When choosing the site for your vegetable plot, always ensure that it is appropriately situated in a location that is fit for the intended purpose. There are three main points to consider: Nutrients, Sunlight and Soil.
Avoid areas where the ground may already be depleted of nutrients; such as under the crowns of trees, in or near previously “orchard” or fruit growing areas or where hedging has been growing for several years. Ground that is already depleted of nutrients will not produce the best crops without substantial soil improvements (see the “Preparing the Soil” article). Conversely, ground that is covered with a healthy crop of annual weeds is a good indicator of fertile land and can be easily weeded in a short space of time. Areas previously laid to lawn, which you are now converting, are also suitable, as the roots will have aerated the topsoil and grass is not too nutrient depleting (hence why some farmers leave the ground fallow for several years to rest). If you are considering using or creating raised growing beds for vegetables, do also consider the drawbacks of doing so.
They are often time consuming to create, decay over time if made from wood, are colder in the winter (despite being warmer in spring and summer) and dry out extremely quickly in the growing season, necessitating frequent laborious watering and encouraging the bolting (running to seed quickly) of crops that are sometimes prone to doing so (especially beetroot and carrots for example). Overall though, gardeners are unfortunately often confined to the spaces and conditions available to them and as a result, you may simply have to work with what you already have! In addition to the fertility of the land, you will also need to assess the sunlight available to the plot and any possibility of damage by wind flow.
Vegetable plots should ideally receive a large proportion of the day’s sunlight, both for the food that this produces for the plants (via photosynthesis) and to warm the ground for early spring growth and germination of seeds. Areas frequently blasted by the wind may require some screening (either natural or man-made) to deflect this, or risk young seedlings being damaged prematurely by the spring winds. Soil-wise, it would be pertinent to choose ground that will require (in the first year at least) only a little work. I personally would avoid, if at all possible, areas that are at the extremes of the soil world... be that either heavy clay or extremely sandy earth, as these will cause endless aggravation in the coming growing season, as both you and the plants struggle to negotiate the difficult ground. Once again, please refer to the “Preparing the Soil” article for more advice on this.
During construction, also plan to ensure that every area of the plot openly reachable with your hand from a nearby path. Planning paths into the plot will save work year upon year, as you will not compress the soil by standing on it and therefore not have to dig the plot excessively to break up this compacted ground. The availability ad proximity of water should also be considered – unless there is access to a hosepipe on the premises.
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Wild Mushroom Identification - Recommended Books for All Skill Levels: Every amateur mycologist should have a decent library of books, here are the top five books I highly recommend for wild mushroom identification:
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