For the past couple of weeks I’ve been (slowly) trying to expand the veggie growing space in the yard. There’s a spot down the West side of the house that gets plenty of sun and has an old garden bed that went to weed. That’s been dug over and had some manure, potash and lime thrown on it, but it’s such heavy clay that it will need quite a bit more organic matter before anything will grow there very well.
Without more compost and manure, this won’t drain well. It will also clump around plant roots and slow growth.
Another spot out back should get plenty of morning light. With a good 8 hours of daylight, just about anything will grow there. The soil is fairly sandy, which will suit root veggies like carrots, onions and beets. It is exposed from the West so anything climbing is going to need really good stakes.
There’s a fair bit of sand in this new bed, which will suit carrots, onions and beets.
How to pick a spot for a garden bed? One that gets enough sun and has enough drainage. Most veggies and herbs want at least 8 hours of daylight. They need quite a bit of water but you don’t want them sitting with their feet wet as it contributes to disease.
If you live in an apartment or don’t want to dig up the yard, pots and troughs filled with compost or potting mix can also grow you quite a good crop of salad greens. Put your trough or pot in a sunny spot, fill it with soil, plant seedlings and make sure they don’t dry out too much. When they’re flowering/fruiting give them a bit of liquid fertiliser or blood and bone. It is more expensive to use pots, though. There are resin troughs with all sorts of fancy decorations on them, which would be fantastic on a balcony, but setting them up will run into hundreds or even thousands.
Should you wish to grow veggies to save money, it’s a bit of a catch to start off with as the soil is the source of everything and most yard dirt hasn’t been well treated. To get around this, source manure and compost from farms or council recycling depots. Once you find a spot, dig in a few bags of manure and a bit of lime and you should be pretty right.
Keep the little punnets from any seedlings you may buy. These can be re-used to sprout seeds. Refill them with compost or good garden soil to save spending on potting mix. Growing from seeds is inexpensive and really rewarding. Moreso when you’re planting seed you’ve saved from previous crops.
Personally I’m really glad Diggers went to the trouble of developing the cold/heat zones as well as water and number of growing days. It provides more accurate information to better guide plant selection.
This area is in cold zone 9b and heat zone 6… Hot summers and frosty winters. The mediterranean stuff like tomatoes, chilli and eggplant is a summer only affair unless I set up a you-beaut hot house of some description.
Once you’ve located your heat and cold zones, choose plants that are in season. Again, tomatoes aren’t a winter crop and spinach doesn’t like summer heat. Peter Cundall has a great sowing guide for cool climates. This doesn’t suit the climate here, but is fantastic for ideas! I really *must* try asparagus!
See also the ABC Gardening site’s veggie guide.