You want to grow your own chemical free, organic vegetables, but where to start, what to plant and how do you stop them from dying!?
Bodhi owner Heaven Leigh took the opportunity during Covid-19 lockdown to tick something off her to-do list, which had been on there for a long time... setting up a chemical-free vegetable, herb and edible flower garden in her own backyard.
She wanted an easy and low maintenance set up which the whole family (including the kids!) could get involved in and enjoy. So she bought a couple of self-contained raised garden beds from Vegepod and called in one of their gardening gurus, Simon to share his tips on how to look after and grow vegetables and herbs at home.
Simon has been with Vegepod since it launched in 2009 and knows a thing or two about the perils of gardening in Australia - with shrinking yards, poor soil quality, watering and the loss of general growing knowledge to contend with.
Here are his top five tops for getting the most out of your vegetable garden:
1# Sun, sun, sun
It's all about sun. When growing vegetables - particularly the big roots and the big fruits - they need a lot of energy, so lots of sun is key. There are some plants like leafy greens here that can get away with four hours or less, but generally speaking, heaps of sun is really good for your your veggies.
2# Get the dirt on dirt
Once you have all the energy coming from the sun, it's all about feeding and getting structure from the soil. I recommend getting the best premium potting mix you can for the best bang for your buck. In Australia, we have a standards tick box with a red and white logo which indicates premium quality. Buy potting mix with that labelled on it, and you know you've got good slow-release fertilisers in there, the manures are well-aged and you've got great structure.
3# Keep your plants close
Bring your veggie garden as close to the kitchen as possible, bearing in mind your space and the sun. I've often found people build a great garden, but then it's actually a bit of a hike to get to it, and they just don't end up using it. So if you can get it really close to the kitchen, you get pick your culinary herbs and veggies and get them straight into a dish or onto a plate, you'll tend to use them a lot more.
#4 Pick the right plants
It's all about picking your plants right. I like to tell people to choose three types of
plants: 1. Something you actually eat! If you just go and grab everything randomly, you won't end up eating it, which is not much fun; 2. Something immediate! Make sure you get a quick win in there for instant gratification, something like a lettuce or a baby spinach which you're gonna be eating it within a couple of weeks; and 3. Something fun! Pick something for fun, like a big fennel or a big brussels sprouts, something that you might not eat that well, but will be fun to do.
#5 Make time for watering
I'm a bit biased for the Vegepod because they are the best water system around, but generally for gardening as a whole, you have to be on top of your watering. Some things are very sensitive. You can over water, you can under water. A Vegepod or any kind of wicking bed is great because it draws the water from below and the plant pretty well takes what they need.