Small space gardening: Plant your leafy greens
Long days at home due to the self-isolation is a great excuse to get into the garden. Gardening is a great way to relax and gain a sense of peace and wellbeing, but can also provide you with fresh, nutritious food at the same time.
It’s time for leafy greens!
Early Autumn is a great time to plant leafy greens such as spinach; brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli; and green beans and peas. Planting during April will ensure you will be ready to harvest throughout Winter and Spring, providing you with fresh, low-cost produce for your kitchen.
Suggestions for what to plant now:
- Lettuce (leafy rather than hearted lettuce at this time of year would give a quick turnover)
- Asian Greens
- The onion family – garlic, shallots, spring onions and chives
Some hot tips for super keen gardeners
Edible plants generally need more food, water, and sunshine than non-edibles. Here are the basics for most plant crops.
- Edible plants prefer full sun
- Crops need soil with a high content of organic matter – not too sandy, not too heavy
- Food plants need regular watering. A watering gauge can be helpful, but poking your index finger into the soil up to the first knuckle will let you know if it’s time to water again. If it’s dry, time to water!
- Some crops are hungrier than others, but all will benefit from a seasonal dose of a complete organic fertiliser and monthly liquid feeds.
Seedlings vs seeds
Both seeds and seedlings have their own benefits and drawbacks. Rather than a question of which is better, it’s more a question of which suits your individual needs. This will very depending on factors such as:
- Your budget
- The number of plants you would like to have in your garden bed
- Is there enough time left in the growing season for a plant to mature from seed?
Try a no dig garden bed
A no dig garden bed is a bed built on top of an existing bed, lawn area or even hard surfaces like concrete.
Just like compost, you need a good amount of dry materials – like straw, lucerne and dried leaves – along with thinner layers of high nutrient green, leafy weeds and manure to build up the soil.
If you are super keen – make a raised garden bed.
A raised garden bed is great for growing small veggies and flowers. Raised beds a usually low in weeds and provide a barrier to some pests such as snails and slugs. These enclosed gardens also keep your valuable soil from eroding away during heavy rains.
A raised bed are perfect for reducing back strain from bending over to tend the garden, making them perfect for older gardeners and people with back problems.
Your productive home garden may be lacking in space, but there is always room for more – if you think vertically!
Fences are a fantastic, and often under-utilised area of the garden that are perfect for growing produce. A large back fence can be home to a passionfruit vine and other vine edibles, but you can also think outside the box – why not try a grafted fruit tree, like almond. A grafted almond will grow to an eventual mature height of 2m with a similar width, but you can espalier the plant, meaning you can train it to grow ‘flat’ and horizontally along the fence.
No garden? No worries!
Alfalfa sprouts could be grown in the kitchen, as well as herbs. Use the sunnier sides of your home to get production happening, as long as you are supplementing with water and a bit of food. Large pots are a great way to grow inside as well – perhaps replace some of the sad looking indoor plants you have with herb gardens.
Looking for more information on starting your own veggie patch? Download our Be Active fact sheet here.
Online informational videos
- Autumn herb, fruit and vegies planning guide by temperate zone
- Gardening Australia’s Vegie Guide
- How to make free organic liquid fertilisers
- A No-Dig Garden Bed
- Making Raised Bed
- Elevating edibles – Gardening Australia
- Vertical Vegetables
Be Active is an event-based lifestyle program run by Ingenia Lifestyle designed to enhance the lives of residents by providing opportunities to socialise, exercise and learn new skills, boosting happiness, health, and wellbeing in our communities.