Here are some secrets from the gardening expert!
Here are some secrets from the gardening expert! Ivandzyuba / Thinkstock

Greenthumb's secrets to growing good produce

IT'S as if everything old is new again, and we're not just talking about high-waisted stovepipes and puffer jackets.

Growing your own produce has become trendy once more with hipsters and paleo-abiding heath nuts driving the sustainability train.

You only have to go to a funky café and see half of your breakfast growing in the back courtyard to realise just how much the organic, home-grown wave has sprouted.  

To mark the imminent launch of our 2016 Seeds giveaway, where we give away a packet of seeds with every paper, we've pulled together the seven things you need to know to set up your own vegetable garden so you too can join the produce revolution.

1.       Site: Before you do anything, you first need a location for the vegetable garden. Will you plan it straight into the ground, into raised beds or vertically on the wall? Be aware most vegetables are thirsty for sunlight so find a sunny place with good drainage.

2.       Selection: Next up is to decide what you're going to plant. Choose vegetables that suit your climate and ones that are likely to survive in the area you have chosen. If you are growing climbing plants like beans or tomatoes you will need to stake them, and things like cucumbers and zucchinis like to drape, so plant them near the edges if you are using a raised garden bed.

3.        Sun: Most vegetables like about six hours of sunlight a day, but there are some which can thrive in part-shaded places. A good rule of thumb is if you plant for the fruit or the root, it needs full sun. If you plant for the leaves or stems, a little shade will be fine.

4.       Soil: Most vegetables do best in a moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. If your backyard soil is poor, you may be able to bring it back to life with some organic matter and aeration.

5.       Water: Different vegetables like different amounts of water, but normally you should water your vegetable garden a few times a week, or potentially daily when it gets really hot. Feel the top few inches of soil and if it's dry, it's time to water.

6.       Space: Read the back of your seed packet or tag to see how far apart you should plant your vegetables. Some don't mind being up close and personal with their biddies, but some want to hog the whole bed.

7.       Pests and diseases: White oil is a safe and effective way of controlling pests in your garden. You can find it at your local hardware store or nursery, but as with most pesticides and repellents it's best to test it on a small portion of your plants first to ensure they don't have an adverse reaction.

And now you're all set to set up your very own vegetable garden, and once you taste the freshness of your own backyard, you'll never go back to store bought again.

Get your free seeds from Saturday for the next two weeks! 



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