Preparing The Garden Space

You have decided you want to start a garden and grow your own herbs and veggies, now what? Before you rush out to buy your seedlings you need to get your garden space ready. There are a ton of sites on the internet that will give you good information on what particular plants need and we don’t plan to reinvent the wheel here. Over on the side is a collection of links to sites that have good information. The aim of this post is give some tips on getting your space ready for planting, we will talk about the specific requirements for particular plants when we do blog posts about them.

Tip #1 – know what your plants need and prepare the soil accordingly ie do they need a lot of composted matter, are they heavy feeders? Blueberries for example need lots of peat moss dug in where they are going to be planted to get the soil pH right. We mostly use chicken manure, blood and bone and seaweed extract (not all at once). We are also looking to do better on the composting front and recycle kitchen and garden waste into a useful soil improver.

Tip #2 – check how much sunlight your proposed garden will get. Most vegetables need 6 hours sunlight a day but many will tolerate shade. Also remember in a Queensland summer temperatures can hit 40°C or more so shade cloth might be required.

Tip #3 – plan your watering system before you plant. Hardware stores have a huge array of irrigation systems for the home gardener and in these days of water bills it is a great way to make sure you are not wasting water. Mulching well is another great way to save water.

Tip #4 – automate where possible. Gardens are a lot work and we are alternately busy or lazy so automating what we can ensures simple things like the garden getting watered. We put in a computerized watering system years ago and it was one of the best things we ever did. Husband has dabbled in hydroponics over the years too and has automated timers to turn pumps on and off in case he forgets.

Tip #5 – have an organized work space where your garden tools and supplies are kept. Nothing worse than spending an hour looking for something because it was never put away! You can also see quickly if you are running low of particular garden supplies.

What about you? Do you have any tips for planning your garden space that you would like to share?

Where To Start?

We have always had a garden of some sorts as I have long been interested in growing and using herbs in my cooking. Over time that has evolved to include vegetables, fruit trees and lately blueberries. So if deciding what to grow for the first time, where do you start? A few things to consider –

What do you like to eat? What plants do you use a lot of in the kitchen? No point growing something or using up valuable garden space on something you will ultimately throw away.

Will it grow easily where you live? Some plants just wont grow well in particular climates or soil types so you need to figure out if it is viable for your area. Some varieties are better suited to particular climates/areas as well eg garlic, most supermarket varieties wont grow well north of about Coffs Harbour. Google truly is your friend here as there is a wealth of information on the internet about how to grow various food plants and where they grow best and we don’t intend to reinvent the wheel.

Is it cost effective to grow it? Once you factor in the cost of water, fertilizer, time and effort, degree of difficulty, space available, pest control, etc you might just be better off buying that particular fruit or vegetable. Carrots for example are very cheap and readily available so we tend not to grow them. Garlic on the other hand is something we do grow because freshness and quality cannot be guaranteed at the supermarket. Fresh herbs are hideously expensive and generally don’t last long so it makes a lot of sense to grow them especially if you use lots of them.

Having your own herb and vegetable garden can be extremely satisfying as well as frustrating but nothing beats the taste of fresh produce from your own garden! We have chosen to try and eat real food and to steer away from the additive and preservative packed supermarket brands where possible so for us that means growing what we can and learning how to effectively preserve and use it in the kitchen.

What about you? Are you growing herbs or veggies in your garden?