You’ve probably seen our guide to growing fruit and vegetables and had a fun time last year putting it to the test with the kids. During the winter months, your vegetable patch has probably been neglected so what steps do you need to take to get it ready for growing again?
Step 1 – Get rid of weeds and dead plants
We don’t blame you for not wanting to drag the kids out into the freezing cold to pull up weeds but, as the weather gets a little better, it’s a task that will need doing.
Wrap up the little ones and get in the garden, teaching them the difference between weeds, grass and plants you’d actually like in the garden. A small rake or fork can help them dig the weeds out and gives them a great excuse to get muddy.
Step 2 – Know your soil type
This is an important step so you know what you need to add to your soil to make it the best quality for your vegetables.
If you have clay soil, you may want to add some sharp sand to improve the structure, breaking down large lumps and improving drainage. Introduce lots of compost to make it easier to turn and add extra nutrients for your produce.
Adding compost to light soil will help it hold moisture and the all-important nutrients, giving it more bulk ready for your vegetables to be planted. Good compost is readily available in garden centres.
Step 3 – Turn your soil
When adding compost to your soil, you can turn it over to get the compost mixed in. This will help plant roots to bed in and penetrate the soil. This isn’t essential, but it’s another excuse for the children to get their spades and forks out, digging in the mud.
The alternative is spreading a layer of compost, between 1-2 inches deep across the top of your soil and planting directly into this.
Step 4 – Spread mulch
Mulch will keep the weeds away and retain moisture in your soil so you won’t need to water as often. The other benefit is it will continue to add nutrients as it breaks down over time.
There’s plenty of mulch options out there, but a cheap and affordable method is laying a thick layer of newspaper for weed control, followed by a layer of straw, grass clippings or leaves. Let the kids get their hands dirty by throwing down the mulch.
Stick to a lightweight mulch as anything too heavy will make planting tricky. The lightweight options mentioned above will do a grand job at keeping the weeds away and improving the success rate of your vegetable growing efforts.
Get all of this done and you’re in for a fruitful (get it) harvest, which is sure to get your children interested in eating their homegrown produce. Now it’s time to use the vegetable growing guide and start planting!