Every weekend I head to mum and dads to raid their veggie patch for my weekly veg, I get such a thrill to see what's new and hear the latest instalment of dads 'war against the snails'.
I have been planning a veggie patch for our new place for a while, but I can't imagine having the time to nurture anything more than a pot of basil!
This is where Maya comes in, she has a busy career, runs popular blog House Nerd in her spare time and still manages to maintain this amazing thriving veggie garden! Thankyou Maya for giving me hope that I too can achieve my dream of homegrown produce!
Words & Images - Maya Anderson
I always wondered why people bothered to grow vegetables – why would anyone bother putting in all the time and effort? Fast forward to now and I cannot imagine not having one! I absolutely love it. I want everyone else to do it. I have become the Jehovah’s Witness of veggie gardens… When a friend buys a new house I am knocking on the door - I check out their alfresco and announce that they could definitely put a veggie garden in!
Once you start, it’s easy to get hooked. I started a veggie garden because I was sick of throwing out frightening unidentified brown things from the veggie crisper that I had forgotten about. When you’re about to start cooking dinner, it’s so nice being able to pick things from the garden and not have to put a bra on to go to the shops (yes I said it). And you’ll swear your homegrown veggies taste extra-good, too.
While you will have to fork out for the costs of starting a vegetable garden, in time it will pay itself off with what you’ll save in buying overpriced veggies from the shops.
Start your garden off on the right foot and all you need to do is water it, clear up dead leaf mess every few weeks and once or twice a year add in some fresh soil or manure. Vegetable gardening can be easy, even if you’re busy, lazy or have a black thumb.
MY TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESS…
Pick the right spot
Try to find a spot in your garden or balcony that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. But don’t worry if you don’t have such a spot, you can still grow some veggies like lettuce, broccoli, spinach and garlic in shady spots.
Invest in good soil up front
Where I live, the soil is nasty, so we bought a truckload of good-quality soil (ask for veggie mix) and sheep manure which cost us about $70 per square metre. “$70 for dirt?” you might cry but if you want to make it grow with minimal effort, it will be well worth it. And your veggies will taste nicer, too!
Buying raised garden bed kits might seem like an unnecessary expense when you can plant straight in the ground, but I love raised beds because you can fill them with good soil from the start rather than trying to enrich poor-quality soil. They also help prevent weeds and keep bugs out, (and keep the plants safe from our dog Nala, who likes rolling on new lettuce seedlings). Line your raised garden with black plastic and newspaper to stop weeds getting through. I like Birdies Raised Garden Kits from Bunnings but you can also plant vegetables in pots, wine barrels, old wheelbarrows and even old wicker baskets like my mum has done.
A bit every day or couple of days, but coming into the rainy season, you can generally get away with watering your plants even less. Water every day in summer.
Plant pick-and-come-again veggies
I love to plant what are often called pick-and-come-again veggies and herbs where you can just cut from them as you need them in the kitchen, like a couple of lettuce leaves for your sandwich. Herbs like chives, oregano and thyme will grow back better the more you cut them.
Don’t be disheartened if you plant something and it dies or gets completely eaten by snails that same night (happened to me with beetroot!) Just move onto planting the next thing. Seedling punnets are cheap at around $2.25 – so just keep trying things until you find what works in your garden and thrives in your soil. It’s part of the fun!
Stay tuned for next week when I will share my favourite easy grow herbs & veggies!
Maya Anderson is a freelance journalist and the blogger behind House Nerd, where she shares gorgeous homes, shops, before and after stories and her DIY renovating adventures.