The home is a place to relax and a space to share good times with those we love – home-cooked dinners with family, barbecues with friends, celebrations, evening drinks – all of which generally unfold in the outdoor areas as the weather starts to warm up again.
What binds these good times in my household is always fresh, home-made food using ingredients from our edible garden.
To have a sunlit backyard adds to the charm of the Australian lifestyle and if designed well, should be functional, practical and enjoyable.
Growing leafy greens for a salad, your favourite herbs for a garnish or a juicy fruit tree isn’t as hard as you might think.
And now, with spring upon us, is the perfect time to start planning and preparing our gardens. The mornings are brighter, the days are getting longer and the air is fresh with new scents.
So, what can you do now to get your garden in shape? Below are a few quick tips to set your patch up for growing success.
Find a sunny spot in your garden (or designate a patch of lawn). You’ll need about six hours of sun each day and I’d recommend one to two square metres as a start.
Always place plants where they can get rain (not under eaves), as this keeps them clean and healthy and will also deter pests. A fortnightly drink of an organic liquid fertiliser and seaweed extract will keep them happy and producing the goods.
Some plants are better grown from seeds or seedlings and some are best to plant as more mature plants. Do some research, planting the appropriate kind will ensure you get strong plants with less time spent waiting to grow.
Always ensure you get your plants in the ground at their favoured time. Generally speaking, September is best for warmer coastal cities and waiting until October is recommended for cooler areas (after frost).
Prepare your soil
Your garden, and subsequent produce, is only as good as your soil. So, it goes without saying, you’ll need to invest some time, effort and money into cultivating rich, nutrient dense soil for healthier plants.
Creating your own compost is an easy addition to building a healthy soil. Unfortunately, the bagged soil products on offer lack the natural microbiology required to grow healthy, nutrient dense plants, so it’s important to add your own rich compost to the soil. It’s always good to add an organic fertiliser – like “blood and bone” or Dynamic Lifter – to the mix as well. Just be sure to water it in well.
If you’ve got a courtyard ready for growing, invest in a selection of pots and planters in a variety of sizes with a similar textural theme.
A courtyard can look instantly abundant with pots spilling over with leafy greens and soft herbs like parsley, dill or coriander. Sunlight is key, so think about using the height of pots to maximise your plants’ rays.
A balcony garden can quickly become an enchanting jungle of plants. As tomatoes grow taller and cucumbers climb higher, you can create a nice little micro climate for other plants to shelter behind – just remember to leave yourself a place to sit.
Choose a few larger pots rather than several small ones as this will decrease your watering requirements and look less cluttered.