Do you want to start growing vegetables and fruits, but you have no knowledge of gardening? Ever heard of the square vegetable garden? This farming technique is perfectly suited to those who want to be able to consume their own plantations, but this is new (even kids!). And it is not without reason that the square vegetable garden makes it possible to grow several types of plants in a very small area thanks to a roller system. However, a little technical, logic is quickly learned when you understand the principles. So, to your seeds, gloves and hoe!
You may want a bountiful vegetable garden, but be careful not to be too greedy the first year† If growing in squares takes less time than a regular vegetable garden, it’s better to start small before adjusting your ambitions upwards for the following seasons. A square or two should be enough for your first year. You can make your own squares or buy them directly from supermarkets or DIY or garden stores. Their size is general: 120 centimeters per 120 for inner squares of 30 cm silk. You can easily access all your plants and avoid back pain.
You can also make an extra square, which you divide in half this time to place your compost on one side and make a frame on the other. Your seedlings will be able to grow quietly before transplanting them into your vegetable garden.
Choose your location according to the sunshine
First advice before even installing your squares: choose a sunny spot sheltered from the wind and this all year round. Your fruits and vegetables need as much sun as possible to grow and provide you with good products that you can enjoy all year round.
Provide a water point nearby
The square vegetable garden is an intensive cultivation method: your vegetables need a lot of water to grow. So don’t hesitate install a water collector close to your square(s). As for the watering method, you can provide automatic watering or use the “old-fashioned” method: equip yourself with a classic watering can of about 10 liters and a watering can with a fine spout for the smallest and most vulnerable.
Equip yourself with the right tools
Watering cans are not the only tool you need to grow your vegetables in your vegetable garden. However, with its miniature size, you don’t have to invest in a multitude of objects. A claw, a small hoe and a small shovel should do the trick for you to hoe, scrape your soil between two crops, and get your veggies out of the ground. Finally, get a pocket knife or small pruning shearslike raffia to maintain your crops daily. Also remember that the most essential tools in your square vegetable garden are: your hands and your eyes. Without them, you won’t be able to see cabbage leaves spreading to their neighbors or aphids colonizing some of your plants.
Prepare in advance and record your efforts
This page of advice is not enough to get you started in the art of the square vegetable garden. Before sowing, planting and harvesting, you will need to spend some time on paper to plan the rotation of your crops. Read more about crop rotation. Two principles are essential to know to prevent soil depletion and disease in your plants:
- two cultures of the same botanical family (Apiaceae, Brassicaceae or Cucurbitaceae, etc.) should not be followed,
- nor may two crops of the same food category succeed each other (leaf vegetables, root vegetables or even bulb vegetables, etc.).
Do not forget to use a small special notebook: keep a diary of your seedlings and plantings, as well as your crops. This is a good way to hold onto teachings. Because you can read all possible advice, a garden rule is not always valid depending on the region or the nature of the soil. Feel free to experiment and learn from your mistakes and your successes!
For more such gardening advice, read our interview with Ophélie Damblé, the urban farmer behind the YouTube channel Ophélie Ta Mère nature.
Place climbing plants in the north
In a square vegetable garden, each plant has its place according to its light needs, but also its impact on the development of other plants. It is therefore advisable to place climbing plants (snow peas, tomatoes, climbing beans, etc.) on a trellis in the squares in the north. In the center we find tall plants such as aubergines, Swiss chard or leeks. In general, one foot per square is sufficient. Finally, on the sides, the low plants that like to extend into the paths and will not hinder the growth of the others, like the cabbage.
Combine plants together
To make optimum use of the crops from the vegetable garden in squares, it is advisable to associate the plants with each other. So you can plant one foot of a plant (such as eggplant) in the center of a square and four small seasonal lettuce plants at the four corners. Radishes also go well with carrots. They have already sprouted when the carrots need room to grow on their sides.
Surround the vegetable garden with beds
Plant beds around your vegetable garden in squares with two interests: create a beautiful space from the rest of your garden, bring color, finish your crops with, for example, red fruits and flowers that attract or repel insects, depending on the varieties you have chosen to plant. So you can plant Black berries Where gooseberries but also bedding dahlias or cosmos.
Feed your earth enough
Have your seedlings grown, have your plants been transplanted? The work doesn’t stop there. Always make sure to feed your soil well. Why ? Because the vegetable garden in squares, it is remembered, is a form of intensive agriculture. Vegetables extract nutrients from the soil, which must then be feed with (organic) compost between each culture. You can also add to your waterings nettle manure depending on the varieties you want to grow. Also don’t forget to chop wood certain plants, such as those of the Chenopodiaceae family (beets, spinach, chard) or Cucurbitaceae (cucumber, zucchini, melon).
Due to the small area, vegetables from the vegetable garden must be harvested quite young. We pick salads the size of a fist, turnips the size of a mandarin or even extra flat beans. Likewise, carrots will be as wide as a finger or the garlic will still be harvested green.
Did you like this article? Discover how to grow vegetables on your balcony.