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Imagine the delicious meals you’ll enjoy with the fresh herbs and vegetables you pick, ripe and fresh — straight from your own garden. Flavours like your grandparents enjoyed on the farm. Flavours you’ve almost forgotten... but can now enjoy again. Imagine the compliments you’ll receive from family and friends as they visit for meals. And the things they say when they see the lush green bounty growing right outside your kitchen. They’ll hardly believe you’ve grown all this yourself!
Imagine the sense of satisfaction — the pride you’ll have knowing you’re giving your family the healthiest, most nutritious food available. Superfoods that give you extra energy, the ability to focus longer and the goodness you need to lose weight, build muscle and feel years younger. Herbs and vegetables that are brimming with natural colour and flavour — not spoiled by nasty chemicals. And alive with freshness — not dying in cold storage or from thousands of kilometers in transport trucks. Imagine the convenience of picking fresh produce a few steps from your kitchen. No more hurried, last-minute trips to the busy grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner. Your own garden will provide all the fresh goodies you need — all year round.
Raised garden beds are one of the easiest ways of growing the vegetables that you need for your families meals.
This manual will take you through the steps I follow to set up an easy raised garden to produce the fresh food I need. If you haven’t done this sort of thing before, don’t worry, we’ll just start off with a small growing area and you can add to it as your food growing confidence grows. Firstly, you need to decide which are the main herbs and vegetables that you would like to grow. No doubt there will be favorites that you use in nearly every meal but there maybe others that are hard to find in the shops or are of poor quality. Vegetables will vary as to what is suitable to grow at certain times of the year so I am writing this for a climate that will get down to about 5 degrees for a couple of months in Winter and up to the mid 30’s for a couple of months in Summer. This leaves quite a few months which is perfect growing weather of around 15 to 25 degrees. Many vegetable seeds like the soil temperature to be quite warm to germinate quickly. Step 1 OK, so let’s make a list. How do some of these sound? Lettuce – A favorite with varieties suitable for growing all year round. Tomato – Usually a must, taste so much better than the shop ones. Beans – Dwarf beans don’t need staking and produce heaps. Carrots – Go for the smaller types. Should be able to grow all year. Celery – Can’t beat the crunch of home grown celery. Start cutting early. Cucumbers – Fast growers. Grow up a stake to save space. Shallots – Easy to harvest as required. Takes up next to no space. Tomatoes – Definitely. Start off with the smaller cherry varieties. Basil – Good companion for both growing and eating with tomatoes. Zucchini – Fast producers. Do need a bit more space. Silverbeet – Easy and fast. Harvest the leaves as needed. Beetroot – Grow for the baby leaves and get the bulb as a bonus.
They’re 12 of easiest to grow vegetables that will give good results over a broad temperature range. Surely, if you were to grow some of these vegetables, you would be able to save a lot of money on your grocery bill as well as benefiting from the goodness of being able to be picked straight from the plant as you need them. If these are the types of vegetables you are wanting to grow, they will all do nicely in one of these Raised Vegetable Gardens.
Designed and manufactured in Australia, these Raised Garden Beds are delivered as a flat pack and easily clip together forming a robust, square meter of growing area. Actual size is 1330mm long, 750mm wide and 300mm high. This depth of soil make them suitable for a wide array of herbs and vegetables.
Step 2 Click here to go to www.ProductiveGardens.com.au/ and order your Raised Garden Bed. As I said earlier, just start off with one or two and you can add to your “farm” as your experience grows. I want you to be able to devote a very small amount of time to getting this garden set up properly so you’ll reap the rewards in terms of enjoyment and
fresh food. Your new garden should only take a few days to arrive but in the meantime we have some work to do. The sooner you get some seeds planted, the sooner you’ll be harvesting so let’s get to it. There are a few other low cost items you may need to gather. If you need some seeds, you may like to browse through our collection of seeds and have them sent with your order. Remember, some packets (like lettuce) can contain over 1200 seeds which will provide all you need of this crop for a very long time.
We also need something to start the seeds off in. I like to use little jiffies which are peat pellets that swell up when soaked in water. Then it’s just a matter of poking a few seeds into the top of each and putting them aside for a few days till they germinate. Different seeds take different lengths of time to germinate but many between 3 and 14 days, just keep them moist and in a warm spot.
You could also use some pots or punnets that you already have, just get a small quantity of a special seed raising mix, ordinary potting mix is too coarse and won’t transfer moisture to the seeds. Seed raising mix ensures a perfect environment for the seeds to burst into life.
Step 3 Select a good spot to position your raised garden. There are a few things you need to take into consideration. Will it get at least 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight each day? And remember the sun passes lower in the sky in Winter. Try and position your edible garden close to the kitchen so you don’t need to venture out into the darkness to collect your produce for the evening meal. Is it close to a water supply? The grounds surface doesn’t matter much as long as it’s reasonably flat. Your raised vegetable garden could be placed on the lawn or other grassed area, just put some thick layers of newspaper down first to prevent the grass growing up it to it. It can be set up on a gravel path or bare dirt area. It can even be placed on a paved or concrete area.
Step 4 By now, your Raised Vegetable Garden should have arrived.
You have selected your site and you may even have a few new seeds emerging in your pots! The Raised Vegetable Garden comes with full instructions and screws for assembly, all you need to find is a Phillips screw driver. Before starting, you may like to run the 2 minute video found on the front page of www.RaisedVegetableGardens.com.au The secret is to assemble on a hard flat surface and then more your garden into position once it’s completed. Take it easy and you won’t have any trouble.
Step5 Filling with soil. The beauty of these gardens is that you don’t need to get in a whole truck load of soil to fill them but in saying that, if you’re setting up 3 or 4 gardens that may be the most economical way. If you had some existing soil from around the yard or some compost, you could fill the garden about a third full with that. I like to top them up with a couple of bags of a good organic soil and either a
bag of cow manure or compost. Then you have a soil you can plant all your veggies straight into. I won’t go into all the details here but there are whole books written on the method of creating no-dig gardens with layers of paper, luccerne, compost, manure and small amounts of soil. This takes a while to break down but you do end up with a very fertile soil. Fill to within 3 or 4 cm of the top to allow room for some mulch.
Step 6 Planting your vegetables. I like to divide the garden loosely into 3 rows. Along the front row, or direction the sun comes from, I like to plant lower varieties such as lettuce, carrots and beetroot. Also things that can hang over the front such as strawberries, parsley or even a zucchini in one corner. By now you should have some of your own seedlings to plant out. You may like to also grab a few more advanced seedlings from a nursery so you can get some things up to a harvestable stage quicker. I like to plant them out in the cool of the afternoon so the roots have a chance to take up some moisture before the heat of the next day.
In the middle row can go the intermediate sized plants like capsicum, shallots and silver beet. At the rear of the garden you can grow the taller crops and climbers like tomatoes and cucumbers up stakes to save space. I like to plant densely and always plant something else as soon as a space becomes available. This way you’ll always have plenty coming along for a continuous supply. Once you have planted the seedlings, I give the raised garden bed a good covering of mulch to help lock in the moisture. You can either use an organic material such as chopped luccerne or sugar cane or an in-organic material like diatomite or Deco-Carbon (charcoal). One of these 10 kg bags of Deco-Carbon will mulch the raised bed nicely.
Step 7 Watering. For the first week, water the seedlings daily. After that, a good soaking every few days is preferable to encourage the plants roots to travel deeper in search of moisture. Plants with surface roots are very dependant on us for regular watering. Once again, mulching will help extend watering intervals.
The beauty of raised beds is that they automatically alleviate any poor drainage or high clay problems that you may encounter growing in the ground. Most herbs and vegetables enjoy a moist but well drained soil. The best way to check for moisture is to pull back a little mulch and poke your finger into the soil, only water if it feels dry. You’ll also begin to notice if the plants are slightly wilting, this is their way of coping with dry conditions. Just make sure you can give them a drink before they get to the permanent wilt stage – dead! If finding the time to water is an issue for you, you may like to investigate setting up an automatic watering system. I like to set up a Wet Pot watering system, and there’s more info on this here
These porous clay bulbs distribute water straight into the root zone where it’s needed. It’s just a matter of setting up a reservoir or header tank so the water will flow to the plants by gravity, no pumps or electricity needed. The plants will realize where the moisture is coming from and head their roots in that direction. It’s a great peace of mind knowing the system is working along in the back ground supplying life sustaining moisture to your plants. Whether you need to be away for a few days or a few weeks, it’s easy to set up the system to take care of everything. Saves time, saves water. Step 8 Fertilising. All plants growing in pots and containers rely on us for nutrients. The Raised Garden Beds may be slightly more self
sufficient if their set up over grass or soil. Eventually the roots will get down into the soil below and worms and microbes will be able to travel upwards to help improve the soil. Compost is one of the best plant foods you can give and best of all, can be produced at little or no cost. Why not make use of your waste organic matter from the kitchen and around the yard to add to a compost bin. Compost a diverse range of waste materials and you’ll be able to turn it into a rich plant food. Feed the soil and your plants will be looked after.
If making compost isn’t possible, there are quite a few good fertilizers on the market. I like to use a good organic fertilizer about once a month. A little regularly is better than a whole heap once a year. Specialty Herb & Vegetable fertilizers are formulated for these crops and will give good results. Just remember that Herb & Vegetable fertilizers will be higher in Nitrogen for lots of green leaves so if you’re growing tomatoes or capsicums, add a couple of handfuls of Sulphate of Potash into the soil to help these plants produce lots of flowers and then fruit. By feeding and nurturing the soil, your plants will be healthy and more equipped to resist pest and disease problems.
Step 9 Pest Management. This is ongoing, so stop and smell the roses from time to time so to speak. The key here really is observation. Get down close and examine the leaves for damage. It won’t take long till you become more familiar with the insects we share this earth with and you’ll be able to spot the signs from further away. Most pest damage occurs in two ways. Firstly there are leaf chewers such as grass hoppers and caterpillars. You’ll notice the holes in leaves quite easily. Grass hoppers will chew parts of the plant and move on where as caterpillars will start life so small you can hardly see them but will grow rapidly chewing more and more each day. They tend to be the same colour as the leaves which make them hard to detect. You should be able to find them from their tiny black droppings they leave behind. If you only find a few caterpillars , you can remove them by hand. There are safe sprays available as well. The other leaf and stem damage occurs from the sap sucking insects like scale, mealy bug and aphids. Their piercing mouth parts drill into the foliage and suck out nutrients as they move through the plant. The easiest way to control these is with a safe oil based or soap spray. Introducing a bird feeder or bird bath to your garden should encourage birds to stop by and visit or become regulars. While they’re there, they will possibly consume some of their favorite foods – juicy insects! Help the birds to help you with your pest control.
Step 10 Harvest! This is where the fun really starts.
You definitely don’t have to wait for many of the vegetables to grow to the size that you see them in the supermarkets. You see huge bundles of celery there, big heads of broccoli and big long carrots. Start harvesting outer leaves when lettuce are 10 cm high, celery sticks are the thickness of a pencil and carrots about as thick as your little finger. This is when they are tender, crisp and full of flavour.
And you can’t beat that!
I hope this report has inspired you to get out and start growing some of your own herbs and vegetables. For further assistance or to let me know of your latest successes, visit our blog at www.RaisedVegetableGardens.com.au