I haven’t updated you guys on my veggie garden project in a while because there has quite literally been nothing to see! While I bombard you with proud pictures of my newborns, I’ll fill you in on some of the set up work.
Compost. I started a compost pile a few months ago and have been religiously devoting my fruit & veg scraps to it, as well as loose pea straw, stale oaten chaff (from my bunnies) and occassionally a bit of turning and adding water. Things that didn’t go in: banana peels, avocado skin & stones, onion scraps. I also went easy on the citrus scraps. There’s been a couple of weeks here and there where we haven’t had to take our rubbish bin out because it’s practially empty!
Note: Turns out the oaten chaff was a bad idea – grass is now sprouting up in my veggie patch. If you’re going to use chaff, make sure you’re using the “hot composting” method so that the seeds are killed.
Soil. I went to great lengths to get soil that wasn’t already mixed with manure. I know it’s the top choice for veggie gardeners and all the nurseries recommend it but a) I’m a bit different and b) I wanted to avoid using anything that was a by-product of the animal industry. Manure comes from farming animals. So I was hell bent on getting what’s called “sifted soil” or “seconds soil” which is just plain ol’ dirt from nature with nothing added. When I was calling various local soil suppliers explaining what I wanted and why, I was met with confused silence several times.
Fertilising. After filling up the first garden bed, I turned some of my compost through it and let it sit for a couple of days. My compost wasn’t “ready” but the stuff at the bottom looked good enough, so I used it anyway. Then, I did something a bit weird. I made my own fertiliser! And no, I do not mean I recycled my own crap! Haha 😉 I ground the following in my Blendtec (sorry I didn’t use exact portions): alfalfa seeds, flax seeds, agar agar and dulse flakes. I then left them to soak in cold water for a couple of hours before straining, diluting and spraying onto my soil. The strained parts went into my compost bin and the soil was left to rest for a few more days.
Sowing. There wasn’t much to this part. Toss some seeds in, cover with 5-10mm of soil, water daily and hope for the best! Most of my seeds came from Green Patch Organic Seeds and from friends who also have their own veggie gardens. There’s a few things that aren’t showing much promise yet (jalapeno, spinach, coriander & celery), but the rest have been successful so far. I was so scared of things not growing that I tossed in too many seeds too close together. Whoops!
Mulch. I needed something to spread over the top to keep the soil cool. I went for plain ol’ pea straw. It’s cheap and it’ll break down into the soil over time.
“Purple king” climbing bean. Five or six of these shot up, but only one of these has survived the harsh chomp of some punk that thinks they’re rather delicious! I sowed a few more yesterday; fingers crossed.
I’ve strategically planted these behind the lettuce so that when they start to get tall, they’ll provide some much needed afternoon shade for the delicate salad greens.
And here’s a few photos of assorted lettuce – it was the first thing to excitedly spring to life, and it’s taking up around 20% of the garden bed.
I still have another garden bed to fill and plant with goodies so stay tuned over the coming months to hear about its progress!
In the meantime, if you’re a keen gardener, I’d love to know your top tips for success! This experiment has been utterly terrifying for me; I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am that something is actually happening/growing. I check on my babies at least once a day.