How big is your garden?
Our vegetable garden is roughly 6 metres x 12 metres. We have 24 little raised beds. Each growing space is 90cm x 2.4 metres (2 little beds pushed together). We also grow on the outside of the garden along the fence. I grow herbs all through my flower beds and we have a separate fruit orchard. Sometimes I'll grow vegetables in other areas on our property as well. Most of our vegetables are grown in this space though.
Does it meet all your needs all year long?
No, not always. We eat a lot of vegetables all year round. However, we grow less in summer because of the high heat, and the growing is slower in autumn/winter, so there are some hungry gaps in the garden. There is always something to eat in the garden though even in hungry gaps (herbs, greens etc). When the garden is producing it often far exceeds our needs. We love to share our produce with family and friends, and we freeze/preserve some produce to save for later. Some veges we have trouble growing, so we buy them. For example, we love brussel sprouts but it's too hot where we are for them to set sprouts. So occasionally we buy them. We try and eat as much as we can from the garden though. I try really hard to keep up with succession plantings, so there is always food to eat. It does take a bit of planning though.
Do you really need raised beds to grow a vegetable garden?
No definitely not. I like growing in raised beds, but they are not at all necessary. Most plants love raised beds, but there are a few that prefer to be planted in the ground. I talk more about why we chose raised beds here.
How do you water your garden?
My husband put in a sprinkler watering system when we first built the garden (using poly pipe). I also often use an ordinary hose.
Do you grow all year round?
Yes! But less in summer.
How do you net your garden?
We have heavy duty bird netting stretched across the entire top of the garden. It keeps most of the birds out, but not all of them. We have bowerbirds that are sneaky and have found tiny little gaps to break through to pinch the strawberries. I have no idea where these little holes are. Those bowerbirds are smart and oh-so devious.
Do you add compost and manure to the garden while the plants are growing?
I do add manure while the plants are growing, as well as blood and bone. Particularly for slow growing things like brassicas, garlic, leeks etc. I sprinkle it around the plants (making sure not to touch the plants- as these will "burn" some plants if placed too close). I don't add compost during the growing time though. I'll add a few handfuls of compost when I replace plants during the season so I can dig it in. For eg, I'll grow several beds of quick growing lettuce in a season. When they are done I dig through some more compost and plant again.
Do you rotate plants at the end of each season? Do you add compost when you rotate the garden?
I do try and rotate my plants each season. This is when I top up with compost. I'll also do another top up with blood and bone and manures at this time as well.
I do make compost, but I don't use it on my vegetable garden. I use it on my orchard. I prefer to use weed free organic compost (it is "cooked" and turned for 2 years) that I can buy locally very cheaply (I buy in bulk from a local grower) as I like to minimise the weeds in my garden. My compost always ends up with weeds in it and I really don't want millions of them coming up in my garden beds.
Do you use liquid feed?
I do sometimes use seaweed liquid feed. When I remember to!
Do you have chickens? Do you use them for fertiliser?
No we have no chickens. Maybe one day.
Do you always grow from seed?
No not always. I mostly grow from seed because I like to grow particular things and I like to keep costs down. Seeds are by far and away the cheapest way to grow a garden. Sometimes I'll buy a few seedlings for succession plantings or things that I have trouble growing from seed (for eg, parsley).
What advice can you offer a newbie gardener?
Start small. Don't try to grow everything at once. Pots are a great starting place if you are limited in space. Plant a few things you like to eat. Herbs are really easy and can save you lots of money (if you eat herbs that is!) When you're confident increase your space and try more variety. Just make sure what you are growing is in season. There's no point planting summer veges in winter or planting winter veges in summer. They won't do well. Check the growing information on the seed packet or seedling label to make sure it's the right time to plant.
Thanks so much for all the questions and emails! If anyone else has any questions, feel free to ask away and I'll do my best to answer them in the comments.
Want to start a garden with the kids? I've got a bunch of tips on gardening with kids HERE.
To check out more of my garden and see how we built it, go HERE and HERE.
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