Posts from the ‘Gardening’ category

How To Grow Green Manures & A Better World For All

Green manure crops are used within a crop rotation cycle to re-nourish the soil in preparation for further annual crops. Our latest AND LAST Crisis Gardening video steps you through what green manure seeds you can grow for both cold and warm seasons and how to do it.

It also explores how we can grow a better world. Because as we still have months/years ahead of us in recovering from covid-19, now is the perfect time to ask ourselves

“what type of world do we want to re-emerge into?”

Instead of going back to business as usual- why not consider going forward and outgrowing the status quo? You can watch the whole video here and read about how to garden both of these things into existence below.

What are some of the common green manure crops?

Green manure for cold seasons

  • Broad beans (also known as faba or tik beans) (Vicia faba)
  • Mustard (Brassica nigra)
  • Peas (Pisum sativum)
  • Lupins (Lupinus)
  • Oat grass (Avena sativa)
  • Rye grass (Lolium rigidum)
  • Vetch (Vicia)
  • Annual crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

Green manure for warm seasons

  • Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Lablab (Lablab purpureus)
  • Soybeans (Glycine max)
  • Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)
  • Millet (Panicum miliaceum)
  • Marigolds (Tagetes)

The benefits

Different green manure options will have different benefits for the soil, as  Sustainable Gardening Australia puts it below…

  • Biofumigants, like marigolds (Tagetes patula) planted in spring, brassicas (Brassica napus and Brassica campestris) and mustard, planted in autumn help to control root knot nematodes and root rot fungal pathogens. These crops must be dug in to release beneficial gases as they decompose.
  • Legumes, like lucerne, clover, beans and peas, which fix nitrogen and will make it available to whatever follows the green manure crop.
  • Weed smotherers include lablab, cowpea, lucerne and buckwheat.

How to plant them

  • We mix up a range of the above seeds in a bowl (usually a blend of mustard, peas and broad beans or lupins) and simply broadcast them across the soil.
  • We then rake them in, not overly worried if some are still exposed.
  • If needed, we water them in – if rain’s coming we let nature water them instead.

Then what?

We make sure they’re never allowed to flower, as once they do the plant starts to put all their energy into flowering/fruiting instead of into the soil. Remember we’re feeding the soil NOT ourselves. So we will slash them down a couple of times over the season to ensure they’re putting all their good stuff into the soil.

Once it’s time for the next crop to be planted, you can either:

  • Dig the plants into the soil (remove any excess green matter from the top of the plant first), slash/mow/sythe them to ground level and leaving the roots in the ground,
  • Plant your crops amongst them (knowing you might have to manage any re-growth) or,
  • You can slash them down, water it and then smother the garden bed with a non-toxic tarpaulin/silage tarp 4 – 6 weeks before you want to plant the next crop. This process encourages all the biology to the top soil level where they eat the whole plant – leaving no trace of it.

This last method is our preferred one as it means you don’t have to dig the soil at all (meaning you don’t disturb the soil food web) and all green manures have perfectly “disappeared” into the soil, with all the biology having eaten and cycled them back into the soil profiles. You can see how a variation of us doing this in our garden here. 

Photo from Longley Organic Farm

Where to source seeds

In Australia we recommend the follow – but check in with your local nursery to find local ones.

How to grow a better world

Green manures are the perfect way to feed, rest and activate your soil simultaneously. Which leads me to how to grow a better world. During these past 10+ weeks of covid-19 lock downs, people have been retreating, hibernating, watching, wondering, resting, feeding and activating their brains with new thinking – sewing new seeds for how we might move forward.

Some of these new “social seeds” we can all start or, continue sewing are listed below with links to impactful organisations and resources already working in these areas.

First Nations Justice

Organisations and resources to help you learn and support First Nations Australians.

  • Original Power – a community-focused organisation that aims to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through collective action.
  • Seed Mob –Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, building a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
  • Amazing book – Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe – Reexamines colonial accounts of Aboriginal people in Australia, and cites evidence of pre-colonial agriculture, engineering and building construction by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Food Sovereignty

  • Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance –The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is a farmer-led organisation made up of organisations and individuals working together towards a food system in which people can create, manage, and choose their food system.
  • La Via Campesina – an international movement which coordinates peasant organisations of small and middle-scale producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities

Regernative agriculture

  • Savoy Global – is the large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands through Holistic Management to address the global issues of desertification, climate change, and food and water insecurity.
  • Regeneration International – promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.

Divest

  • Market Forces – believes that the banks, superannuation funds and governments that have custody of our money should use it to protect not damage our environment.
  • 350.org – an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

Donut Economics

Where our economic system operates within ecological and social constraints and drops the finite growth approach.

  • Kate Raworth website resources and book explaining this concept thoroughly.

Renewable Energy

  • Renew Economy – Australia’s best informed and most read web-site focusing on clean energy news and analysis, as well as climate policy.
  • Beyond Zero Emissions – a climate change think tank, showing through independent research and innovative solutions how Australia can reach beyond zero emissions.

Gender equality

  • Plan International – driving change to advance children’s rights and equality for girls by working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners.

Compassion and Courage

  • This Ted Talk by political strategist, Tom Rivett-Carnac is well worth watching. It’s about approaching crisis with love.

Other resources for a better world

  • Retrosuburbia – a book by David Holmgren that’s recently become available as an e-book that you can pay what you feel. This book outlines how our suburbs can transform for the better.
  • Australia reMADE – a national organisation working toward whole system transformation.
  • From what is to what if, book by Rob Hopkins.
  • 2040 documentary – explores just some of the possibilities available to us.

And look, there’s more than this list (obviously). I haven’t even mentioned healthcare for all, education, housing and adopting a more ethical approach to refugees seeking safety. There are many, many things needing our attention. And while some of us might feel covid-19 restrictions easing and the sense of crisis lifting. We need to remember that there’s also the ever-present climate crisis here, waiting for us to address it effectively.

Here’s the good and interesting news. A lot of what we’ve already been doing in response to covid-19, i.e. relocalising our diet, flying less, walking/riding our bikes more, working from home where possible, fostering more community (albeit online) – everything – is actually in line with what we need to do to address the climate crisis (except please f*#k off forever physical distancing). But we now know we can make global changes quickly and effectively – if the will is there.

So please my friends, please go forth and sew both those green manure and social seeds to re-nourish our soils and societies towards a better world for all. We are more powerful than we think.

This clever artwork by Brenna Quinlan captures it all…

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How To Propagate Plants From Cuttings: AKA Free Plants!

Learning how to grow plants from cuttings is a liberating activity. You’ll never see the world the same again and you’ll always carry secateurs with you just in case you walk past an interesting plant you’d like to grow yourself. For week 9 of our Crisis Gardening series, we show you how easy it can be. You can watch the video here and read about the process below.

Our prop station in action which you can see more of here

Firstly, there are three main types of cuttings, softwood, semi-hardwood and hardwood. I’m focusing on the hardwood cuttings for this blog and video. Depending on what plant you’re taking cuttings from (and what season you’re in) will depend on the type of cutting you take – be sure to research for the particular plant you’re working with.

Hardwood cuttings are taken from dormant, mature stems in late fall, winter, or early spring. Plants generally are fully dormant with no obvious signs of active growth. The wood is firm and does not bend easily. Hardwood cuttings are used most often for deciduous shrubs but can be used for many evergreens. 

Softwood cuttings are prepared from soft, succulent, new growth of woody plants, just as it begins to harden (mature). Shoots are suitable for making softwood cuttings when they can be snapped easily when bent and when they still have a gradation of leaf size (oldest leaves are mature while newest leaves are still small). For most woody plants, this stage occurs in the warmer months (i.e summer). The soft shoots are quite tender, and extra care must be taken to keep them from drying out. The extra effort pays off, because they root quickly.

Semi-hardwood cuttings are usually prepared from partially mature wood of the current season’s growth, just after a flush of growth. This type of cutting normally is made from mid-summer to early autumn. The wood is reasonably firm and the leaves of mature size. Many broadleaf evergreen shrubs and some conifers are propagated by this method (NC State Extension). 

The prop mix

We use a 50:50 mix of coarse potting sand and coco peat for any type of cutting. The sand provides good drainage and the coco peat provides water retention. You don’t need any compost or garden soil as the cuttings don’t require any nutrients at this stage of growth.

The finished prop mix, ready to be planted into

Taking the cuttings

Choose a small hardwood branch with lots of nodes on it. Nodes are the little things sticking out the side where usually leaf would grow from. Once buried in your prop mix, this will be where the roots come out of. You need to have a 3 – 4 nodes buried in your prop mix, so overall try to have at least 6 nodes.  Below you can see a cutting from a Salvia Leucantha bush, being an evergreen I made sure to little bit of leave on top to help it photosynthesise – deciduous plants don’t need any leaf remaining. You can read more about this type of Salvia here.

A cutting with a small leaf left on the top and 7 nodes. 

Planting the cuttings

When it comes to planting, you can choose to dip each cutting into a rooting hormone (of which there are many). We often just dip them in honey which is anti-bacterial and can also help with root growth.

Then, you can simply pop them into some pots with the prop mix. As you can see below, you can plant them very close. After a month or so you’ll notice small roots coming out the bottom of the pots – this is one way to know they’re reading to be transplanted into larger pots of their own.

From here, we simply make sure we water the cuttings as needed and pot them up when they’ve struck roots.

Cuttings are an under utilised option for growing a huuuuuge amount of plants easily and affordably. Even I don’t do it enough. So lets all remember that the whole world is our garden and crack on with it!

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How To Keep Chickens: Tips & Tricks

Over the many years of keeping chickens we’ve tried lots of systems and techniques for housing, feeding and managing them. For week 8 of our Crisis Gardening series we made a video about some of the current systems that make it work really well. You can watch it here, or just keep reading :-).

The deep litter system

Chooks are originally jungle birds and need a deep litter to scratch into – you never want them on bare earth as it’ll become stinky, unhealthy mess. Instead we put in loads of dry carbon materials to soak up all the poo and rain so it’s never stinky. Once-twice a year we dig the whole thing out and replace it with fresh carbon (i.e. woodchips, straw, brown leaves). The stuff we dig out heads straight to our compost bays or our orchard – which the trees love.

Older deep litter on the left we’re digging out and some fresh woodchips that will replace it all. 

Chook house

Our “self-cleaning” chook house is a winner. We never have to crawl in there to dig out poo, it’s easy to harvest eggs and the ladies are nice and comfy in there. You can read all about it on a previous blog we wrote here.

But what about foxes?

We don’t have foxes in Tasmania (I know, amazing), this means we don’t have to build really secure structures to lock them up in each night. If you do have foxes (or other predator animals), then we recommend building a straw yard as explained here by our dear friends at Very Edible Gardens.

Chicken tunnel

The little chook tunnel helps connect the chooks to their green foraging area where our young hazelnut shrubs live – and lots of grass and weeds. They love it in there and we love it because it means they can help themselves to fresh greens whenever they like. Win win!

The chicken tunnel/passage can been seen above. It connects their main yard to their house, then to their feeding station and then down this passage behind our compost bays, under a little tunnel and into the forage section which you can see below around our rain tank.

Chook feeder

This has been a life changing system for feeding our chooks. They can feed themselves and not attract unwanted flocks of birds or rodents – seriously, seriously great. You can read all about it here on a previous blog we wrote. 

Overall, we can’t imagine a home without these feathered friends. They’re a wonderful addition to any home, helping turn it into a thriving, pumping place of production, rather than just consumption.

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Grow Your Own Immune Boosting Tea

For week 7 of our Crisis Gardening series we’re covering how you can grow (and make) your own immune boosting tea, or “immune-a-tea” as I like to call it.

Right now the whole world is trying to stay healthy, or get healthy – fostering a strong immune system is something we can all do to help this. This can happen in a range of ways, including drinking daily cups of this herbal brew. You can watch the whole process here, and read about it below.

The 5 herbs you’ll need are…

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Peppermint (Mentha × piperit)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Can you use dried herbs instead?

Yes! If you’re not able to grow your own, you can buy them from a shop :-).

How to make the tea?

  • Pick equal amounts of the above plant, specifically the leaf of lemon balm, thyme, peppermint, the flower of the calendula and the leaf and flower of the yarrow.
  • Put them all in a large tea pot, add boiling water and cover it with a lid to steep for at least 10 minutes.
  • Drink one – three cups per day for maximum benefits.

How are these plants good for you?

  • Thyme leaf – lung tonic, anti-bacterial, antispasmodic (for coughs), relaxing expectorant
  • Peppermint leaf – digestive, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic (induces fever)
  • Calendula flowers-  anti-inflammatory, wound healing, immune stimulating, anti-bacterial
  • Lemon balm leaf – anti-anxiety, antiviral, digestive, mood uplifting, diaphoretic (induces fever)
  • Yarrow leaf and flowers – diaphoretic (induced fever), tonic, adaptogen

How do I know this?

I consulted with local naturopath Moncia Fancia who provided this recipe (thanks Monica) – you can normally find her working with the renowned Goulds Naturopathica or with Hobart Herbalists Without Borders. Monica and her colleagues have a wealth of knowledge and skill – can’t recommend them enough!

We wish you all good health!

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Three Ways To Grow Potatoes: From Your Balcony To Your Backyard!

From the balcony to the backyard, there’s a method for everyone to grow some of their own potatoes. Originally from South America, these small balls of goodness contain high vitamin C (amongst other nutrients) are one of the only carbohydrates you can grow yourself and there are literally thousands of varieties to choose from.

Our latest Crisis Gardening video shows you three ways you can grow your own. You can watch it now here.

1. The pot (or hessian sack, tree bag or maybe even a pillowcase)

This is the method for people with tiny amounts of space. Think balcony, courtyard or perhaps you’re renting and aren’t allowed to dig up the lawn.

You can buy a “potato bag” from a nursery, or use a hessian sack, tree bag or really probably a pillow case. Please note, I’m yet to try a pillow case, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for one season only (it’ll break down quickly).

2. The in-ground method

If you’re starting with lawn, this involves a fair amount of digging and weeding. It’s perfect for folks without access to lots of resources to build a no-dig garden. Due to covid-19, it can be tricky to source big loads of mulch and/or compost – so we really wanted to show you this method as well.

3. The no-dig method

This is our preferred method as it looks after, and fosters fantastic soil health. Wherever possible we always work towards a no, or minimal till approach to gardening so we minimise/eliminate how much we disturb the soil profile. BECAUSE, each time you dig the ground you’re releasing carbon into the atmosphere and destroying the structure of the soil. Sounds very dramatic – because it is. You can read/see a bit about no-dig gardening over here on a previous Crisis Gardening vlog.  You can also watch Mr Peter Cundall demonstrate another version of the no-dig potato bed here. Thanks Pete.

When to plant your potatoes

Late winter or early spring is the normal time to plant them – a few weeks before your last frost. Frost harms the leaf, so you’re looking to avoid the cold snaps. We’ll be planting a crop in then, however we’re also doing one in late Autumn (now) as we don’t have heavy/significant frosts on our property. This crop will grow slowly over winter and we’ll harvest it in spring. It wont be the biggest yields, but it’ll be some of the earliest in the region – and that’s what we’re after.

Dutch cream spuds already sprouting. This process is called “chitting” – by sprouting them before you plant them out, they’re getting a head start on growing. 

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Eat Your Weeds: Especially Dandelion!

Week 5 of our Crisis Gardening series has us looking at our weeds – and eating them. Specifically the mighty dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale).

Now, it’s slightly crazy that we spend so much time pampering “traditional” vegetables in the garden when some of the weeds growing in our lawn are significantly more nutritious than they’ll ever be. Take dandelion for example, this beauty of a plant is one of the most nutritious plants EVER tested by the US Department of Agriculture. It’s high in iron, calcium, vitamins A, B6, E and K, thiamin, antioxidants and beta- and alpha-carotene (The Weed Forager’s Handbook).

Obviously we all need to be eating dandelion! Watch our latest video here to get you started. 

More information

  • If you’d like to read about the process, you can also read a much older blog of making dandelion tea (aka dandelion coffee) here. 
  • The Weed Forager’s Handbook: You can buy your own copy of it here

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Hot Composting Video

If you’ve got lots of bulk organic matter in your garden, then hot composting is for you. It’s a great way to process large amounts of material to cycle it back into your landscape to improve soil health and ultimately, grow more food.  You can watch our latest covid-19 Crisis Gardening video to see how we do it in our own garden here.

Additional hot composting resources we’ve created over time include:

In conclusion, compost (in its many shapes and forms) is an essential part of living a good life. Whether you’re doing it in your backyard, community space or your local Council’s facilitating it for/with you – get into it. There’s nothing more satisfying than turning all that comfrey and spoiled straw you can see below into dark brown nutritious compost for our garden!

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Food Waste Composting Video

Food waste composting – it can be a baffling affair, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be a glorious, slightly magical process to help facilitate.

We’ve just popped up another little backyard video as part of our Covid-19 Crisis Gardening series, showing three ways people can compost their food waste – you can now watch it here.

A little disclaimer – it’s so hard for me to put this very brief overview up as I know there’s a million more bits of information that I missed out on telling y’all. For example, things to NOT put in a small compost bin (as seen above) include:

  • Weedy plants, i.e. runner grasses, oxalis and seeds from invasive species. As it’s a cold compost they wont break down and you’ll end up spreading them everywhere!
  • Diseased plants – if you’re plant’s sick, bin or burn it instead of putting it into your compost bin.
  • Large bits of meat/bones.
  • Glossy paper/magazines (too much heavy ink).
  • Some tea bags have polypropylene plastics – check with the brand if you’re not sure.

So be sure to dig a bit deeper into some of our free resources below for a lot more information and inspiration for you to wrap your beautiful brains around.

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Winter Cropping: What to plant now (& how)

This blog and accompanying video is dedicated to folks in temperate/cool temperate climates, which is where we live. Right now it’s Autumn (late March) and we’re doing some of our last winter plantings to make sure we can eat for months to come. Here in cool temperate Tasmania we have very specific windows in which we can plant crops to make sure we can eat from our gardens all year round. If you miss the windows, you miss out on a good garden. Don’t miss the windows.

Due to covid-19, there are a lot of us at home right now and a lot of us are wondering how to secure reliable fresh food for months to come. Ideally you’d grow some of it yourself. Our latest video shows how you can do just this,  you can check it out here.

Crops to plant now for winter eating (and beyond)

DS = Direct sewing and T = transplanting

  • Carrots – DS
  • Beetroots – DS
  • Parsnip – DS
  • Broad beans – DS
  • peas – DS
  • Asian greens – DS
  • Broccoli – T
  • Kale – T
  • Cauliflower – T
  • Celery – T
  • Lettuce – T
  • Leeks – T

Other quick growing crops people can plant now FOR MOST CLIMATES can be seen on our last  video and accompanying blog we did last week here.

Are you in a warmer climate?

For people in warmer climates (i.e. subtropical) check out Robyn Francis’s planting guide.

The key thing to remember

Is that there’s always something you can be planting or doing in a  temperate or cool temperate climate – always. To help you – check out Peter Cundall’s planting guide to help you know what to plant and when for Tasmania and other temperate areas.

Good luck – have fun and just know that gardens are incredibly forgiving, so if it doesn’t work out on your first go, be sure to keep going back for another crack!

 

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Fresh Food Fast: How to grow veggies you can eat within 8 weeks!

We’re living in deeply uncertain times with covid-19 ripping through our world – everything is changing dramatically and quickly *for everyone*. When in crisis we need to look for the opportunities – stuff that can hold us up and stuff that we can control to bring us the goodness and resilience we need. Growing some of our fresh food does this and is one of the most sensible things we can do right now.

Goodbye lawn and hello edible landscapes! Here’s six different ways you can grow food for free (or very little) in your back/front yard, in your courtyard, your balcony or kitchen bench. I also made a backyard video you can watch over on YouTube SHOWING YOU these six different methods in action.

What food can you actually plant right now? (Autumn in southern hemisphere)

This list can be planted in most parts of the world now – if possible, check with your local nursery or garden group to confirm your best options. Also see planting guides here for the rest of the year here for cooler climates, here for the subtopics (zone 2) and here for other climates).  If you’re wondering what climate you live in (for Australia) see this page to help you out.

QUICK crops you can eat within 8 weeks: All can be planted as seeds, directly sowed (DS) into the soil. 

  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Mizuna
  • Amaranth
  • Silverbeet
  • Kale
  • Asian greens
  • Spinach
  • Lettuces
  • Rocket
  • Coriander

LONGER crops you can plant now and eat within 8 – 12 weeks: DS = Directly Sowed, T = Transplanted as seedlings

  • Carrots – DS
  • Beetroots – DS
  • Swedes – DS
  • Garlic – DS
  • Brocoli – T
  • Leeks – T
  • Cabbage – T
  • Broad beans – DS
  • Peas – DS

Where to place your garden?

If you’re gardening outside, some things to consider include…

Sun: If you’re in a cool climate, make sure you place your garden where it get full (or lots) of sun. If you’re in a warmer climate, you also need lots of good sun, but keep in mind when summer rolls around, you may need to provide some shade for it to thrive.

Water: You need to have easy access to water to irrigate the garden as needed. This can simply be a hose and tap.

Access: Make sure it’s easy to get to and monitor your garden. Ideally it’s close to your house and you can see it from one of your windows so you can peek out and check on it as needed.

Protection: If you live somewhere with wildlife pressure like us in Tasmania (i.e. possums, deer, wallabies etc), then you’ll need to fence your garden to keep them out. Keep it simple, it can be some timber/steel stakes and a roll of wire mesh or netting.

Soil preparation

BEFORE YOU PLANT ANYTHING, YOU NEED TO PREP YOUR SOIL. Sorry to shout, but it’s really important. There are many, many great methods for you can learn about, here are a few to get you growing quickly that will either cost you nothing, or very little. 

In-ground method

For folks with limited access to materials and funds, this method just requires an existing lawn, a shovel and some seeds or seedlings.

Dig the desired area of ground and weed out the grass, add a border around the bed to prevent the grass from coming in. Make sure the ground is level and plant directly into the bed.

Be prepared for some weed pressure and some grass/weeds will grow back. You’ll need to manually weed these out.

The easiest in-ground garden bed option. Simply weed out the lawn and add a border (like a moat) to stop grass coming back. 

Sheet mulching

This method is for folks with weed pressure and who can source some cardboard/newspaper and compost.

Do the above method outlined above for in-ground gardening and then add a layer of wet newspaper or cardboard over the top, making sure there’s no gaps in between the sheets.  On top of that add a 5cm later of compost. You can plant seedlings into this immediately by punching a hole through the newspaper. The cardboard layer slows weeds coming back. They’ll still come (and need manual weeding), but this gives you some breathing space.

Wet cardboard to slow weeds coming back with a thick layer of compost (or aged manure) to feed the soil. 

No-dig Gardening

For people with really poor soils (too sandy/rocky or heavy clay), no-dig gardening allows you to build up. This method requires you to bring in all the materials, so only suitable for folks where that’s actually an option. See “box gardens” below for a smaller alternative for above ground gardening.

Strawbale Gardens

Want something super easy and quick? This one’s for you. Again, you have to bring in all the materials, unless you already happen to have some bales lying around your garden.

This is a short-term, one season type of garden where you simply put a series of compost pockets (2 handfuls of compost) directly into the bale and plant your seedling immediately – plus add water. You’ll get a great crop for one season, at the end of which the bale will have started to break down. At this point you can compost the whole bale or use it as garden mulch for another section of your property.

Box Gardens

Box gardens are for those who have no access to earth and limited space, i.e. balconies and courtyards.  Styrofoam boxes can be sourced from local grocers and are small enough that they’re easy to move around. Some will need to have holes punched through the bottom for drainage, while others come with holes. It’s a good idea to add a layer of coarse woodchips or blue metal stones to increase drainage.

Growing Sprouts

If nothing else, you can grow sprouts on your kitchen bench. All you need is a jar, some whole lentils, water, and a clean bit of cheese cloth or a tea towel. You can also use a range of other pulses or seeds – lentils are are go to favourite. You can see the SIMPLE process below – thanks to The Lean Green Bean for these graphic. You can also see a video on the process from our dear friends at Milkwood  over here.

Seed Raising

If you are growing from seed, you might consider growing some crops in seed trays (or egg cartons) in a more controlled microclimate (inside near a sunny window). There are many different recipes for making seed raising mix. We make our seed raising mix with the following – you can also buy some pre-made.

  • 2 parts compost – to provide nutrients
  • 2 parts coco peat – to retain moisture (you could also used aged sawdust/fine woodchips)
  • 2 parts coarse sand – to provide drainage

Where to buy seeds?

In Australia, we use Seed Freaks, Southern Harvest and Diggers as our main ones – but there are so many more. Please post where you source your seeds in the comments below for others to read. Thanks!

The secret to good gardening?

There are a few key things that will help you succeed…

  • Water – make sure you provide adequate water. Notice if it’s been raining (or not) and do the moisture test of sticking your finger in the soil. If it comes out wet – it doesn’t need watering, if it comes out dry then you need to water. I know – so high tech.
  • Weeding – all gardens will need to be weeded at some stage. The hot tip is to weed often when they’re young as it’s 100% easier to remove them then before they become established.
  • Turning up and paying attention is one of the most important keys to successful gardening. This is where you’ll notice any problems and address them.
  • Having a crack! Just have a go, gardens are very forgiving, don’t care if you stuff up (numerous times) and want to grow. Just start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.

Good luck, have some fun with it and may it nourish you and your loved ones. Together (while apart) we can do this.

One more thing

If you reeeeaaalllly wanna chat and learn from us face-to-face (in a remote kind of way), we now offer online consultations which you can read about over here.

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