Resolve to eat healthily this year by growing your own, superior-tasting fresh produce.

Top tips for a home vegetable garden

Strive for a natural balance by encouraging predator insects such as dragonflies, praying mantises, ladybirds and lacewings. That means not spraying with toxic chemicals, which kill the good guys as well as the baddies. Beat snails by holding parties for them – they’re suckers for free beer and if you place a container of their favourite brew in the garden at night, they’ll get drunk and drown. An old cottage cheese container buried up to its rim in the soil and filled with beer will be irresistible to them. Well-nourished plants are less likely to be attacked by pests. Boost veggies monthly with a sprinkling of Talborne Organics Vita Veg. When planting, sprinkle a generous pinch of volcanic rock dust in each hole – it contains 72 minerals and trace elements to improve soil structure, nutrient availability and bacterial action. Add compost for a vital, living soil and your veggies will reward you with nutrient-dense fresh produce for your dinner. If you’ve decided this is the year you develop true green fingers, try planting your own seeds directly in the soil. Beans, courgettes, squash and rocket are easy even for beginners. Plant root veggies such as carrots, turnips, beetroots and radishes in rows and thin out as they grow – you can even eat these microgreens in salads! Caterpillars, cutworms and many goggas like to snack on young plants, but they too have their own predators. For instance, a fiscal flycatcher nabs an average of one insect per minute when feeding. Encourage birds to come and search for these tasty morsels by providing avian amenities such as a bird bath – it also makes an attractive focal point in the garden.

The benefits of khakibos

  • Khakibos has so many uses it seems crazy to call it a weed. Instead of pulling it out, use the leaves for cushions under heavy, ripening tomatoes resting on the ground – the smell will keep goggas away and stop the fruit rotting on damp soil.
  • Place khakibos in your dog’s basket and kennel to chase fleas away.
  • Cover ripening pumpkins with khakibos instead of spraying them with insecticide.
  • Make an environmentally friendly insecticide by pouring boiling water to cover half a bucket full of chopped khakibos. Stand overnight and strain the liquid before spraying it on vulnerable plants.
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