Getting started with growing food at home
1. Preparing your soil
Healthy, nutritious soils produce healthy, nutrient dense food. Take time to prepare your soil correctly and you will nourish the plants and get better results.
- Mix some well-rotted animal manure into your soil (think chook poop)
- Add some organic compost (home composted food scraps are ideal but not essential)
- Lightly sprinkle your soils with Blood and Bone
- Water in well before sowing your seeds or planting your seedlings.
- Most vegetables and herbs can be grown from either seeds or seedlings
- Planting seedlings will reduce the time until you can harvest your food
- The seed packet or punt will have planting directions to follow
- Allow the recommended spacing between each plant to give your food space to grow.
- Spread mulch around the plant to keep the soil cool in the warmer months, warm in the cooler months, reduce evaporation and protect your plants.
3. Watering and feeding
- Rule number one – always water in your seeds or seedlings when first planted
- You can also add a little diluted liquid feed at planting to give your plants a boost to get them started
- Repeat the liquid feed every two to three weeks as the plants grow.
Once your plants are established:
- Water the roots rather than the leaves. Directing water into the soil at the base of the plant is the most efficient way to water.
- In the warmer months, water early in the morning to avoid evaporation
- If plants are drooping or looking tired, a good watering should rejuvenate them
- On the other hand – don’t overwater! Use our growing chart as a guide to the amount of water each plant needs
- Consider installing an automated watering system. It’s well worth the small investment in the initial set up and you’ll be well rewarded in return for your efforts.
4. Harvesting your food
Generally you can harvest your food when it appears ready to eat. If you have any doubt, have a taste straight from the garden – you will quickly get a sense from its size, colour and taste.
- Don’t leave it too long before harvesting – or birds and wildlife get to your food before you do
- Regular harvesting of your food increases its vigour and productivity, and ultimately encourages more food growth throughout the season
- Harvest only what you need, as you need it so that means you will have daily access to fresh produce literally at your doorstep.
Plant care in extreme weather
Extreme weather presents challenges for plants. In very hot conditions, most plants require some shading such as a shade cloth over them. If that’s not possible, ensure they are watered early in the morning and at the end of the day to keep them hydrated during a heat wave.
Plants also struggle with extreme cold and frosts. To protect them, simply cut out plastic bottles around your young plants, or use plastic bags with the bottom cut out with three or four bamboo sticks around them to keep the warmth in and cold out.