As spring starts it is time to start thinking about what you are going to plant in the garden for your summer vegetable patch or pots.
Can anyone have a green thumb?
The simple answer to this is, YES. Ten years ago, I never saw myself as having a green thumb, I couldn’t keep a plant alive let alone actually grow something. I remember my mum visiting and bringing me a beautiful healthy indoor plant to brighten my house. By the time she would visit again 6months later the same plant would look nothing like how it had arrived, sometimes it was black, dried up but usually it had been thrown away. She would always bring me a new plant the next time. I am grateful that she did that. It wasn’t until I had a Botany class with the amazing Eleanor Tan that my true passion for gardening and herbs truly erupted. So for all of you out there that think they can’t grow their own produce, I am hear to tell you that you definitely CAN.
What I love about gardening is it takes experience to do it well, every year I get more produce and understand what my plants need and can read how well they are going. So if the first year you are unsuccessful, don’t lose hope, keep going and trying different herbs and vegetables until you find things that you can grow. I am not a horticulturist, I am not even a fantastic gardener in comparison to so many others but I think it is important to share that gardening should not be scary, there will definitely be failures, definitely be animals that make your life hard (those cabbage moths) but I know that through all that, it is definitely worth the effort.
Over the years, I have grown all sorts of seasonal summer produce and herbal medicines in pots and a very small 2metre by 1 metre raised garden bed. My favourite spring produce is tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, zucchinis, eggplants, basil, broad beans, purple beans, chamomile, capsicums. I love gardening for many reasons, I grounds me, it disconnects me from the fast pace material world and connects me to this world. I feel gratitude when doing it. I also love that I get to reap the rewards of what nature delivers when you nurture it and give back to it. It rewards with amazing tasting food that you will love even more that you grew it and it hasn’t been stored for days and months, it will truly change the way you see food and buy food.
So I have some simple tips to start you off with your garden:
- Start small – grow something you want to eat – it maybe just one thing (some easy options include tomatoes, lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, zucchinis, cucumbers and radishes).
- Decide where you want to plant? – in pots or in a garden. (you will get better produce in a garden but you can always use pots to grow. In pots the water and nutrients deplete faster so you need to look after them more).
- Start by looking at spaces in your environment you can grow them. Most summer produce needs lots of sun so monitor where the sun shines the most of the day and that is where you will need to place pots or a garden. If you don’t have a space like that look at window sills (for herbs, lettuce, I even grew tomatoes once).
- I recommend first-time growers start with buying seedlings – I am big on growing from my own seeds but when you first start this can be more difficult. So by purchasing seedling there is a higher chance of successful. Growing your own from seeds you can work up to next year or the following. You can now buy good quality organic heirloom seedling from Bunnings the brand is call Diggers. Look out for them as you can save the seeds and grow again the next season ( i will write a post on that down the track).
- Buy certified organic potting mix, I usually mix 50% of mushroom compost with 50% of organic mix or 40% of mushroom compost, 40% of certified organic soil and compost mix and 20% cow or chicken manure . There are many combinations you can use as well as many manures to add but I keep mine simple and use just soil and mushroom compost give it a go.
- If using pots the bigger the better, as it keeps nutrients and water in the soil.
- Mix and loosen the soil combination and give a good water.
- Wait a day then you can place in your seedlings. Take seedlings out of plastic container open up the soil a little at the bottom to open up the roots to grow. Then dig a little space in the garden to place them at the same depth or a little bit deeper that the soil level in the seedling tray. Don’t ever plant seedling too close – all seedlings have details on how much space you need around the plant. I did this the first year and the plants need nutrients from the soil surrounding it. If the seedlings are planted close they compete for nutrients and may not survive.
- Lastly, water the seedling to make sure it settles into space
If you do have any problems with gardening and want to know anything please drop me a line. If I don’t know I will head you in the right direction.
Here are some photos of my last couple of years produce. They are only taken on my phone so the pictures are not the best.
The start of beans growing Garlic
Oregano & mint
Dwarf Lemon tree
For those wanting to grow from seeds, stay tuned for my next gardening instalment.
I source most of my seeds from The Diggers club https://www.diggers.com.au/. This is an Australian run company with a mission to protect heirloom seeds. You can buy diggers seedling in Bunnings currently.