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How to prepare a vegetable bed

How to prepare a vegetable bed

Give your new veg patch the best chance of producing a bountiful harvest by taking the time to prepare it properly. To help you on your way, here’s our step-by-step guide to preparing a veg patch – everything you need to know to sow the seeds of veg growing success.

Choose your plot
A sunny but sheltered spot is ideal for growing healthy veg.
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Veggies need plenty of sun to help them grow, so choose a patch of ground that gets lots of light. As a rule of thumb, an area you think would be great for sunbathing is also an ideal spot for growing your own.

Make sure there’s shelter from the wind which can weaken or break stems, or even burn fragile leaves. If there’s no wall or hedge surrounding your prospective veg patch, consider putting up a fence. Willow hurdles are a cheap, flexible, and environmentally friendly way to screen a veg plot.

Mark up
A great way to mark out your plot is to use railway sleepers.
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Found a sheltered spot that gets at least five hours of sunshine per day? Great. Now mark out a square or rectangle to the size you want. To make sure your sides are straight, set stakes at the corners and run garden twine between them. Check your right angles by measuring the diagonals and adjusting as necessary.

Now cut any turf with a sharp spade and remove. There’s no need to throw turf away – just knock the soil off and compost it, remembering to place it on the pile with the roots facing up so that it can’t regrow.

Turn over
A little hard graft at the start saves time later.
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Use a garden fork to dig up and turn over the soil to a depth of about one spade head. You’ll need to thoroughly loosen the soil, which will bulk out with turning. That’s fine, it just means you’re getting plenty of air into the soil.

At this point, you should do your best to remove all the weeds. Always take the plant out by the roots or it may simply regrow. A little bit of elbow grease now will save you time and effort later.

Add compost
Making your own compost is simple and cost-effective.
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All soil types benefit from a regular application of compost. Organic material helps sandy soils to retain water, and gives clay soils a lighter consistency to prevent waterlogging.

Add at least one bag of compost to your veg plot and dig it in thoroughly. If you’ve made your own home compost, so much the better – if not, beginning your journey into veg growing is the perfect time to start.

Get planting
Planting in spacious rows gives your veg room to flourish.
Image source: lovelyday12/Shutterstock

Now you’ve prepared your veg plot, it’s time to sow your seeds. Do read the back of each packet for details about when and how to sow, and don’t forget to label your rows so you know what you have growing and where.

Whether you’re growing your veg from seed, seedlings, or from plug plants from your local garden centre, it’s vital to ensure you leave enough space between plants to allow for growth and to ensure they don’t compete with one another for water and nutrients.

How to prepare a vegetable bed for planting

  • • Choose a sunny patch of ground that’s sheltered from the wind.
  • • Mark out the plot.
  • • Using a spade, remove the turf.
  • • Break up the soil with a fork, to a depth of one spade head.
  • • Dig in compost.
  • • Sow your seeds or plant your plugs, leaving enough space between plants to allow for healthy growth.

Growing your own is a great way to access cheap, nutritious fruit and veg. Now you have the basics to get you started, it’s time to get outside and start digging.

Lead image: Shutterstock

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