When we moved into our new home a little over a year ago we were excited to finally have a garden to call our own. The previous owners were keen gardeners and had left us with a beautiful space that is full of natives and grasses. It’s cool in summer and green and lush in winter and encourages lots of noisy native birds. While it ticked a lot of boxes for us it was missing one thing, a space to grow veggies. Vegies need at least 6 hours of full sun a day and are fairly fussy about the kind of soil they grow in. Large trees, especially gums, can wreak havoc on the pH levels of soil as the leaves decompose and break down. Their root systems suck up most of the moisture and nutrients in the ground and their broad branches pretty much rule out full sun within a 3 metre radius of the trunk.
Determined to grow my vegies I had to find a solution that allowed the best of both worlds and the most simple and straightforward solution was to place large containers in the sunny spots of the garden and hope for the best. It’s not the monster vegie patch I’d been dreaming of but it’s more than enough to keep me busy. Over the last twelve months I have rescued old wooden boxes, recycling crates, wheelbarrows, pots and styrofoam containers from the side of the road (it’s amazing what people throw away!) and used them for growing whatever I can get to sprout. I’ve been able to control the soil pH, keep it moist and free of weeds and, most importantly, still get a good yield with a bit of TLC and a good dose of liquid seaweed every couple of weeks.
I’ve just finished a busy couple of months of composting, preparing soil, sprouting seeds, nurturing seedlings and finally planting out the winter veggie crop and so far things are going well. I’ve got spuds, beets, two types of kale, bok choi, peas, broad beans, garlic, mini cabbages and cauli’s, two types of broccoli, spinach, radishes, carrots, silverbeet and a large container of lettuce. In the herb garden is a steady supply of sage, chamomile, dill, chives, mint, coriander, parsley and cat nip for the ‘kids’. Citrus is a new experiment for me with a patio lime and meyer lemon in containers and a burgeoning mandarin tree (which is currently loaded with fruit) that we inherited from the previous owners. In the coming months I look forward to being able to cook, share and enjoy my yield with friends and family which is one of the most satisfying reasons to grow an edible garden.