While I’m no gardening professional, I do get asked a lot about our veggie patch, so I thought I’d share my tips and how we got our veggie patch up, running and thriving.
When we bought our home, we had the cutest veggie patch already in the yard. We grew so much fresh produce, but when I fell pregnant with Kyle and business was getting busier and busier, it was our veggie patch that suffered the brunt of our lack of time. It was overgrown, had gone to seed, and was neglected. The easiest option for us at this point in our life, was to spend a weekend taking it out and laying grass for the kids to have more space to play.
Little did we know that in a couple of years time, we’d have streamlined our production processes with work to free up our time, and our children would be at an age where they’d want to grow a veggie patch too. Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? So in our true form, we have been slowly but surely growing our veggie patch back up, and the whole entire family have been loving it!
As a little girl growing up, my Dad would always have the best veggie gardens growing, and he would take so much pride in them. Growing my own and giving my boys the same memories and values is something I’ve always wanted to do.
I find myself out there, every single day. And more than once. It’s nice to be out there in nature, caring and looking after something other than the kids (hahahaha!), the house, or ourselves. Its a peaceful time of the day where even the boys become peaceful and get lost in the moment helping look for new produce that has sprouted, weeding it, trimming it, picking fresh veggies and herbs.
In May 2017 for Mother Day, the boys gave me my first veggie patch to start off our garden. We decided we would gradually grow our veggie patch in stages as with our previous veggie patch, we had 5 patches all growing strongly at the one time and we couldn’t eat it quick enough! So starting small and working our way up this time would help with planting the vegetables at different stages to each other. While one patch is flowing with ready to eat veggies, the other is almost ready and the other is starting out.
We used treated pine sleepers from bunnings from around $5 per length and ordered organic veggie soil from the nursery. This is a much cheaper way of doing it rather than buying bags and bags and bags of soil and delivery didn’t cost so much either. Before filling the patches with soil, we laid down a weed mat (overlapping it twice to be sure). We then filled the patches right to the brim with soil to allow the soil to settle over the next couple of weeks. We started our first patch with seedlings from the nursery, silverbeet, cauliflower and snow peas to start with. I made a teepee out of bamboo stakes for the snow peas to grow on. About 6-8 weeks later we had produce ready for harvest!
We then added in our second veggie patch, this one would be for all the herbs, edible flowers and extra flowers to attract the bees into our veggie patch. Bees are so important for veggies just as much as they are for flowers as they help with the production of vegetables by pollinating the flowers required for producing vegetables and fruit, like tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, strawberries. Some bees also help deter pests from the garden! I planted lavender in my patch as well, because the bees were all over it in the nursery so I got one haha! I also found it’s edible as well!
Around our second veggie patch, I added some besser blocks around two edges of the patch, on sides that I knew would need some shade to get through summer as our patches are in full sun. In the besser blocks, Kurt and I planted seeds and grew our own tomato seedlings. We went a little heavy handed on the planting of these and have ended up with an abundance of tomato seedlings! You’ll most likely see me down on the main street soon trying to sell off our tomatoes haha! Once they became seedlings, I moved them into our third patch we added in, which is a double stacked patch as I wanted depth in this garden to allow for growing vegetables like potatoes later on. Now that the besser blocks are free, I have planted sunflowers on one side and have cherry tomatoes and tomatoes on the other. These grow tall which will create shade of an afternoon for my herbs. The sunflowers will also help to attract the bees.
When our cauliflower started sprouting, my first few cauliflower heads went pink as I didn’t know I had to use their leaves to protect their heads from the sun. So wrapping their heads with their leaves and securing them with rubber bands is very important!
After our cauliflower was harvested, we planted a heap of different salad leaves like baby spinach, lettuce, rocket and kale that will be ready come summer. We also replanted our snow peas as they all grew and the plant died off. We also added brussel sprouts which has been my biggest mission yet as the white moth just LOVE to lay eggs and have the caterpillars eat that to pieces on me. I wanted to keep our garden chemical free, but when we arrived home after a weekend away to find the brussel sprouts and kale almost gone to caterpillars, I got some pyrethurium spray from Bunnings which helped stop the white moth coming near my patch. My brussels and kale have grown back strongly, still with the white moth making an appearance every few days so its important to keep on top of the pyretherum! I have been told though that the pyretherum does work wonders at keeping the bad bugs away, but it also deters the good bugs also. I’ve been told of some natural methods to try, such as broken up eggs shells on top of the soil, ground coffee beans, I’ve also been told that white moth are a very territorial, so making butterflies out of a milk carton and stringing them in your garden can also help. I have tried that trick but unfortunately for me, I haven’t been successful.
When it comes to watering, we water every second day at the moment as we haven’t had hot weather. Obviously if it rains, then that’s done for the day for me. Every 6 weeks ill use a blood and bone feeder to water the patch with also.
I’m always in the garden picking off the dead bits to help keep the soil and vegetables in top condition as too easily can mould and bacteria appear in a veggie garden. One of my favourite tricks I love is one my Dad has taught me about tomatoes. It’s growing one big long stem with a single leave coming off it. This will give you bigger, juicy tomatoes. To do this, it’s so important to pluck off the “female” stem that will grow in the middle of the main long stem and the leaf that will branch off it. Plucking this part off will give you bigger tomatoes and a much stronger tomato stem as well.
Right now we currently have silvertbeet, rocket, baby spinach, lettuce, snow peas, brussel sprouts, kale, strawberries, chilli, blueberries, potatoes, capsicum, two types of parsley, cucumber, shallots, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, chives, basil, sage, mint, curry plant (also good for a pest deterant!), edible marigold, pansy, lavender, sunflower, nasturtium and chamomile. Wow! Didn’t realise just how much we had! Like I said, you’ll probably find me down on the main street soon with my own veggie stall!
I’m no veggie expert and I find myself just winging it mostly with the help of my Dad, but I hope our knowledge together on these few things can help you grow a beautiful thriving veggie patch for your whole family to love. There is no better feeling than just being out in your patch, picking it, cooking it and eating it. Next up willl be making a compost!
If you have any tips you’d love to share, don’t forget to leave a comment below!