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April Challenge – Grow Your Own

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  • #242658
    osakasuz
    Member

    There will be a prize for the best participation this month.

    This month’s challenge is all about getting your hands dirty – and growing your own dinner. If you haven’t yet started a food garden, now is the time. Growing your own fresh produce is so rewarding, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. You can lower your grocery bills, reduce your carbon footprint, reduce the ‘food miles’ of your dinner and best of all you can enjoy the taste of absolutely fresh, organic produce straight from your own garden. You’ll know exactly where your veges have been and what happened to them before they got to you. You will notice the difference!

    Excuses?

    … but it’s winter!

    Lots of things can be grown in winter – you just need to know the best things to plant now for your area. In my part of the world, now is one of the best times to plant things like cabbage, peas and potatoes, for example. Those in cooler areas might be considering broad beans, carrots, garlic or spinach.

    … but I don’t have space/ I’m renting!

    Lots of things can be grown in containers. Existing garden beds in rented homes can be adapted to food gardening without making permanent changes. Any spare corner will do!

    … but I don’t have time!

    It really doesn’t take as long as you might think. Some days I spend more time in the garden than others, but really the total time taken to grow almost all of my own fresh produce is less than half an hour a day. You might want to find more time for gardening, once you reap the rewards of your efforts!

    … but I don’t have much money!

    Gardening need not be expensive. Seeds are pretty cheap and you can save and swap seeds once you get going, plastic pots and potting mix don’t cost much, green manure is a very effective way to improve your soil without expensive products. No dig gardening is a great way to make a new garden on a budget.

    … but there are water restrictions!

    Start small so that you have enough water. Then save all the water you can from inside your home – put a bucket in the shower to catch the lovely clean water that normally goes down the drain, put one in the kitchen sink to catch water from washing veges, look through previous threads to find lots of tips and tricks for low water gardening.

    OK, now that those are out of the way, let’s garden.

    First, take a look at the Tutorials (in the Discussion Forum):

    https://www.aussieslivingsimply.com.au/forum/viewforum.php?forum_id=73&rowstart=0

    Scarecrow has a eight-part Food Gardening For Beginners series – these are well worth a read as they provide further links, lots of pictures and helpful information to get you started. These tutorials inspired me to expand my vege garden and helped it to become successful. Lyn Bagnall has several tutorials such as Moon Planting 101; Improving Soils With Green Manures; Planting Trees and Shrubs; and Coping with Climate Change. Lyn’s tips will help you take your gardening to the next level.

    Make a plan this week so you can get started preparing your garden on the weekend. If you are joining this challenge, don’t forget to tell us where you are – climate is important! As a general rule, most of us will be able to grow lettuce, mustard greens, shallots, radishes and Asian veges so think of this as the month that you grow your own salad or stir fry!

    Who’s in and what is your current garden situation?

    #332873
    becca
    Member

    I’m in, I wanted to start up the garden before I get too gigantic anyway. So far I’ve got quite a few herbs which I’m starting to use in our food… I love fresh herbs! :tup:

    I had some lettuces which were quite productive but have gone a bit straggly and bitter… probably expected a bit too much from them in the heat. I’ve got some seeds which I can put in this week and hopefully they’ll be up and running soon. The next thing is to build our garden boxes and get seeds and seedlings in. We’ve had some lovely rain so far this week with some more forecast for the weekend, so I’m looking forward to that! I definitely want to plant some leeks… they’re $2 – $2.95 each (I could be asking a bit much as it’s a bit early, though).

    This is a helpful site as well (I think I got it from Scarecrow as well 😀 )

    http://www.gardenate.com/?zone=2

    tells you what to plant in your area right now.

    We don’t have a lot of money, but I use my “pocket” money to buy plants and seeds for the garden – it’s my hobby, after all, and part of my relaxation, so it works out well.

    #332874
    rentrem
    Member

    There is just nothing better than picking dinner!

    By now I’m just about over the whole preserving, freezing drying thing but to grub up the spuds, dig up the carrots and pick the tomatoes, parsley, basil, lettuce or broccoli/cabbage/beans/silverbeet/squash or whatever will never loose it’s charm.

    I think even if all I had was room or time for a pot I would have to contribute to dinner, it just seems an essential part of my life.

    #332875
    Noodle
    Member

    Yep righto.

    I’m gardening in a small scrubby garden under gum trees in Melbourne. Dismal results thus far, but being the determined thing I am I’ll just keep going back for more.

    I have a few things clinging to life out there now, including an egg-sized eggplant, holey silverbeet, flat-leaf parsley, rocket, and a single zucchini. I could probably pull together a tiny, weird, sad looking dinner now.

    😐

    I’ll see what I can do with this challenge.

    Noodle.

    #332876
    pawprinter
    Member

    We had a lovely vegie garden and overnight it was destroyed by Frost, last week.

    Wendy

    #332877
    Jenah
    Member

    What great timing, I have just started my first veggie patch last weekend! 😀 I have a lot to learn, but I’m up for this challenge.

    #332878
    Mumchook
    Member

    Good challenge topic, Suz! :tup: Something we could & should all be doing even if only in a small way, particularly if one has children.

    In fact it can be quite daunting to think of establishing a full grown vegie garden when starting out so may be best for some to begin small. I certainly did when starting out in a rented property in Sydney years ago when my children were young. In the next rental property I had a great landlord who allowed me to experiment a bit in the garden, so I was able to increase what I planted, and that’s when I really became excited about the whole thing. My first crop of tomatoes was so fabulous and tasted so wonderful I was hooked for life, I reckon!

    😀

    City friends of mine are so chuffed that a pumpkin plant came up in their rose garden of all things and they have one beautiful pumpkin! They are now going to plant some more varieties of vegies in the small space they have.

    Enough rambling… I’m in this challenge, not for a prize but to spur myself on publicly 😮 :confused: 😆 to rejuvenate my vegie garden which once again has been overtaken in parts by weeds after all the rain etc. My life has been very busy lately (what’s new?) and if I don’t get planting some more soon we’ll be buying most of our produce. :rip:

    :wave:

    Ree

    #332879
    jaymes
    Member

    thanks Suz, the job for tomorrow was already to dig over the patch ready for the new spuds :clap:

    #332880
    jennifer g
    Member

    I’m in, we have just planted a range of vegies in the garden and so far they are doing well…..

    #332881
    ali_celt
    Member

    I will be in – my raised bed from last spring is looking very very sunken now so I’ll be picking up loads of horse poo and digging that through, then planting broad beans and… ummm.. well I havent’ decided what else in there yet.

    #332882
    Polly
    Member

    I’m in. At the moment the only things left to harvest for dinner are a few cobs of sweet corn and the ever reliable silverbeet. Our beds have all been cleared and have been prepared for planting this weekend. I’ve got broad beans, silverbeet, lettuces,mizuna, spring onions, tatsoi, pak choy, spinach, leeks, garlic, carrots and spring onions ready to go but I’m really late getting the cabbages and broccoli started. Oh, and I have some green manure mix to sow in the empty beds.

    My winter gardens are usually a BIG flop apart from garlic but this year I’m determined to do it right. Thanks Suz, I need this challenge to keep me focused. :tup:

    #332883

    Okay, I’m in. THis is good timing – was quite disheartened. All the lettuce had been eaten by the possums – cabbage moth attacked the broccoli and the possums finished the rest. So am starting with nothing except a few herbs and some struggling capsicums and the last of the squash. (Only have a small garden yet)

    #332884
    Chookasmum
    Member

    Hi Suz,

    I ‘m in. already have some self sown silverbeet in, some self sown lettuce (thought they were Cos but not so sure, we pick them by the leaf,) transplanted some self sown beetroot, and am going to sow some seeds of carrot, beetroot, parsnip, turnips, swedes etc,

    Probably a bit late here as we have already had about 5 light frosts, but have the seeds and will take the chance, peas will be sown but generally they won’t do anything until the frosts finish.

    Cheers

    #332885
    scarecrow
    Member

    Great to see everyone getting stuck into this challenge! :clap:

    A few basic points to remember…

    start small as Mumcook said :tup:

    start near the back door or front whichever you use the most and gets plenty of light.

    use any containers you like…

    as beginners use bought seedlings, try farmers markets or community gardens for these.

    Click here for Part 4 of the beginners guide will give you some ideas on ‘Fast Food’ growing.

    For anyone really short on room don’t forget about growing sprouts in the kitchen! Just use food seeds (small beans like mung, or lentils work too) from the shops or special ones from seed suppliers Green Harvest have a range: Click here

    Here’s a link for a ‘how-to’ here on this site.

    For those with gum tree problems how about trialling these wicking beds. (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the beginning)

    Folks like me who still haven’t had any rain yet this year (fingers crossed for today) might like to try some wicking boxes…mine are going really well. Click here for these

    This concept might be a bit hard to follow for beginners and a bit much to ask in this challenge but it does work and saves a lot of watering!

    Be prepared to change your thoughts on just what constitutes a meal too.

    Stir fries allow for all sorts of vegies to be thrown in and if you happen to have chookies then a couple of eggs thrown in makes a great meal.

    Don’t overlook some of the edible weeds and flowers either…just make sure you know which ones are safe to eat! :rip:

    #332886
    scarecrow
    Member

    Polly wrote:

    I’m in. At the moment the only things left to harvest for dinner are a few cobs of sweet corn and the ever reliable silverbeet. Our beds have all been cleared and have been prepared for planting this weekend. I’ve got broad beans, silverbeet, lettuces,mizuna, spring onions, tatsoi, pak choy, spinach, leeks, garlic, carrots and spring onions ready to go but I’m really late getting the cabbages and broccoli started. Oh, and I have some green manure mix to sow in the empty beds.

    My winter gardens are usually a BIG flop apart from garlic but this year I’m determined to do it right. Thanks Suz, I need this challenge to keep me focused. :tup:

    Hi Polly and other people of the cold South!

    For us Southerners winter is fast approaching but getting some seedlings in now might just work. The trick is to put them in a sheltered warm spot or create one.

    Last year I made a sheltered bed by stacking straw bales around the cold side. Make sure the North side is clear to allow plenty of sun in.

    Just a few bales to cut down the cold winds can really warm up an area.

    You could even try a mini poly (sorry 😉 ) tunnel. These help keep the chills off too.

    Also dosing them up with liquid feeds, diluted seaweed concentrate really helps to toughen plants up so they can beat the frosts. That doesn’t mean we can plant tomatoes (or other frost sensitive plants) here in the South now though! Stick with the brassicas and other plants you’ve listed and you should be eating that meal soon.

    Liquid feeds are best in the cold months because it’s too cold for the dry manures etc to break down to be of any use to the plants. I have a post about plant based teas here on this link that might be useful.

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