HOW TO START A VEGIE PATCH
Get “grow your own” off your to-do list! Meredith sets you up for success.
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.