How to grow vegetables in pots
There are many positives when growing vegies in pots: you can move them to follow the sun, they're decorative, and you can hang them from a wall or ceiling when space is tight. Herbs can grow in small pots (around 25-30cm deep), but most vegetables need pots 30-50cm in deep that can hold 1-2 bags of quality potting mix. Vegies are always hungry and thirsty because they are quick growers. They'll fill out the pot in no time!
The best vegetables for pots are salad greens (such as cos, watercress, baby leaf spinach and rocket), tomatoes, chilli, capsicum, snow peas, onions (onion chives and garlic chives), cucumber and baby root vegetables like carrots and beets.
How to make a raised vegetable garden
There are many styles and sizes of raised beds you can buy, or you can put together a basic frame yourself. Just don't use treated pine unless it is arsenic-free. Before installation, think about an irrigation system that leads into the soil subsurface so there is no evaporation in summer. Or make a wicking bed that draws water from a reservoir underneath.
You can build a simple vegetable garden bed from just three 2.4m x 200 x 50mm sleepers (choose ACQ or LOSP ‘safe’ treated pine). Use two of the sleepers to form the sides, and cut a third in half to create the ends. Screw them together with 100mm bugle-head batten screws and bury them 100mm into the ground.
Seeds or seedlings?
Once you've got your plot or pots ready, it's time to decide on your medium! Seeds are cheaper to buy than seedlings, but it may be a false economy in terms of the time seeds take to grow and their viability. If you only get 10 seedlings from 100 seeds you’ve put in a lot of effort for a sad result.
Before buying seeds ask yourself: is germination easy? Will germination and growth take too long for the season? Will it transplant well? If not, then seedlings are for you. They’ve survived the early growth challenges and someone else has done all the hard work for you for little extra cost!
How to plan your vegetable garden beds
Since you're likely going to be harvesting by hand, considering access is important. You'll want to be able to get at your vegetables from more than one side or angle without having to step on the soil and jeopardise its mates. If you have the space, consider putting pathways in between your raised garden beds; these can be lined with woodchip, sawdust, or just grass (though keep in mind they will be high traffic!).
Choose vegetables that will succeed in your climate and soil. If you have the space and are planting in-ground or raised beds, start with six or so easy-grow vegetables to build your expertise, such as vine tomatoes, cucumber, dwarf beans and sweet corn.