Whether you have a small balcony, a courtyard or a suburban block, you can grow your own produce – and it’s easy! If your space is tiny, raise herbs – you are always buying them in expensive bunches (and half often goes to waste in the fridge), yet they are a snap to grow. With more space, add your favourite vegies. If you have a good-sized garden, you could grow every vegetable and herb you currently buy – and fruit, too.
How many vegies?
Check out this productive patch in an outer suburb of Melbourne to find ideas to grow your range of fruit trees and seasonal vegies. This garden even produces olive oil and wine. You don’t need to go to those lengths but however much – or little – you do grow, we guarantee you will be so pleased with yourself when you go into the garden to pick a few things you will use straight away.
Five essentials for success
• Plenty of sun, the ideal is eight hours of sun a day – or more. You can get away with a little less, but food crops are generally not shade lovers.
• Good soil, if you can dig down to about 30cm and it’s dark and crumbly, that’s a good foundation. Build on it by digging through cow or chicken manure pellets, a ration of controlled release fertiliser and a few handfuls of dolomite lime. Water soil well and let it sit for a few weeks before planting.
• Consistent moisture. Once you plant, water often enough to keep the soil lightly and evenly moist. To test if it needs more water, poke a finger right down into the soil. If it feels moist, don’t water.
• Food for thought. Keep soil fertile with regular doses of fertiliser or apply a thin layer of manure every six weeks. After harvesting, enrich the soil by digging in manure or compost before replanting.
• Your time, Vegies need love. Every day or so, check for moisture in the soil and look over and under plants for signs of pests, squashing any you see. Pull out competing weeds as soon as they appear.
Tips for small gardens
• Share with a friend so there’s no waste.
• For an ongoing supply of your favourite vegie, plant a few seedlings every couple of weeks.