12 May 2011
In this article we will be talking about how to grow a load of seriously tasty veggies in a recycled polystyrene veggie carton, and some soil and stuff of course! Why a recycled polystyrene veggie ... carton? They are a good size, readily available quite often for free and they are light and easy to move around so it makes sense to use polystyrene boxes if you can get hold of them.
Reasons why you might want to make one of these little white marvels include –
- A veggie box is a good way to start small if you are new to veggie gardening, and
- You can add more boxes as your confidence and interest grows,
- They are a great project to do with the kids, you never know they might be the start of a lifetime of gardening,
- They make a great present for a family member or friend who isn’t a veggie gardener,
If you are in rented premises you can pick up and take your veggie garden with you if you have to move, or the landlord won’t let you dig up the lawn.
The process is simplicity itself!
1. Get hold of the polystyrene box and make sure that it has sufficient drain holes to precent water logging. If there are no drain holes, like with a broccoli box then cut or push some through using a hot wire or hot soldering iron etc. Holes can be drilled into the polystyrene but it creates a whole stack of little white balls that get EVERYWHERE!
2. Half fill it with grass clippings and weeds making sure that none of the weeds have a seed head that will create problems afterward. It would also be better to leave out things like wandering jew or couch grass runners unless they have been left to dry out in the sun first, just in case. The weeds will decompose slowly and provide nutrients for the veggies so to get a better result use a mix of weeds providing a mix of nutrients.
3. Get hold of or make some good quality potting mix. If you want to make it you could try the 1 sand: 2 worm castings or compost:3 cocopeat mix or if you are buying it in get some middle of the range stuff (not too el cheapo) that is designed for growing veggies. Fill the box right to the top, the soil surface will drop somewhat as the weeds decompose.
4. Plant appropriate veggie seeds or seedlings , these may include –
BROCCOLI - Mini; broccolini
CABBAGE - Earliball ; Sugar Loaf ; Golden Acre
CAPSICUM - Most varieties can be grown in containers and are non-hybrid.
CARROT - Baby carrots are most suitable eg. Baby Pak , Baby , Amsterdam Forcing or Thumbelina.
CHILLI - As for capsicum .
CUCUMBER - Bush varieties eg. Spacemaster
EGG PLANT - Most varieties eg. Short Tom or Long Purple.
LETTUCE - Cos eg Romaine or Cos Green; Butter Head eg Buttercrunch or Green Mignonette
ONION - Any spring onion ( shallot ) variety.
PUMPKIN - Bush pumpkin eg Golden Nugget or Bush Butternut.
RADISH - All varieties are OK.
SILVERBEET - Fordhook Giant
SUMMER SQUASH - Bush varieties such as Early White Bush or Marrow , long white
TOMATOES - Small bush varieties eg Tiny Tim or Small Fry and "Egg" Tomatoes eg Roma.
ASIAN VEGETABLES - Many of these also lend themselves to container gardening for example Adzuki Beans; Pak Choi; Chinese Mustard; Mizuna; Mibuna and Chinese Broccoli.
5. Mulch any seedlings with a light mulch such as sugar cane but don’t mulch areas where seed is planted, particularly small seed like carrot or it may have difficulty breaking through once it is germinated.
Keep your box ‘o’ veggies in the sun, but near at hand so that you can harvest them when you need them. Even if you are an experienced grower it can be nice to have salad veggies or herbs in a box near the back door when it is cold and raining.