How to create a sustainable vegetable garden on your farmland

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How to create a sustainable vegetable garden on your farmland

If you live on your farmland and have your own garden, you can use this space to create a beautiful, bountiful and sustainable vegetable garden. It does not have to be for profit, and can rather be used for feeding your family on delicious fresh vegetables (and saving on your grocery bill). Below is some advice to help you along the way to creating a sustainable vegetable garden on your farmland.


Choose the site

The very first step to creating your garden is to choose the site where you will be building it.You will need to make sure it is level, and that it receives at least four to five hours of sun a day. If it is not as level as you would like it, you could use farm equipment to smooth out the lumps.

If the ground is on too much of a slope, then you should look into building walls for easy maintenance. You could use formal walls built from bricks or go the more natural route and use branches and rocks. Mow the area to ground level if there is grass to make planting and planning easier, or you could allow the grass underneath to decay underneath in time.


Test your soil

This is an important step when planning a sustainable garden, and is easily done on a farm. You can look for kits that test your soil to see if it is acidic or has a high alkaline content. You can then plan your fertiliser and compost accordingly.

Most plants flourish with a balanced ph, but others require a more acidic soil. If you are using manure as part of your compost or fertiliser, be sure that it is 100 percent organic and does not contain any antibiotics or other hormones that can damage the pH level of your soil. Once you have tested your soil, you will also be able to plan what vegetables will grow best in your garden.


Choose to grow produce that makes sense for you

Do you enjoy the sweet plumpness of a ripe tomato? How about the gem-like purple of a fresh aubergine? Think about the produce that you buy frequently and plan your vegetable garden accordingly.

You should periodically review your garden’s financial output from a financial perspective, and calculate the cost of purchasing produce versus growing your own. If you love a certain fruit or vegetable that is expensive and scarce to find at the store, then you should consider growing your own to save money. Make adjustments to your garden plan for the next year if you find that some vegetables were unsuccessful or too costly to keep.


Look for companion plants

Research which plants do well together, such as planting basil with tomatoes to enhance the flavour of tomatoes and repel flies and mosquitoes. It is also a handy combination to have together for a deliciously fresh pasta sauce.

Planting broccoli, lettuce and potatoes together is ideal, because as the broccoli grows it will shade the lettuce from full sun, and as the lettuce begins to fade, the potatoes begin to reach maturity. Companion planting also helps to naturally repel pests from your garden, saving you from using harmful pesticides. Planting herbs such as mint in your garden can help to repel aphids, and garlic can eliminate ants.


Use organic compost and mulch

Because your vegetable garden is not being used as part of your farm profits, you can avoid using chemical fertilisers, and can opt for organic compost and mulch. You can use organic plant materials and kitchen offcuts as part of your compost.

If you monitor what you put into your compost and mulch, you can create a nutrient rich ‘meal’ that will positively alter the pH levels of the soil for your plants. In time you will find that your garden will provide you with dead matter that is perfect for next year’s planting. Not only is this form of composting free, but it uses up almost all of your biodegradable waste in a responsible and sustainable way.


Build your own seed bank

When you are cultivating your garden, you should keep some spare seeds in a safe location. Having these spare seeds can be helpful in times of a bad winter or if an infection or virus depletes your plants.

A seed bank can be created by collecting seeds from plants, such as tomatoes, gooseberries and peppers. You can save the seeds and use these to plant at a later date. This will save you money and is a highly eco-friendly way of cultivating seeds. Be sure to keep them in airtight containers in a dry place in order to avoid mold or being eaten by birds. You could donate the seeds to other amateur gardeners who are looking for interesting vegetables to cultivate.


Keep it natural

A sustainable vegetable garden on farmland does not have to be fertilised in the same manner as your crops. Use a natural fertiliser such as manure or compost and deter pests by using companion plants. Testing your soil is important, and will allow you to grow produce that will flourish in your soil and that makes sense for your preferences. Remember to be creative and look for vegetables that are scarce in stores, this way you will save money and be able to snack on your favourite fruits and veggies whenever you want.

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