a recommended container size for all seed varieties so you don't need to guess.
  • Grow bags - these are a cost effective alternative to pots and come in a variety of sizes. 
Finally, of course you can also use an existing garden bed in your backyard or plant directly in the ground however please consider the condition of the soil and ensure it is safe for growing food before planting anything. 

Soil Preparation

Newbie gardeners often make the mistake of filling their raised garden beds with cheap potting mix and then don't understand why their plants all turn yellow or die. It is important to understand that your home grown vegetables will only be as good as the soil they are growing in so it is important that you setup your garden correctly from the beginning. 

If you are growing in existing garden beds then all you need to do is top them up with organic matter. We recommend topping up the bed with equal parts compost and well rotted manure then use a garden fork to mix it into the top layer of existing soil.

If you are growing in containers or grow bags then fill them with premium potting mix. We recommend mixing a generous handful of compost and well rotted manure into the top half of the pot.

There are two options when it comes to filling a new raised garden bed. Regardless of which option you choose, ensure that you lay some newspaper or cardboard at the bottom to prevent grass and weeds invading your garden bed.

Option 1 is to visit your local nursery and purchase their veggie patch mix. Most nurseries will have one that is a premixed combination of compost, manure and soil. You might still need to add some additional compost and manure however please ask for their advice as each nursery mix is slightly different. 

Option 2 is the 'lasagne method' which can be a more cost effective but time consuming way to fill a raised garden bed. Start with a layer of compost, followed by a layer of sugar cane mulch and then a layer of well rotted manure. Each layer should be approximately 2cm deep with manure as the final layer. Once you have fully filled the bed, use a garden fork to mix the top layers of compost and manure together. 

Note - well rotted manure if available in bags at most nurseries. You can also purchase manure directly from farms but please ensure it is well rotted as otherwise it will harm your plants. 

Finally regardless of how you choose to grow (garden beds, containers or grow bags) the final step is to sprinkle some organic fertiliser and gently work it into the top layer of soil to ensure a strong healthy crop. Refer to the packet instructions regarding the exact quantity required.

Mulch

The final but most important step is to give your garden a good drink of water, then lay a thick layer of mulch on top of your soil. This will help retain moisture during summer and protect the soil from damaging winds in winter. We recommended applying a 3-5cm thick layer of sugar cane mulch. 

Recommended Products

Refer to the recommended products page for a full list of our favourite raised garden beds, grow bags, soil preparation products and mulch.