My garden is in a northern suburb of Melbourne, and is sheltered and frost free. The climate is temperate with average summer temperatures in the mid to high 20’s and average winter temperatures of around 15 degress C. Average night time temperatures in summer are around 14 degrees C and in winter they are around 6 degrees. In summer the temperature does get above 40 degrees a few times each year and in winter it does occasionally get close to zero at night, however I have yet to be aware of any sub zero temperatures in my garden.
I grow my edibles in both raised beds and in pots. The raised beds were made in 2010 from redgum sleepers. They are filled with ‘veggie mix’ from the local Sand & Soil place. I have supplemented this with Dynamic Lifter and home made compost. I mulch the beds with pea straw which I dig into the bed between crops. The pots are filled with potting mix which I buy without added fertiliser. I add my own slow release fertiliser to the potting mix whenever I change the crop in the pot. I reuse the potting mix but practice crop rotation with my pots – ie I don’t use the same pot for the same plant species 2 years in a row. When I sow seeds I sow them in the same potting mix with added fertiliser that I use for my pots but dilute the mix with perlite. I use approximately 3 parts potting mix to one part perlite for most seeds, but use a half/half mix for seeds that are most likely to rot (ie crops like pumpkins sown in late winter may rot before they get warm enough to germinate if sown in a medium that holds too much water.) I use liquid fertiliser or ‘compost tea’ on a monthly basis on most of the crops during their growing periods.
In this section you will find guides with ideas about what to do in the kitchen garden during each month which, although far from comprehensive and something of a work in progress, I hope will be of use.
Hi Liz, love your blog and am a regular reader.since we are newbies to suburban growing and also live in the northern suburbs, find many tips each read! Can I ask, do you fill your patches with the veggie mix as one layer, or do you layer it with other things? We have planter boxes which moved house with us and will be filled soon, but can’t decide if we shoul ‘no dig layer ‘ them as we have done in the past, or just fill them with one good soil or compost… Have you tried both options?
I have tried both options and I think it depends on what you want to plant. Most of my raised beds I filled with veggie mix and planted direct into that and have gradually add more organic matter through thick layers of pea straw mulch as well as adding material from my compost bin and the occasional bag of manure. I find that veggie mix is a reasonable growing medium (assuming its a decent quality mix – I got mine from Coburg Sand and Soil) for the first year but will soon run out of nutrients so you will need to add to it after that. I think it is orobably a reasonably cost effective choice compared with having to buy a large volume of straw and manure. Having said that for what is now my tomato bed I started it as a potato bed by using Peter Cundalls method of laying the tubers on the ground and then topping with straw and a thick layer of manure – you’ll find a post about it on the blog if you aren’t familiar with the technique. Anyway I found this an excellent way to build up a bed from scratch. After I harvested the potatoes I put in some lettuces and silverbeet that did brilliantly without adding anything additional. I have since added compost and manure and the soil level is gradually rising. If you want to grow potatoes in any of your planters then perhaps devote one to this method? As for other no dig methods I haven’t really used them as much so would find it hard to compare.
Hi Liz, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I am delighted to hear you are in coburg as that is where we have just moved to, so will def check out the sand and soil place. I like the idea of the potato bed method too as I am pushing my partner to allow me to dig up a diosma and replace it with a third bed (im interested in planting directly into the ground v raised beds too) , but the soil underneath will be in need of some love, so a rich potato bed might be the solution!
On a side note, are you aware of any gardening groups in coburg? One where local get together and talk about growing, planting etc? ere doesn’t seem to be a SGA pod, but I would love a yak to other locals about gardening…
I am still reaping the benefits of the rich potato bed – it is definitely the best quality growing medium I have. I don’t belong to any local gardening groups, I occasionally think perhaps I should but then never get round to it. There is a produce swap held at the Kildonan nursery at PepperTree Place – here is an old brochure for it – the times and location are up to date though. I haven’t been for ages but it would definitely be a good place to start and they may well know of other groups.