Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vegetable Garden Establishment

Vegetable Patch Establishment

To establish a vegetable garden it is important to consider which plants to be grown in which part of the backyard, do the plants need full sunlight, part sunlight or shade. Are the vegetables tropical or temperate vegetables? Do they bear fruit on a vine, plant or underground etc.

Frost is your plants killer

Light requirement

Vegetables such as Tomatoes, Eggplants, Okra, Pumpkins, Choko (seemebadanekayi) and Corn need full sunlight.
Vegetables such as Cucumbers and Beans need some shade but mostly sunlight
Strawberries need cooler parts of the garden with some sunlight
Potatoes, onions and  shallots need some sunlight
Turmeric, Ginger, lemon grass and Basil need full sunlight but will not survive frost or very cool temperature
Chillies although need some good sunlight but will do well in cooler parts of the yard.
Coriander (cilantro) is same as chillies.


Tomato, Choko, Chilly flowers are small and easily dislodged in wind so place them next to the fence.
Allow Cucumbers and Pumpkins to spread on the ground such as on the lawn
Eggplants needs to have stake as the fruits will pull the plant down
Corn and Okra need no staking
Potatoes, Onions, Ginger, Turmeric will need very friable soil and do not plant too deep into the ground.
Basil will grow anywhere.

Basil Plants
Choko young plants

Turmeric Plants

Queensland Blue Pumpkin

Onion Plant


Egg Plant with Basil

Choko on fence

Beans Rows

Tomato Plants hooked to the fence

How to start

Tomatoes, Eggplants, Chilli and Strawberries are best bought in punnets and planted just to cover roots but not too deep. Plant them with about 15 cm to 20 cm gap between them.
Okra, Beans, Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Corn, Coriander, Basil are best sown as seeds just below the surface about 1.5cm deep. For Okra and Beans leave 15 cm gaps. For others place about 25 -30 cm gap.
Ginger and Turmeric buy organic rhizomes as standard ones are sterilized and will not germinate. Place them just below the surface of the soil but not exposed. Leave 10 cm gaps.
Potatoes, Chokos, Onions, buy sufficient quantity from the shops about 1-2 months prior to when you want to plant, allow them to germinate on the table at home in a cool dry place and plant them just below the soil surface when they start to germinate. Make a light potting mix mound. leave about 20cm gap.

Longevity of the Plants

Eggplants, Chokos and Chillies are full perennials so you can get 2-4 years crops from them so long as you keep them moist in winters. Here they survive temperatures of -6 in frost. Eggplants need to be cutback once finished fruiting or cold weather commences to about 20-25 cm high. Chillies will lose leaves during winter and later regenerate when the weather warms up.
Strawberries are also semi perennials and one can get 2-3 years of crops through runners.
Tomatoes once fruited can be cut back to about 25 cm high and allowed to regenerate again. I can get about 3 crops per plant by regeneration.
Corn, Basil, Okra, Beans, Pumpkins, Cucumbers are annuals and needs replanting every year. Okras are supposed to be perennials but here they do not survive the frost events.
Potatoes are finished when the top leaves and stalks start to wilt. Onions can keep growing to a long time as you can harvest shallots or onions.

Companion Plants

Use Basil from seeds or plants, Garlic cloves and Marigold plants as companion plants to minimize bad insects and get good ones such as bees, lady bird beetle, native bees and butterflies. Basil and Marigolds attracts bees in high numbers and therefore prevent other bad ones. Lady bird beetles eat thrips and aphids. Garlic generally improves soil health through bio-fumigation. Marigolds prevent moths from damaging leaves. These plants only minimize insect damage not completely prevent it. This is called as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Basil and Marigold are annuals. 

Sprays for insects and pests

Neem oil is used at the rate of 5 mls /liter to control insects both at the adults and juvenile stage. It controls aphids, thrips and mites very well if sprayed during cool dry periods either in the early morning or evening when sun can not penetrate the oil drops and burn leaves. Make sure you follow up after 10 days.

Pest oils are used in the same manner as Neem oil at the rates recommended on the labels.

Eggplants are susceptible to fruit borers so occasionally one may have to spray with proper chemical insecticides from the garden store. Cabbage white butterflies also attack eggplants so spray at the bottom of the leaves with pest oils or Neem or stronger insecticide.

Wear gloves, mask while mixing and spraying any of the sprays as you may be allergic to them.


Use 4 way tap connector with a cheap manual timer to connect to the tap. To these connect drip hoses and turn off taps which are UV resistant. If you cant buy drip hoses buy cheap hoses and drill tiny holes with a drill when they are still in roles. I don't leave the tap on as I don not want them to water when it is raining so I turn timer manually. In cooler temperatures (below 20C) I water full grown plants for 30 minutes twice a week. In hot temperatures (above 32C) I water 3 times a week if required.  Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Choko and Corn needs their roots to be kept moist at all times but not wet. Beans, Okra, Eggplants will tolerate some moisture stress but not very high level one. Strawberries, Onions, Potatoes, Coriander, Chillies need watering to keep them moist but not wet. Basil and Marigold will tolerate some moisture stress but not Garlic.


I only use what is called as liquid fertilizer which comes cheaply in a powder format (Thrive). I use it to fertilize young plants for initial 4 week once per week at the recommended rate. After they establish but still in the vegetative growth stage I use once a fortnight at the rate for 4 weeks. Once good growth takes place they start to send flower buds I do not fertilize at all.

Use lime if your pH is below 5 (check the blog for soil testing). Tomatoes will need Potash if you can't use ash from wood fire.

I do not use any concoctions, blood and bone, long term release fertilizers, seaweed, water crystals or any other products. Do not bother to use any urea or nitrogen containing NPK. I do not do any other composting, mulching or other practices as I do not have time to keep the area clean of snails, slugs and spiders.

Crop Rotation

When sowing seed or planting ensure that you do not use the same spot in the following year. This will prevent spread of diseases such as Verticillum wilt in tomatoes and eggplants, nematodes. Plant high nitrogen requirement corn in the area where you put in beans in the previous year as it will provide most of the nitrogen. Do not plant Pumpkins and Cucumbers too far away from Basil as Basil attracts bees which also pollinate others. Deep rooted plants such as Okra and Eggplants make soil healthy for Tomatoes in the next year.

Harvesting & Storing

When fruiting commences harvest when the fruits are firm and not fully ripe. This will prevent them from getting over ripe and they will mature slowly on your kitchen table and will last longer later in the fridge. Eggplants should be monitored for holes on the fruit from the fruit borers and if needed sprayed and harvested only after minimum withholding period as per label. Eggplants cant be frozen so do not put in too many plants.
Beans and Okra should be harvested when young as they will become very stringy very quickly. Beans and Okras can be cut up and frozen for later use.
Tomatoes should be harvested when semi ripe and allowed to ripe on the kitchen table for flavor and taste.
Pumpkins should be harvested when the color turns just before the frost season commences. Keep them in cool dry places and they will last for a year. It can also be cut up and frozen for later use.
Chillies and Coriander can be harvested and used immediately or frozen. Chilli when harvested dry can be cut up and placed in bottles with vinegar or oil for later use.
Ginger and Turmeric can be dried or saved for later use in the fridge.
Potatoes, Chokos and Onions will last a reasonable time if kept in a cool dry place.
Beans and Eggplants do not last long even refrigerated so use up as quickly as possible.

Harvesting Seed

Basil, Pumpkin, Marigold, Okra and Bean seeds should be kept by allowing the flower head or some Okra and Bean fruits to dry on the plant when the season is finishing. Do not allow the seed to split and spread itself. Pumpkin seeds can be harvested when cooking and then cleaning good seed by washing in water and drying. Chilli and Tomato seeds can also be harvested by drying ripe fruits but I do not worry too much about this. It is easier to buy plants. Keep a couple of Chokos if you want it to be used for planting.


Use trees or Reed as windbreaks as it helps.

Reed fence windbreak

Use hooks and Hessian strings to hook and tie Tomatoes and Chokos onto the fence
Cutback turmeric plants in pots without watering
Enjoy Fruits of your labor

Butternut Pumpkin Family

Harvested Cherry Tomatoes

Enough Vegetables each day for several months

Have lots of Fun!!!!!!!!!


This information is provided to help people only. Any gardening activity should be conducted after consulting with your doctor. Use appropriate personal protection equipment such as gloves, glasses and masks to handle potting mixes and some plants. You could be allergic to weeds or sprays or pollen.