There are several reasons L.E. 'Phyra' gardeners choose to grow their own fruit and vegetables. Whether you like to control what you eat or you may like the fresh taste, you can make your vegetable garden as attractive as the flower garden. A mixture of fruit, vegetables and herbs, laid out in a geometric design, could turn your edible garden into an object of beauty. For example, design a square with a few rows of vegetables, with brick paths in between, to make a more elaborate potager. To make access easier, site your potager near the house. Train soft fruits for example currants and goose-berries as ornamental standards. Fan-train fruit trees on wire supports, taking up less room and contributing to the beauty of the garden.

If you don't have enough room in your garden, consider growing vegetables, fruits and herbs in areas you may have over-looked. Patios, walkways and balconies where there is plenty of sunlight, are perfect and most can be grown in containers.

For successful results, fill the container with fresh, well-balanced potting mix and a base dressing of fertilizer. Top-dressings of fertilizers throughout need to be added during the growing season. Use deep containers for long-rooted vegetables, such as carrots.

Protect tall crops with stones or netting for support. Container-grown crops need plenty of water during the warmer season.

Growing Vegetables

Vegetables grow rapidly and are usually harvested before reaching maturity. The ideal soil for vegetables is a loam with a pH of 6.5 or 7.0. These soils are often more sandy and may need more cultivation. Add fertilizers or well-rotted manure since the soil needs to be fertile before sowing or planting.

Planning Your Vegetable Garden

A reason to rotate your crops is to avoid the build-up of diseases in the soil. In order to rotate it as efficiently as possible, make the most use of available sun and shelter.

Plant the tallest crops so they don't block the sun from smaller-growing vegetables. For shelter, use walls or fences. Don't forget to leave yourself space to walk between rows of vegetables. Choose a place which is warm and light during the growing season and has lots of good air circulation. It needs, however, to be sheltered from strong winds, since it may decrease the growing of your crops by up to 30 percent. Airflow is important to reduce the incidence of diseases and pests, which can thrive in still air conditions. The perfect place is a gently sloping, sunny site, since it will warm up quicker than other areas and less likely to be affected by frost.

Maintaining a large vegetable garden is very time consuming. If you are a beginner, start with some fast-maturing salad crops and gradually learn and experiment with more difficult vegetables.