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Advice Needed for a Brand New Newbie!

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    What an absolutely fantastic site and Australian based too.

    This is my first post and I hope somebody will take pity on a brand new newbie and answer some very simple and basic questions.

    I feel a bit of an idiot asking them but I have been stumped for weeks and just can’t seem to move forward:

    I am setting up a vegetable garden – a normally bed and a no-dig bed for the very first time.

    To make the normal bed seems quite straight forward. The soil at home is absolutely shocking, so I believe I will need to build a compost bed and use the composted soil – please feel free to correct me if I have this wrong.

    I have a book which says to make a no-dig garden I will need:

    Lucerne, Compost, Manure and Straw. I don’t wish to appear as a real dingbat, but I have no idea where I can source these from.

    Does any know of any suppliers in Sydney (preferably Northern Sydney) for these?

    I want this garden to be as organic as possible and the book says to avoid manure from animals that have been drenched with worming agents. I would have thought that most animals would have been treated, so this has left me stumped as to a possible source.

    The book also recommends Seaweed as a fantastic manure but says it is very hard to get. Does anyone know of any suppliers?

    At the moment we are fighting a losing battle with possums and a kangaroo in the garden, they eat everything I have tried to grow. So if anyone can recommend a really good protection against them, I would appreciate it. I am not very handy with tools but may be able to follow simple instructions to construct something from wood and chicken wire.

    Thank you for any answers and sorry if I have posted this incorrectly.

    jennifer g

    WELCOME:wave: Moonshadow to ALS! Just remember the only silly question is the one that didn’t get asked! Feel free to ask away. There are much more experienced gardeners here than me that can help you source the materials you need and give advice too, don’t worry, you will have heaps of replies. I just wanted to say Welcome to ALS, it is a GREAT site!:D



    Hey Moonshadow,

    Don’t worry about the questions, you are helping out all us other lurkers.

    You on track, what you have been reading is great. I havent had a garden long but have learnt a few things. Thats the fun of it, try some stuff, see the results and then try something else.

    Compost is great, for me is is a crucial component and should be the first thing you do, get lots of free organic matter, leaves, grass clippings etc. maybe try to source some manure to throw into it. I use rabbit and chicken manure from my own animals.

    Lucerne, Compost, Manure and Straw

    Lucerne and straw you can get from a rural supplies store (norco or CRT in my neck of the woods). Compost and manure too but it is better to make your own compost and get manure from farmers.

    The worming agents in the manure just need a bit of time to be treated in the compost or by worms. I am sure their are plenty of other stuff they are treated with too. If your material spends some time composting it should be good.

    Seaweed is great I have heard, but I havent found a source. I would think source it yourself next time your on the coast. This may be illegal.

    The effort you make in protecting your plants and seedlings is worth it.

    I would suggest a heavier guage mesh around the bottom of the garden enclosure, then a bird netting or shadcloth above. The mesh will allow birds and bees in but stop possums and kangaroos.

    thats my 2 cs. I am looking forward to other responses


    Hi Moonshadow, welcome to ALS. :wave::wave:

    Don’t worry, we all ask silly questions at one time or another.

    I agree with Dave about the worming agents in manure, in time they should break down in the compost, and a great alternative to seaweed, is the liquid seaweed you buy in most garden shops. It has so many uses and is great for seedlings, and also when you move a plant or shrub. It helps to combat transplant stress.

    No advice on the kangeroos sorry, as our section is fenced for our dogs but we do have a few possies visiting our garden, and we just let them browse, as theres more than enough for us all.


    Not the cheapest way to get this stuff, but organic compost, lucerne and other mulches can all be found at your local garden shop. Seaweed is very hard to get, just use a seaweed extract (like Seasol or similar – I think Warm Earth sell a good one, Green Harvest too). Straw and lucerne, even compost and manure can also be found at produce shops (they sell supplies to horse owners – we have them in suburban Brisbane, so there must be some in Sydney too).

    We often get horse manure from local people who leave bags by the side of the road with an honesty box. Haven’t had too much trouble with worms – as other say, just compost it for a bit and it will be fine.

    Good luck and welcome.


    Hi Moonshadow,

    I like your name. i used to chase eclipses (when I wasn’t so committed to work), so we would literally stand under the moon’s shadow. Have a look at my photo album to see.

    The first thing I did before I did anything was to get chickens. Not only will the chickens recycle your kitchen scraps a thousand percent better than a worm farm, but they’ll give you eggs and produce lovely manure for your garden. You’ll have to protect them from foxes though with a good chook run.

    I add lime to the chook manure to neutralize the acidity, and it is a constant source of organic matter and nutrients for your garden.

    I looked into a no dig garden and found it to be really expensive if you are buying all the material. I live in Wollongong and found it difficult to source the supplies anyway.

    I gave up on the no-dig garden and just tried to pack as much organic material into my soil as possible. It took me a while, but I eventually found ways to get all my material for free.

    I get horse manure from local stables, woodchips from the council tree guys, and sawdust from a local sawmill. I recently found mushroom coompost in the region too, but boy, does it stink!

    After a year or two all this stuff will have rotted down and your soil will have changed dramatically. But you don’t have to wait that long to plant things. I use the organic stuff as mulch to smother weeds, then when my plants have finished growing I dig it into the soil. It’s a beautiful system and you can do it progressively as you get the time and resources.

    What type of soil do you have? If you have heavy clay you might have to add gypsum to break it up first, but this mulch & dig system works great for any soil type.

    I hope some of this info helps. A few years ago i probably knew even less than you. My knowledge grew in stages and I’ve never stopped experimenting with the things I could grow or how to grow them. The people on ALS are an invaluable source of information and I constantly pick their brains.

    Good luck with your garden!



    We’ve just Natrakelped all our gardens – can highly recommend the product. Been used here for years and it really lifts the plants. Can also be added to worm farm as a bacteriliser for their food, to the compost as an activator on the nitrogen level and even given to stock in their water. Can also be used to presoak seeds before planting and we use it successfully as an inoculant for grain and grasses for green manure crops.

    Natrakelp is Aust Certified Organic too.

    Always dilute it – 100 mls to a water can.

    Just add lots of organic matter to your garden from wherever you can. Feed the soil.

    Set up soil support systems (eg composting, worm farming, green manure crops) as part of your overall garden plan. Don’t just start a vegie patch without thinking about how you are going to feed the soil after harvest for the next crop…

    Feed the soil….

    Can’t stress it enough – soil is the most important crop you grow.

    Good luck and remember you can always ask. You’ll get lots of different ideas and opinions (we hardly ever fight ;)) and remember to ensure advice is relevant to your micro climate in your local area.




    Moonshadow wrote:

    At the moment we are fighting a losing battle with possums and a kangaroo in the garden, they eat everything I have tried to grow. So if anyone can recommend a really good protection against them, I would appreciate it.

    Hi Moonshadow and welcome :wave:

    Check out this photo and this one from Islander on Kangaroo Island.

    This is how she has to protect her veg garden…it works too :tup: she says has the only productive backyard garden on the Island!


    Welcome to the site


    Welcome to the site, its wonderful and has a wealth of info. I have just found some useful info re seasol as an innoc in this thread too (thanks Sonya). :wave:


    Thank you so much for all of the advice so far…….looks like I have got a lot to learn:D

    Lyn Bagnall

    Moonshadow wrote: I have a book which says to make a no-dig garden I will need: Lucerne, Compost, Manure and Straw. I don’t wish to appear as a real dingbat, but I have no idea where I can source these from. Does any know of any suppliers in Sydney (preferably Northern Sydney) for these?

    Welcome to ALS Moonshadow. 🙂 You can get compost in bulk from Australian Native Landscapes at Terrey Hills. They featured it on the Landline program yesterday. The other ingredients can be sourced from a local pony club – and there are a few up that way. They have plenty of horse poo and they will know where to get the Lucerne and straw. If you can get bulk compost you won’t need much manure, anyway. As they others have said, seaweed is best as an extract such as Natrakelp as you don’t need a lot of it – available at most good nurseries. Hope the garden is coming along nicely. 🙂


    Welcome Moonshadow, :hug:I sympathize with you, gardening is quite hard and expensive in Sydney. Australian Native Landscapes is a great suggestion and you can go to Flower Power nursery at Terry Hills while you are up that way. You can buy your seaweed fertilizers there as no true gardener can do with out them. You can buy manures there too, at great expense.

    If you have space you can make your own compost, great for the soil. I have one of those enclosed ones that don’t encourage vermin and I put newspaper appropriate garden scrapes in, grass clippings and stuff from the garden. It means you don’t have to throw out so much in the garbage bins.

    The other thing you can do if you have rubbish soil is grow veges in pots. I have planted lettuces in pots which seem to be doing really well. As they are on our deck I actually remember to water them.




    Sorry meant kitchen scrapes. The nurseries sell manures that they say are organic, one can only hope it is not false advertising.


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