Home' Outdoors : WAs Best Outdoors and Gardens 2010-11 Contents garden
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Ben and Mike’s handy hints on
how to grow your own food
Test the soil “You can do a simple pH test
to find out what kind of soil you’re on,”
explains Ben. “Neutral to slightly acidic is
ideal. Then you decide to work with what
you’ve got or bring in some different soil.”
Ensure 40cm of good soil “All nutrients
are accessed from the top 30-50cm,”
explains Ben (centre right). “ Vegetable
roots don’t go any deeper than 30cm,
and even fruit trees and larger trees have
all their feeder roots in the top 50cm of
soil.” On top of that, 5cm of compost
should be cultivated to shovel depth.
Mike (bottom right), likes to use a sandy/
loamy vegetable mix, which he combines
with a compost, such as mushroom
compost. Both are inexpensive and easy
to find at any soil yard.
Choose the right irrigation Ben says drip
irrigation is 60 percent more effective than
traditional systems because it feeds water close
to the roots and eliminates drift and overspray,
reducing water loss from evaporation and
cutting down watering times. Irrigation outlets,
such as Total Eden and The Watershed Water
Systems, can offer advice and reticulation plans
for the home gardener.
Grow what you want to eat and have fun
with it That’s Mike’s advice. “And don’t look at
it as a failure if it doesn’t work,” he says. “ Unlike
some past generations, we aren’t relying on
our own produce for survival. These days, we
have the option of experimenting. It’s no big
deal if it doesn’t work and there’s absolutely no
disadvantage for trying it.”
Divide the area into bays “You don’t want to
be walking among the vegetables and compacting the soil, and
you don’t want to damage a plant by treading on it while you are
harvesting something else,” s ays Mike. “Everything should be at arm’s
length from the path.”
Use raised beds Generally speaking, vegetables should be planted in
a raised bed. A 40cm-high corrugated tank makes a great starting point.
Fruit trees should be planted separately.
Plant with the seasons...
Summer growers (tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, pumpkin, melons,
cucumber, corn and beans) Plant in spring. Mike suggests planting
cucumber on the edge of the bed so they can hang rather than rest in the
soil. “And plant a mix of tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes grow quickly, while
larger tomatoes take longer, so you can spread the harvest. Lettuces are
quick to grow, but you should get them out before it gets too hot.”
Winter growers (apples, persimmons, cherries and grapes) Plant
in autumn. Year-round growers, such as peas, salad greens and carrots
can be planted at any time, though it’s not wise to plant them in the heat
of summer. Spring is an ideal time to plant tropical fruit trees, including
citrus, mango and banana.
Keep har vesting “There’s no point growing your own vegetables unless you
continue to harvest what you grow,” s ays Ben. “And there’s great reward. Not
only in the food you eat, but it gets you outside, too – it’s therapy. And what
you don’t eat at the time, preserve it in sauces and chutneys.”
Add chooks Chickens are the cornerstone of recycling and self-sufficiency
in the backyard. “ But they should be kept separate to your vegetable garden
or they will decimate the vegies,” advises Mike. “It’s a great cycle. You eat the
vegetables, give the leftovers to the chickens, the scraps from the chook pen
go into compost and the compost goes to the vegie garden.” Easy!
14/9/10 4:30:48 PM
14/9/10 4:30:48 PM
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