Eat What We Grow
Caring Your Backyard Garden

Watering can.jpgWatering

Vegetables need a regular supply of water. However, one should not over water as this can cause root damage, diseases and eventually death of the plants. Pay attention to the type soil of soil in the garden. If it is clayey it will hold water for longer periods and the presence of organic matter in the soil increases moisture retention as well.

Place mulch of dried grass clipping or plastic bag over the soil to retain soil moisture. This will help to reduce the monthly water bill and keep down weeds.  Watering in early morning or at nights is another way to reduce loss of water through evaporation. Also, try collecting rainwater to conserve on domestic water and enhance green growth.

FertilizingFertilising

Fertilisers provide nutrients necessary for plant health and growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the N, P, and K that you find on bags of manufactured fertilizers. They each serve specific purposes, such as:

  • Nitrogen (N):  healthy green growth; regulation of other nutrients.
  • Phosphorus (P): roots and seeds development; disease resistance.
  • Potassium (K): root development and disease resistance.

Fertilisers may be placed in moist soil before planting or afterwards around the base of the plants. Avoid letting the fertiliser come into contact with the plants. After adding the plant food, it is best to cover it with soil or mulch to enhance absorption into the soil and prevent loss by wind or rain.  

To minimise cost of using store bought fertilisers, household products and kitchen waste can easily be converted into plant food. Here are some examples of how to make homemade fertilisers.

LadybugPreventing Diseases

Plant diseases are caused by numerous micro-organisms that cause spots, wilts, blights and distorted growth. Disease encouraging conditions to avoid include overcrowded and heavily shaded areas. Too much moisture can also promote the growth of fungus.

Application of chemical fungicides and pesticides is necessary to rid your garden of disease causing agents. However, these may inadvertently kill beneficial fungi and insects. For a natural alternative, use the links below to find out how to make homemade organic:

  1. Fungicides
  2. Pesticides

 

Controlling Weeds

Weeds are your vegetables and fruits competitor. They rob the plants of sunlight, soil nutrients, water and root space. Remove them as early as possible before the weeds go to seed. Controlling the weeds will give your plants the chance to survive and eventually choke out future weeds. You will, however, be required to be vigilant in your efforts of regularly digging the soil, using mulches, and pulling out weeds as you see them. Don’t let them overrun your garden and hard work. Identify the plants which you consider to be weeds. Some wild plants such as dandelion may easily fit in a wild flower or medicinal herb garden.

Hand-Pulling Weeds

  1. Pulling WeedsCultivate or break up the soil surface before removing the weeds by hand.
  2. Also moisten the soil before uprooting to ensure that no roots are left behind. Do not over watering or the process will be messy.
  3. Pullout weeds by hand. Preferably, do this when the weeds are small so to avoid the release of seeds from mature wild plants.
  4. Hand-pull and dig individual weeds with a trowel. Larger weeds may require a machete, hoe or garden fork to excavate all the roots.
  5. Dig as shallow as possible to avoid damaging the roots of your plants.
  6. There are several options to carefully remove weeds from the garden and eliminate their return.
    1. Leave uprooted on the surface of the soil to dry and wither.
    2. Weeds may also be added to the compost pile.
    3. Place in the trash.

MulchingMulching

Spreading layers of dried grass, leaves, garden bark or black plastic over the soil will inhibit weed growth. Mulching prevents the sunlight from reaching the seeds which prevents weeds from becoming established. 

Additionally mulch will retain soil moisture, minimise erosion, and enrich the soil. As the organic materials decompose over time, needed nutrients are released for the plants to feed on.