Spring is here! With the change of seasons, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy nature in your own backyard. Have you been wanting to grow your own produce but don’t know where to start? Do you want to grow your own veggies, show your kids when food comes from (not in a plastic packet in the shops)? Do you want to reduce your waste, teach your kids how to be self-sufficient? Do you feel a little overwhelmed, unsure where to start and uninspired? Let’s change that! Let me empower you with enthusiasm to create or update YOUR own veggie garden! Let’s get back to basics with some easy steps in 1,2,3!
Do you want to start from a patch from scratch? Big or small, I’ll guide you through it 😊
This is the planning stage.
Boil the kettle, make a cuppa and have a seat. Yup, chill out! Now is the time to breathe and observe your home, your front garden, backyard and your neighbourhood. Watch where your kids like play and where is the sun and shade in the morning and afternoon (better have 2 cuppas a day!).
For most edible plants, you need 6-8 hours of sunlight, though you can successfully grow some plants in the shade. Is it windy at your place, maybe you need a hedge for a windbreak? Do you want a herb garden near your kitchen, a veggie garden down the front or up the backyard? Imagine where you walk in the garden every day (on the way to the chicken coop or rabbit hutch) or where you might like one. If you are sitting outside chatting with a friend (another excuse for a cuppa!), what would you like to see growing? Any other locals hanging out like bees or birds?
Take photos, make note and take a mental picture. Ask the kids to help you draw a mud map, with sun shining and what they would like in the backyard. How big a plot can you manage? Do you want a raised garden bed or ground level? Do you want a small vertical garden? Have a think about what fruits, veggies and herbs you like to cook with and eat and want to grow. What is expensive at the shops that you would use more if readily available. Write down a wish list.
Time to prepare and build.
You’ve decided where is the best location, easy access for tools in the shed, easy to water, gets plenty of sunlight and now what?
How is your soil? Sandy, clay? Compost is your answer to your soil needs! Do you want raised beds or a no dig style?
If you want to have raised beds, make sure you have a level spot. You can build your own raised gardens, get one custom built or buy a flat pack. My favourite ingredients to fill a garden bed is the premium veggie mix rich with nutrients from mushroom compost and cow manure. I add coir peat in raised beds to help retain the water as I find raised beds can dry out. Top with mulch and you are ready to plant!
If you would like a no dig garden, simply build no-till garden. Lay down cardboard of layers of newspaper on the grass, 100mm of veggie mix and top with a thick mulch layer. You can add lasanga layers with chopped leaves, kitchen scraps, blood and bone, grass clippings, aged manure and fresh compost as well. The worms would thank you.
Plant and Enjoy!
You can imagine the taste of delicious pesto made from fresh basil, sweet strawberries that never make it inside, and silverbeet that is so vibrant in colour and full of nutrients. What do you like to eat? Where are you going to plant them?
My favourite plants to grow with the kids to start with are herbs, edible flowers and salad greens. Carrots are fun to grow and always unique shapes. Cherry tomatoes are a generous gift that keeps on giving.
If you want a small vertical garden, it is perfect for growing herbs and salad greens. If you have a 1200mm x 900mm raised garden bed, try a zucchini, silverbeet, a tomato plant, herbs, companion edible flowers and celery is always fun to grow with kids.
If you have a larger plot, consider growing potatoes (now is the time to plant!). Pumpkins are amazing to grow, you can eat the leaves and flowers too!
Whatever you decide to plant, just give it a go! Now is the time to start and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labour!
There are many great stores to buy seeds and seedlings both online and instore as well as the Springwood and Blackheath Growers Markets.
We are blessed in the Blue Mountains to have the first Grow Free Cart in NSW located at East Blaxland that shares seedlings, seeds and produce. There is also one in Springwood.
Nom and Lyttleton Stores are home to 2 of our Permaculture Blue Mountains seed libraries. You are welcome to come and get some seeds for free, swap or donate any extras you may have. Mid Mountains Seed Savers group meets once a month and is a wonderful place to learn about seeds and growing. Crop Swaps are always fun. There are regular meet ups in Katoomba and Springwood community gardens to swap seedlings, produce and seeds. Crop Swap Blue Mountains on Facebook is a great place to swap too.
If you have the desire to grow your own produce and would like some more guidance, DirtMum offers packages to suit every budget. For your own backyard and family, schools, preschools or community centres, DirtMum is all about kitchen garden education. Feel free message and follow on Instagram, Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Articles from DirtMum: