This time of year can be a little disheartening in a Melbourne garden. Gone are the lush shades of green and plump bounty of summer. Everything has started to fade and shrivel up, sad is the best way to describe it and it makes you sad to look at it.
My usual consultation prize is a few lovely pumpkins, which I admire on the shelf. Unfortunately, this year the pumpkins were a failure – that’s what you get for planting a variety named after a gallerist instead of a gardener!
In this decaying environment it’s time to start again. For those of you who haven’t gardened before, it is a great time to start. The rain in winter means you don’t have to water very much and the soil is soft and easy to work. Before heading outdoors I ask myself series of questions to kick off the planning process.
Firstly, do I want a vegie garden this season?
It is important to reflect on the amount of time you want to put into the garden over the next few months. We have a neighbour who only gardens half of the year and goes fishing for the rest. Remember that the days get shorter and you will probably need to be out there in the dark.
What the hell am I going to plant?
Make a list of the vegetables you want to grow and eat. We tend to grow plant that are harder to come by at the store and ones that cost the most. Get to know what is grown locally in area and what is easy to come by.
There is no point dedicating half your garden to potatoes when you have a local organic farmer who sells them for a few dollars a kilo. Garlic on the other hand is expensive and often shipped from China or Mexico, making it a perfect candidate for growing at home.
Now that you have your list go through a put a ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’ priority next to each. Unless you have ample space and time it is unlikely you will get to have them all.
Where do I put you?
Once you have decided what you want to grow the tricky part is organizing where to plant them. The best way to do this is to draw up a map of you garden. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a simple diagram that outlines the space you have.
Some factors to consider when map out your vegetables are:
- Rotating the beds, changing what you plant each season will help to keep you soil healthy.
- The amount of light the bed will be getting. Light changes dramatically from summer to winter and it is essential to factor it in.
- Height of what you are planting. A veggie like broadbeans shouldn’t be planted in front of your lettuce patch, it will block out the sun.
- Companion planting, some plants do better in the company of others.
Once you have answered these questions it is time to begin. Start by preparing you soil with compost and manure.
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