Vegetable gardening isn't for sissies

Organic vegetable gardens are all the rage. It's not just about providing nourishment for your family and savings on your grocery bill; it's fashionable. Admittedly, when I created my first potager garden, I wasn't particularly interested in the nourishment part, I just wanted it to look pretty. I am all about aesthetics and a potager garden appealed to my senses. I love wood. Seasonal flowers. And, watching things grow. It ticked all the boxes. 


What I didn't know was that vegetable gardens take time. More time than tending even a rose garden. Constant vigilance is how I think of it now. You have to plan what you're going to plant, where you're going to plant it, and what you're going to plant it next to. You have to think about your soil. What nutrients do different vegetables need. What are their water requirements. You have to find ways to kill nasty bugs without using toxic pesticides. You have to harvest regularly, make sure it gets enough light. You have to fertilise organically. Jeez. The list is endless. So my advice to you is be prepared to work hard. Or hire someone to do it for you. 

Companion planting with herbs and edible flowers is definitely the way to go. This natural method of controlling pests, disease and weeds helps to eliminate the need for pesticides, but it is not foolproof. Pair plants that have the same moisture, nutrient and sun needs. Basil and tomatoes are great companions. They love hot weather, lots of sunlight, rich soil and moisture. Basil is great for repelling milkweed insects, aphids,and mosquitoes and it acts as a fungicide. Soil borne diseases are most often caused by fungi and nematodes (round or thread worms). Dahlias and white marigolds repel nematodes. They're pretty and edible, so put them in. Other tomato companion plants are carrots, parsley, asparagus, alliums (leeks, onions, shallots), borage and celery. 

I am an advocate of watering your own garden.  I find it therapeutic. You get to learn the rhythm of your garden. The different patterns that occur.You discover hidden treasures buried under bigger plants, you see what needs attending to and you don't waste water. But, for busy people and large gardens it is often a trial. Drip irrigation systems are best for vegetable gardens, but make sure the roots of your vegetables are being watered. Watering from above can cause leaf diseases and encourage pests to attack the plants. As I said in the beginning, vegetable gardening is not for sissies.