Sunday, 4 November 2007

Container Veggie Gardening

There's no excuse for not growing some of your own food with these veggie gardens that can sit right outside your kitchen door. With the right care, its amazing how much you can continue picking from them. These were only planted out two weeks ago, and have already grown considerably. I used some of the chives and parsley on my omelette today. And of course, once you feel confident with this - its exactly the same principles with a bigger veggie patch.

So, you'll need a recycled polystyrene container from a greengrocer or fishmonger. They will be happy to give these away as due to food regulations, (and just shows what horrendous waste we have here) they can only be used once. A good, deep oblong one is perfect. Punch some holes in the bottom for drainage and lay some newspaper in the bottom. Fill with a 50:50 mix of organic potting mix and coir - which is recycled coconut husks that you buy in a brick from any hardware place for about $2.50. Place it in a bucket of water and leave for an hour, by which time it will have absorbed all the water, and filled the bucket completely. Mix this with potting mix and a handful of blood and bone. Fill container.
Now for the fun part, make holes in the soil mix and carefully plant the seedlings. This box has 3 lettuce down the middle, 2 cherry tomatoes along with a stake at each end, chives or shallots, parsley - 2 varieties, silverbeet, rocket, beetroot (use leaves in salads), bok choy and at each end we pushed in a couple of bean seeds that will grow out and trail over the box. You then need to add a good handful of complete organic fertiliser granules, again - only a couple of dollars from the hardware store and water everything in really well. Add a good layer of mulch such as pea straw, lucerne or anything that is fairly easy to spread around the plants (straw is too long/sharp and could damage the seedlings). I've stood the box on 2 bricks so it doesn't damage the deck and drains better; but it is pretty heavy once its filled with the soil. You can sprinkle some organic snail pellets around the plants if you need to, but I haven't had any problems with pests at all being so close to the house and raised from the ground. When you're learning to grow veggies, there's enough to think about without worrying about every single pest that comes along! Even with veggies in the garden, this is still a great option for last minute extra's to add to meals and alot of fun, especially when you get little children involved in learning all about gardening.
Thanks to BM 'Cittaslow', BM Permaculture Network & BM City Council for promoting home kitchen gardens... contact any of these for future courses or info available from Food Co-op, Katoomba.

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