GYO (Grow Your Own) Vegies is not rocket surgery. Vegies have been growing all by themselves for literally ages. So it really is just a little guidance that you have to offer to get a healthy bounty from your garden.
Vegetables (all plants for that matter) need just four things: Air, sun, water and nutrients. That is it. Finished. So if you go to the nursery or the hardware store and they start trying to load you up with all sorts of lotions and potions and powders and stuff that smells weird my advice to you is to get a second (unbiased) opinion. Remember, they get paid to sell you stuff, not to ask if you need stuff.
Garden beds full of amazing vegies really is easier than you think. It is a simple five step process:
1. Find a site for your garden bed.
You will need a place that gets nice warm sun for much of the day, where water doesn't sit for hours after a massive rain (i.e. it has good drainage). Most yards have a spot like that somewhere. If there aren't any suitable spots you can grow vegies in pots or the like but we will stick to garden beds here. Growing in pots is for another day.
2. Prepare the bed.
Seeds and seedlings are quite small and weak. They want an easy place to live. If you are a plant, what does easy living look like? Well, it looks just like your dream of comfy. It is soft and warm with plenty to eat. So prepare a soft nutritious garden bed and you on the right track. It is easy:
- Kill the grass.
- Soften the soil.
- Add nutrients.
Easier than you think. You don't even need a spade. No sweat either. Lay a good thick layer of newspaper down over the area you want to turn into a garden bed. Cardboard is also fine. Water it down so that it doesn't blow away and it is ready to build a soil biota (soil population of micro organisms) Stopping the lawn from getting light will kill it.
Spread plenty of compost over the newspaper. Kitchen scraps, shredded paper, compost, anything really. If you are patient you can spread anything (organic) over it. Sticks and more carbonaceous material will take longer to break down, but if you are patient, it will become a garden bed eventually. If you use mature compost you can usually plant straight into that. If you use less decomposed material it may take a few weeks or a month to break down enough. That is it! You have a garden bed.
3. Plant your seeds.
Plant some seeds in it (At a depth of about 2 or 3 times the size of the seed), cover the seed with soil, give it a firm but kind pat and water it with rain water (from your rain water tank). It helps to label the seeds so you know what is germinating and what isn't and also to remember what you have put where. Talk to a more experienced gardener as to what seeds to plant as the seed companies are sometimes a bit generous with their sowing 'windows'. We all love fresh tomatoes but it is no good planting them in late autumn (in Orange anyway).
4. Water and watch.
Different seeds require different moisture levels but a good generally rule is to try to keep the bed a little drier than moist at all times. If moist is right before wet, then try to keep them a little drier than that. In the cooler months that will almost take care of itself. In the summer, a evening stroll with the watering can will be required on most day.
Mulching is spreading dry carbon-rich material over the bed while still allowing light and moisture to reach you seedlings. It helps retain moisture and keeps competition from weeds to a minimum.
That is it. This process will take a couple of months from lawn to table but it is well worth it. You will learn a lot and get some of the most nutritious food ever for your efforts. Most of all, enjoy it! There should be no pressure, it should be fun. Start small and as you gain experience and confidence you can enlarge your beds and your crops!
When you start gathering produce from your garden you will wonder how you ever did without it. The time and money you will save will really add up and you new health and vitality will really add a gleam to your eye.