down to earth: The Simple Home - April

Showing posts with label The Simple Home - April. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Simple Home - April. Show all posts

The housekeeping of gardening

23 April 2018
April - week 4 in The Simple Home

Being able to grow some of your own food is a wonderful skill to have. Many gardeners dig in the soil, some create raised beds and, increasingly, some happily grow what they can in containers. Congratulations on taking this step if you're a new gardener. I hope the fresh vegetables and herbs you harvest will reward you for the work you do in setting up.

This week is the last in our gardening month. The topic is the housekeeping of gardening: watering, fertilising, composting and keeping your plants disease and insect-free.

Setting up your garden in pots

17 April 2018
April, week 3 in The Simple Home

By now you have probably had enough time to think about what you want to plant and where it will grow and hopefully you've gathered a few containers and some growing mix. Depending on what you're hoping to grow, you might also have a trellis or bamboo and string and you might have thought about fertiliser and a few tools.  I hope you find second hand items and can keep your setup costs as low as possible because gardening can become expensive and it doesn't have to be.

Containers and potting mix

Types of containers
Look around your home, garden and garage, as well as your local recycle centre, to see if you have any suitable containers. Most of them need to be big. If you restrict the root growth of what you’re growing, it will also restrict your crops, so large containers are better than small ones. Of course you can grow a few herbs in small containers, or plant then around the edge of larger containers.  Look for old rubber tubs, an old slightly rusty wheelbarrow, boxes made from untreated wood, polystyrene troughs or metal containers. Most of the recycled containers won’t last a long time because they’ll be sitting in the sun all year long. But that doesn’t matter. You can change containers when you change seasons and start planting again. Keep that in mind and as you go through the year keep an open eye for follow-up containers.  And if you have any good ideas for containers that you're using at home, share them with us here.


Setting up your garden - the first plants

9 April 2018
April, week 2 in The Simple Home

For all our new gardeners, there are two things I want you to decide on this week - what you're going to grow and where you'll grow it.  I hope you've found some big containers, if not, you'll need to get on to that this week too.  If you're not sure what to plant, grow what you eat, not what's in fashion or what you want to taste for the first time. Your garden should be full of what you eat and that will probably be the common vegetables like tomatoes, pumpkins, onions, beans, cabbages etc. I'll write about two commonly grown back yard vegetables - potatoes and tomatoes.  Planting larger plants first will give your container garden a feeling of being anchored and then you can fill in with your smaller vegies and herbs. If you don't want to grow potatoes or tomatoes, it could be anything that needs a trellis, such as cucumbers, peas or beans, or a couple of fruit trees in large pots.

Hanno and I were going to plant up our two potato containers yesterday but we were both exhausted after planting and fertilising the rest of the garden so we came inside early and rested. I chose the location for the potatoes last week but yesterday morning, sitting on the verandah listening to the radio, I realised the orange tree would shade them most of the morning, so I moved the empty containers to a sunnier space on the other side of the garden.


April, it's time to plant

2 April 2018
April, week 1 in The Simple Home

Growing your own food
When you’re starting out on your simple life journey, or if you move to a home with a bit of land attached, some people will recommend you start growing your own fruit and vegetables. It’s a good option for experienced gardeners because a large productive garden will add value and strength to your home and increase the opportunities you have to eat well and store away food that can be eaten later in the year. However, if you've never grown anything before and have to start building garden beds and fences, enrich virgin soil or buy soil, seeds and seedlings, as well as the tools to work the land, often it doesn't make financial sense. You’ll probably know before you start such a big project that you’ll spend much more money on setting up than you could save on vegetables. When you spread the setup costs out over a few years, it makes more sense but if you can’t afford the set up costs of garden beds, what are the alternatives?

This is our main garden with a potted bay tree growing nicely on the corner.

Container gardening
Containers! Why containers? If you have never grown food before, if you're time poor, if you have limited water, if you have no land or room other than a back step, a sunny window sill or a small courtyard, for many reasons, containers will be your simple answer.