Produce to Harvest
Some basic ideas to mull over before starting ……..
For produce which is good to harvest, plants need sun, soil, water, shelter and nutrients. Pick a spot that gets maximum sunshine, at least six hours.
Have a soil check – the ideal soil is easy-to-dig topsoil, rich with plenty of humus and good drainage. Add plenty of compost. Check your water supply and shelter. Shelter from blustery wind is important while some air movement helps reduce the risk of mildew and fungal diseases. In the South Island, avoid the frost pockets if you can.
Think about how you may feed your soil. Compost improves the soil structure and adds nutrients. Sheep pellets, slow release fertiliser pellets and liquid fertilisers all give plants a boost. Add mulch thickly to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Organic mulches like pea straw, seaweed and sawdust will break down and add nutrients to the soil.
Make sure you plan to have your plots in the best possible places. If your garden is handy to the kitchen you are more likely to pop out and pick salad greens and herbs.
If your plan is have your block producing food for your own table, grow what you like to eat. If however, you are planning to sell your produce, do a little research on what people like and expect when they visit a market garden stall and look for any food gaps in the local market.
Market gardening can provide both personal satisfaction and supplementary, or even full-time, income. Many people derive great satisfaction from seeing plants grow and produce nutritious food for themselves and their communities. An even greater source of satisfaction is learning from your successes and failures. Market gardening on lifestyle blocks can be a great outlet for a curious and scientific mind because there is always more to learn and likely to result in a successful market garden.
There is, however, no substitute for direct experience on your particular block and with your customer base. Survey your potential customers and enjoy how to tend, harvest and market your crops.