HOW TO START A VEGIE PATCH

Get “grow your own” off your to-do list! Mered­ith sets you up for suc­cess.

Homes+ (Australia) - - MY BACKYARD -

MORE PEO­PLE THAN EVER ARE want­ing to try or­gan­i­cally grown kitchen gar­den­ing, and au­tumn is the per­fect time of year for plant­ing. Here are some vegie gar­den­ing ba­sics to get your gar­den grow­ing.

START FROM SCRATCH

De­cide whether you’ll grow your crops in pots or in the ground, straight into the soil or in raised beds. Most ed­i­ble plants need sun to flower, so make sure the spot you’ve cho­sen is in full sun – that is, it gets at least five to six hours of di­rect sun­light each day. Or try grow­ing your veg in tubs and move them to the sun­ni­est spots. If the soil drains well and is in the sun, you can start a tra­di­tional in-ground patch; just dig in lots of or­ganic mat­ter, like home­made com­post, ma­nure or spent mush­room com­post. Work it through the soil, al­low to set­tle for a few weeks, then start plant­ing. If the soil drains poorly, con­sider rais­ing the gar­den beds with sleep­ers or brick edg­ing, or in­stall easy-to-as­sem­ble raised cor­ru­gated steel or tim­ber gar­den beds.

If your pre­ferred op­tion is con­tain­ers, don’t use soil at all – only pot­ting mix. Gar­den soil doesn’t drain ef­fec­tively in tubs. In­stead, use a “Pre­mium” qual­ity pot­ting mix that’s made espe­cially for grow­ing ed­i­bles and has an Aus­tralian Stan­dards Mark set of ticks. You can get some with or­ganic rat­ings, too.

FEED­ING & FERTILISING

If you’re go­ing down the or­ganic route, try to only use nat­u­ral fer­tilis­ers, like blood and bone (the liq­uid form is sold as Nitrosol), sea­weed so­lu­tion (Sea­sol or Maxi­crop) and fish emul­sion (Char­lie Carp or EcoFish). These fer­tilis­ers en­cour­age and feed ben­e­fi­cial micro­organ­isms in the soil.

Us­ing a mix of liq­uid prod­ucts and solid or gran­u­lar prod­ucts, like ma­nure pel­lets (Dy­namic Lifter and Or­ganic Life), will mean you end up with con­sis­tent delivery over time of the nu­tri­ents plants need. Lim­ing can also be nec­es­sary, espe­cially if grow­ing cab­bages, Brus­sels sprouts, broc­coli, kale, sage, rose­mary and laven­der.

Na­ture’s bounty Ve­gies, herbs and flow­ers can grow hap­pily and healthily to­gether in big beds.

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