My 6 Secrets For Keeping A Healthy Veg Plot

veg_plot_tipsEver since I retired in Somerset, England, I spent most of my retirement caring for my vegetable garden.

I have loved gardening since I was young, but while I worked in the city as a mechanic, I never had the time or the space for a real veg plot.

Instead, I kept a little herb garden by my kitchen window that my wife would occasionally pick from when seasoning some dishes.

The Best Time Of Year To Plant Your Veggies This Year

veg-timingGrowing vegetables can be a complex hobby as each vegetable has different needs.

When I started planting my vegetables in my Somerset home, I originally assumed that all plant varieties grow at the same time.

I always thought that I should plant them in spring, and then sow them in in autumn.

Adding a Playground to Your Yard

I have a fair amount of space at home considering that I have a yard, a front garden, and a small expanse of farm fields. Since my children practically begged that I make them a playground for Christmas last year, I decided to go ahead and contact some playground suppliers to have them measure out what I needed for a new playground.

Backyard

Adding a playground to your yard is no easy feat, and requires a lot of planning. So, how do you add a playground to your yard?

Make a clearing in your yard
Strawberry YardI am sure that the majority of people have clear yards to begin with, but since I am a vegetable farmer, I had to make a clearing. I actually have a strawberry patch in my yard that was not yielding enough strawberries because it was not getting enough sunlight and the soil drainage in that spot is kind of poor.

I decided that it would be the perfect place to build a playground because there is a lot of space available that is not good for plants anyway. The shade also provides good shelter from the sun. That afternoon, we spent the day picking the last remaining strawberries and digging up the yard.

Choose the correct playground surfacing
Wood ChippingsI asked my playground supplier to help me choose a good surface for my playground. I ended up choosing an eco-friendly material called play bark, which is made of recycled wood chippings. My supplier mentioned that it does mulch over time and will require a fresh layer every few years or so, but I wanted a material that was environmentally friendly and matched the aesthetic of my garden.

Playground and Wood Chips

Wood chips were as natural as you can get and added a soft, slip free surface to the playground. While I did consider a rubber playground carpet, I felt that it simply did not match what I wanted for my children’s playground.

Ask your children what kind of playground they wanted
Playground SetNow comes the fun part: choosing a playground set. Naturally, I wanted a traditional playground set with a slide, a swing, and some bars that you can swing from. However, my children insisted on a modern playground with a chain walk, a curly climber, and some challenging net ladder with a tube slide.

I felt however, that it was not within my price range, so we settled on a different set, one that still featured a swing and a slide, but without a chain walk. We called up the playground supplier and they were able to set it up for us within the day.

My children were absolutely ecstatic, and I liked that it kept them and the dog out of my petunias. My garden looks much better with the playground there in my opinion – it looked beautiful and open. Since then, my children have also started to invite their friends over more often and I was glad to see them running around instead of watching the telly all day.

How I Hurt Myself Recently at Work in My Fields

Gardening ToolSome time ago I actually managed to injure myself rather seriously. It’s not something I’m proud of… not even something I want to brag about really. The truth is that it was less of an accident and more of a careless mistake that should not have happened if I had paid more attention. Which..let’s admit.. I really should have.

That was really a bad mistake on my end. But let’s face it. It already happened and there’s really not much I can do now beyond learning from that experience.

So I bet you’re wondering what happened… Right? If you are then let me tell you… Just kinda brace yourself because it’s pretty bad. Oh don’t try to picture it. I won’t give you a picture of it because even I get a bit woozy just thinking about it.

Basically what happened was I sliced my hand open while I was grabbing one of my tools. It slipped out of my hand and sliced the palm of my hand.

Luckily, I knew how to handle the situation. Here’s how I did it.

Don’t Panic
Panic ButtonThe most important thing to remember is that you should never panic, as panicking will only make things worse for you. When I sliced my hand open it surprised me for sure, in fact I was so shocked that I couldn’t help staring at my hand.

It started bleeding profusely and something kicked in in my head that made me start moving. I immediately shut off the tool I was using and ran for my house, tightly gripping around my wrist in the meantime to at least somewhat stem the flow of the blood.

Importance of First Aid
First Aid CrossThis is where the importance of first aid kicks in. Thankfully I had completed a 3 day first aid course recently, as it allowed me to self treat my cut well enough so that I could stop the flow of blood long enough until my wife got home so that she could drive me to the ER because I felt like I needed stitches. And I did, actually.

Good thing I didn’t force myself to drive with my bad hand, I would have ended up probably getting into an accident. So once I got to the ER and they stitched up my hand, they sent me home and all was well.

Aftercare to Avoid Infection
After the initial care I was given at the emergency room, I was given after care instructions so that I could avoid infection. That made it so that i could not work for a while… which of course was saddening. But I had to give the hand time to heal.

Treating Cuts & Scrapes


I relied on help to make sure that everything that needed to be done was done. And I asked my wife to help me with changing bandages and cleaning up the wound. It’s still healing now, but at least now it’s at a point where I am able to get to work again!

Tips for Watering Your Vegetable Garden

Vegetable GardenI have mentioned before how I use rain water collected from my storm drains to water my plants. It works really well for days that have occasional rains, but there are times when the weather is a bit dryer than usual. While I save a lot of money using rain water, it is sometimes not enough.

For this reason, I have some outside taps fitted at the allotment that I use to water my veggies during the warmer months. This keeps my plants alive and prevents them from wilting, even in a heavy heat wave.

To give you an overview of how I water my plants, here are my tips:

Have taps available outdoors
Outdoor TapI have a few taps located outdoors – one by the side of my home, another in my conservatory, and another located right in the middle of the garden. I hired someone that specialises in bathroom fixtures to do some outdoor work for me. He installed the pipes and the taps.

My garden tap was the easiest, because he just dug a short ditch from the house to the middle of the garden, and laid down a long pipe so that the tap sticks straight out of the ground. Having water so easily accessible for my garden makes a huge difference.

Get a sprinkler system
Garden Sprinkler SystemI actually do not like the idea of electric sprinklers because I feel that all of the extra pipes and wiring give me less space to plant my crops. While electric sprinklers work for grassy areas, it will not work for my deep rooted vegetables, such as my carrots and turnips.

On top of that, an electric sprinkler cannot be moved around. Once you have it installed, you cannot move it around any more, so I feel that they are not versatile enough.

I decided to get a manual sprinkler system that attaches to my outdoor taps using a long hose. This allows me to cycle the water around the garden and water the plants where I really need it.

Get a good watering can
Stainless Watering CanEven though I have water taps and a sprinkler system, I still like to use watering cans. I have a big watering can with a long neck and a very fine head so that I can sprinkle water on plants when I need it.

I use my watering can when I use rain water to water my plants. I also use it when watering my indoor plants and the plants on my windowsill – a sprinkler will only make a mess.

Use compost tea
I use something called compost tea, which I get from my compost heap. I have red compost worms living in my compost heap, and after a few weeks at work, they start producing very fine brown soil. I mix this soil with water, steep it, and then strain it to create compost tea, which I use to water my plants with.

How To Make And Apply Compost Tea

Compost tea is rich in nutrients and my plants and actually works better than using plain old compost. When my plants need an additional boost, I turn off all of the taps and use compost tea instead.

Transporting Fresh Vegetables

I have a very big garden, and sometimes, it gives me a huge yield – more than what my wife and I can consume come harvest season. So during months of plenty, I typically grab all of my extra vegetables and haul them into town to share with friends and family.

I am also friends with the local grocer, who is more than willing to buy my vegetables and herbs from me.

However, as with all small scale food growers, I have trouble keeping the vegetables fresh during transport. Leafy greens and herbs are typically the first to go, followed by berries, which can grow mold practically overnight.

After some researching, I have found some great ways to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh during transport, so that none of the food goes to waste. It is great to present friends and family with beautifully fresh, home grown vegetables. Here are some tips that have worked for me.

Get a vehicle with a lot of space

I am an environmentally conscious individual, so I actually try not to use a car as much as possible. I typically take the bus or ride a bicycle, but with so many vegetables in tow, I need to borrow a spacious vehicle once in a while.

During my last harvest season, I leased a VW Transporter Van from a local auto leasing company. I chose a van because it gives me the space that I need to transport my vegetables without overcrowding them. Overcrowding veggies will cause them to bruise or wilt if done over long periods of time, such as a drive into town.

Cut vegetables with clean shears

When cutting vegetables for harvesting, take clean garden shears. Using dirty shears that are coated with bacteria will only wilt your vegetables faster than they should. This causes problems as cross contamination can ruin an entire batch of fresh vegetables.

Pack vegetables in plastic

I never buy plastic bags because I find that they are not good for the environment. Instead, I just reuse the ones that I already have. I place the vegetables into a bag and remove as much air as I can without crushing the vegetables.

This keeps them clean and fresh. Some of the fruit I wrap in paper before placing in the bags to prevent them from bruising.

Figure out which vegetables and fruit you should wash

Some vegetables need to be washed to keep them clean, while others need to be kept dry. Typically, I wash fruits and gourds to keep them free of molds. Berries are often treated with heat to prevent them from growing mold.

Usually, I just swirl the berries in hot water for 30 seconds. This will not cook the berries but will prevent fungal growth on the outside.

Leafy greens usually have to be kept as dry as possible. I do not wash them when transporting or storing, and only wash them when it is time for me to use them.

Indoor Culinary Herb Gardens

I have been thinking about adding to my indoor garden so that I can make the process of growing and eating my own food much more streamlined. I did mention before that my love for gardening bloomed while I was still just growing herbs on my windowsill.

 

Now that I have more experience and space, I decided to design a herb garden in my bespoke kitchen. I wanted something along the lines of a culinary indoor garden – something that I can use directly for cooking.

 

Meanwhile here’s how to make an Indoor Herb Garden:

 


My new bespoke kitchen has just been renovated, so I have more space than ever to plant new herbs. I even got myself a custom table counter with a built in plant box so that I can easily grow medium sized plants right on the table.

 

The great thing about a bespoke kitchen is that everything is exactly where I want it to be, so it really gives me enough leeway to build the perfect indoor herb garden. If you want to make your own kitchen herb garden, here are some tips to get you started.

 

 

custom-plant-boxes

 

Custom planters and plant boxes

Kitchens tend to have limited space available because of all the appliances and counter tops. It will be a good idea to invest in custom planters and plant boxes.

 

If you have a bespoke kitchen, you can ask your designer to help you create the perfect planters. I chose a design that allowed me to incorporate plants right there on my table top, but I also put together some planters by my window sill. It leaves me with ample amount to plant as many herbs as I need.

 

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Get enough light on your plants

Herbs thankfully do not need too much light to stay alive. Remember that in the wild, many of these plants can be found on the forest floor, which does not get that much sunlight to begin with.

 

Nevertheless, you will need a big, bright window that allows the sun to freely shine into your kitchen. I suggest that herbs that require the most sunlight be placed near the windowsill.

 

indoor-herbs

Choose the best herbs that thrive indoors

My bespoke kitchen is made gorgeous by the many plants that I have grown indoors. If you plan on growing your own herbs to add freshly picked flavors to your meals, I suggest the following plants:

• Basil
• Bay
• Chives
• Parsley
• Dill
• Cilantro
• Rosemary
• Sage
• Marjoram
• Chervil

 

 

regrowing-herbs

Leave some space to regrow cutting

There are many vegetables that you can regrow from cuttings and bulbs. My favorite is of course onions and garlic. All I need is to place a few cloves or bulbs into the soil, and a new bulb sprouts.

 

There are many plants that you can use to regrow from cuttings other than garlic and onions. Hot peppers grow quickly and you can just plant them in the soil for them to sprout by themselves.

 

Fennel on the other hand, needs to have its roots intact, so you just have to cut off the roots and bury them in the soil. Bespoke kitchens are the best places to grow your indoor culinary garden.

Reasons Why Gardening is Basically a Workout

Okay so I’m not the fittest bloke in the land, I’ll admit that. I don’t quite have those six pack abs to die for or those arms more muscular men like to call ‘guns’.

 

I’m not really all that into keeping personally fit—not the way society’s standards dictate anyway. For me keeping fit is being healthy. It’s being able to constantly climb up and down stairs without gasping for breath.

 

And well.. I do like to think that I classify for that because I eat all organically grown food from my own garden, and apart form that… working on your allotment is like having an outdoor gym.

 

So to all those people who have been telling me to start exercising because I need exercise? Well.. this one goes out to you. I’m telling you. Gardening is basically a workout.

 

It may seem simple and relaxed to some people but maybe when they hear gardening they think of trimming rose bushes or mowing the lawn—which are both actually physical work too.

 

Gardening is physical work. And if you want examples as to why it’s actually a work out? Well… read right on, my friend.

gardening

You Have to Carry Heavy Tools

Those who garden probably know that gardening actually involves a lot of lifting. You have to lift heavy tools—shovels, axes, wheelbarrows… and then that doesn’t count the fact that you have to drag heavy sacks of soil and fertilizer around.

 

Of course you could have vehicles and machines to do all the work for you, but I like to do my gardening with love, hard work and perspiration. And let me tell you—spending all day gardening day in and day out leaves one quite drained at the end of the day.

You Have to Walk a Lot

If your allotment is relatively large, as mine is, you are going to have to do a lot of walking. Or alternatively, you can go on a bike. Personally I use my bike with all-terrain wheels and drag a wagon behind me which carries most of the things that I need.

 

Garden-Workouts

 

Often I have to do multiple trips. It’s quite a work out, if I do say so myself! Now I’m pretty sure those who said I need exercise probably are starting to realize that well… I really don’t.

 

Stand, Sit and Bend

As a gardener you are going to find yourself having to stand, sit and bend often. Usually this is a cycle. Not all plants are the same.

 

Not all of them have the same height. Sometimes I find myself even having to get up on a ladder just to reach a few things. And sometimes I even have to climb trees.

 

Of course I actually just let my children harvest the fruit so they can know the meaning of good old labor and work, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that as someone who cares for plants you are going to have to move a lot.

 

And that is basically why I laugh at anyone who tells me I need to join a gym and work out so I can get six pack abs and muscle definition. Nope! No thank you. I’ll do all my exercise in the garden.

 

Take a look at this video about gardening, exercise and nutrition:

A Bit of Sad News Today—and A Reminder to Stay Safe

I hate being the bearer of bad news but I do have a bit of it to share… but before I go ahead and get right into it I first want to remind you that I have posted some time ago about keeping your garden safe. Please do have a read, I think you might find it very much useful.

The following blog post, or well whatever else you read information to that post. Here, can then be taken as complementary I know that I was advising you all to keep your gardens safe and secure, and well… apparently for good reason.

I keep all my tools in a shed, but I wasn’t really locking it because I knew that I lived in a nice, safe neighborhood in a nice, safe town.

Here’s a few good tips to keep your home safe from burglars:


I had thought that people would not do anything remotely resembling thievery. But apparently, I was wrong. And yes…this is the bad news. Perhaps to you it’s not such a big deal, but to me…well.

I lost not just money when my tools were stolen right from under my nose. I lost a lot of things that had sentimental value to me too, things that were passed on through the generations.

Yes. Someone broke into my shed and stole a lot of my tools. For what reason, I can’t be sure. But they also trampled all over my plants, and my beloved petunias.

locksmith-image

So what was the next logical thing to do?

Well… it’s safe to say that I was very upset. I wanted to go around waving accusations at people who were despicable enough to steal my tools.

Unfortunately, those little accusations will do nothing at all to get anything back. I have no way of knowing who it was. So instead of making a big fuss, I just started buying new tools, one by one, to replace my old ones.

I just took it as a new little lesson I suppose—an expensive one. Even if you think that you live somewhere safe, it’s important you still lock your doors. I just thank the heavens that I had locked my house doors—what if the thief decided to try burgling my home?

garden-fence-image

Fortify Your ‘Defenses’

If you are worried about theft of your possessions, as I most definitely am now…well, it may be a good idea for you to fortify your shed. I personally fortified mine with more wood and a bit of metal, to make it harder for anyone to just knock it down and steal anything inside.

It may be overdoing it a bit, but I figured in the end I would also be protecting my tools from weather and the elements. And of course I looked up a locksmith to make my shed secure. And by secure I mean really secure!!

I hope that you will never have to deal with this situation, my friend—it’s one I would not wish on anyone.

Finding a Company that Can Make You a Great Garden Shed

 

 

I wanted to get a new garden shed because the old wooden one that I was using for the past couple years has started rotting away and becoming unstable.  I needed something that would last longer, while still being small and lightweight enough to work as a good garden shed.

 

After some deliberation, I have decided to get a new garden shed that was made with a combination of weather proof, treated wood and cut sheet metal. This way, my garden shed would be better at withstanding the elements while still being easy to move around if I need it to. I wanted a garden shed that I could pick up with the help of someone else and moved to a better location if I needed it to.

 

Since I already drafted my design, I now needed a company that could cut sheet metal with precision according to my specifications.  I wanted a company that had experience not only in cutting sheet metal to size but also knew their way around basic architecture.

 

On the other hand here is a compilation of Garden Shed Ideas. Enjoy:

 


Below is the criteria that I put together for a company that can get me the precision sheet metal that I need. Choosing a manufacturer can be tricky, especially if you wanted to save money like I did.

 

My garden shed will be a do-it-yourself, customised home project that is designed specifically to fit into my garden space. That is why I  needed custom cut sheet metal that matches my exact measurements, rather than simply buying pre-fabricated metal sheets at a hardware store or home depot.

 

Affordable

affordable-image-1

Naturally, I wanted cut sheet metal that was affordable. I know just how many companies tend to overprice their custom cut sheet metal so I wanted something that was affordable, or at least had relatively lower prices compared to other companies.

 

Good quality metal sheeting

garden-shed-2

Since my metal sheeting will be used for building my garden shed, I needed high quality metal sheeting that can withstand the weather. This means that it should be made of a stainless, rust free material that will not oxidize even if exposed to the rain and the cold.

 

During the late fall and winter, my home is also pelted with ice, so my shed needed metal that was of a sufficient hardness so that the hail will not dent it too much.

 

Precision custom cuts

garden-shed-1

I need a company that can do precision custom cuts on its sheet metal based on what I need. They should have the latest laser or die cutting technology available that will give me clean, precise cuts. I want the edge to be clean so that I can spend less time sanding the area down so that it does not cut. After all, I would not want any local wildlife to get injured if they decide to climb my shed.

 

Searching online, I finally settled on a company that had all of the things that I was looking for. My sheet metal arrived in a timely manner and I was able to put up my new garden shed in no time.

 

 

Vegetable Gardening Is More Than Just A Hobby

 

I love the great outdoors and adore environment friendly ideas. I am proud to say that I have a green thumb. I grew up having this great appreciation for plants, trees and nature plus the knack for gardening and landscaping.

 

This is perhaps because I was raised by my loving, green living parents who are fulltime gardeners or shall I say organic vegetable growers.

 

When I do not have work, particularly during the weekends, most of my vacant time is greatly spent on gardening in our wide gorgeous backyard garden. Learning about various plants, cultivating seeds, planting and taking care of them are some of the things that I really find to my liking.

 

vegetable-gardening-image

 

Aside from flower plants, I have also planted and grew many different kinds of garden vegetables like tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, spinach, mesculin, beans and basil.

 

 

I made space for all of these vegetables in our garden as they are top essential plants to grow. All of them are easy to grow and harvest; they can be grown in the garden or in a container.

 

Vegetable gardening is a wonderful hobby for everyone. It is a fun and wholesome activity that provides a healthy relaxation and gentle exercise especially for working individuals like me. Gardening allows us to be outdoors hence we can enjoy the warm sunshine especially during the summer and spring. It takes away stress, boredom and depression.

 

There are a lot of benefits from growing vegetables in your garden. In fact, gardening has provided and still continues to provide free, fresh, natural and healthy food for our family as well as something to share to our neighbours.

 

 

We can have healthy ingredients or foods, green salads in particular, anytime we want without purchasing from the local market or grocery store. Since we control what goes on our garden vegetables, we are able to control what we eat and stay away from unhealthy eating habits. Getting food from our organic vegetable garden allows us to save a lot of money.

 

To a lot of people, planting, cultivating seeds and growing vegetables may seem like a tiresome task. It definitely requires knowledge, patience and passion but I do not think it is tiresome since I love working in our garden.

 

vegetables-image2

 

It creates a good extra income source as well. When it is time to harvest, I felt that all of my hard work and time spent on it was really worth it.

 

Such activity serves as my gentle workout and escape from work related pressures; I really find it therapeutic. I as well as my parents have greatly benefited from vegetable gardening.

 

After harvest, I usually sell our vegetables and I used Welsh slate to display my produce. All of my harvested crops are sold every time I sell them. This makes me happy and this simply means that I make money out of my hobby.

 

And you can do this, too! If you do not know where to start, you can always look online for articles that provide tips about vegetable gardening.

Starting your own vegetable garden is the best way to eat safer and healthier. Selling your home-grown vegetables is indeed a very quick way to make money. It will be really rewarding as you go along not to mention that you will reap a lot of healthy benefits.

 

Here is a short video that talks about  Important Plant Nutrition for Organic Vegetable Gardens:

 

Keeping your Garden and Yard Safe

After my aunt had to ask a solicitor specialising in personal injury to help her with an accident that occurred at someone else’s garden, I realized that I too have to be careful to make my garden safe. Not only will it make my garden safer for myself and for my wife, but it will also be safer for any children or pets that are around.

 

I want my guests to feel at ease, so I try to make my garden both beautiful and safe. Here are some of my tips for improving the safety of your garden.

 

Fence everything in

fence-everything-in-image

 Adding a sturdy fence to your garden can prevent dogs and children from getting themselves into trouble, especially if you live in the city by a busy street.

Even if you live in the country, a fence can keep unwanted animals out of your yard that could harm whoever is in the garden. A good, sturdy fence of your choice can make your garden all the more safer.

 

Keep all of your garden tools in a shed

garden-shed-image

Spades, shovels, picks, and garden shears are all sharp and dangerous objects, especially if left lying about. You should always pick up all of your garden tools and keep them in a shed, out of reach of children.

You do not want someone to accidentally step on one your tools and injure themselves, so be tidy and responsible by picking up your tools and storing them away.

 

Remove poisonous weeds, hives, and ant hills

poisonous-plants-image

Stinging nettles and other nasty weeds tend to pop out of nowhere. It is better if you remove them, because they pose a hazard to yourself, your pets, and your guests. Wear gloves when removing them, because you can get injured.

It is also a good idea to remove bee or wasp hives and ant hills, as they could sting and hurt anyone who stumbles across them. You may need the help of an exterminator to get rid of a particularly large colony, but it is possible to remove them yourself if it is still small.

 

Avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides

pesticides-image

Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not good for your plants, especially if you are growing vegetable crops like me. Accidental ingestion of these substances are dangerous and could lead to vomiting, nausea, and even death.

If you absolutely have to use pesticides, try to limit the amount you spray, and make sure that you keep it properly sealed and locked away when not in use.

 

Properly light up your garden

light-up-your-garden-image

For evening parties, it is best that you light up your garden, especially if you have guests over. You do not want people to accidentally stumble all over your vegetable plots – not only will they get injured, but it could ruin your veg plot too!

Meanwhile Here is A Video about The Top Ten Most Common Gardening Mistakes: