Eat your garden

I love seeing edible gardens, there is something magical about the winding garden paths, the up-cycled and recycled garden beds and surprise of what is around the corner, the sound of children playing and eating, mamas with dirt under their nails and sun-kissed shoulders picking produce for lunch. It all sounds rather idyllic doesn't it!?

Wherever we have lived we have had a little vegetable patch or herb garden, flowers and fruits and a part from in the fierce heat of summer, we have had much success with our little patch of paradise in tropical Queensland.

Its a dream of mine that one day we will live in a food forest.

Even if its a suburban patch, its remarkable what you can do with the right planning and passion and the below short film has inspired and reminded me of this dream.

We are coming out of the heat of summer now and I have pulled out my books and started to plan our next crops. The benefits of living with year round sunshine is that you don't have to adhere to the usual rules of planting at certain times of year.

So use this as a guide or inspiration and follow our micro gardening adventure.

Step 1. Prepare the soil. We have a worm farm which makes the most wonderful nutrient dense castings and worm wee, which is used as a fertilizer. Worm farms are great for eating up all your left over food, its a give-take relationship! Alternatively you can start a compost bin - home made or bought to provide you with free nutrient rich soil to nourish and fertilise your garden.

Step 2. Plant seeds and nurture seedlings. We will be planting corn, tomatoes, spinach, mint (in a pot), basil, marigold, coriander, broccoli, capsicum, chilli, strawberries (also potted) and blueberries. And all this fits in a 1 x 2m raised garden,  which in our 5m x 5m yard is micro gardening at its best! We also have potted kaffir lime and pots waiting for a dwarf lemon and lime tree. So having limited space is really no reason not to trial your urban farming skills!

Step 3. Once the seedlings have established plant them out, this is the most vulnerable time for your babies, you will need to protect them from predators especially snails and slugs. We have found that mature nutrient dense soil has a lot to play in the robust nature of the plants, and natural repellents (coffee grounds, egg shells and vinegar), nets and companion planting has helped. Corn is best planted in a cluster rather than a line as the cross fertilisation occurs better (completed by the wind), you can also manually fertilise the plants with a paint brush.

Step 4. Regular watering and pruning. As your babies grow you will need to thin out the tomatoes to allow adequate air flow around the plant and to encourage the right shape of growth. The corn will look after itself, the herbs will bush out so pruning them into the shape you need for the size available will help. The spinach, broccoli, capsicum and chilli will just need space and protection.

Step 5. Harvest - keep an eye on the plants, mid day watering of tomatoes to 'beat' the yellow flowers will encourage the ripening of fruit that is already on the plant, the corn will show it is ready by wilting at the silk ends that stick out of the top of the plant. With chillies, broccoli, capsicum and tomatoes it is obvious when they are ready. The spinach and herbs can be picked once the leaves have reached the desired size and will continue to sprout new leaves.

Kids love growing food too, its so important that our little ones learn where food comes from! I'd love to hear and see your urban farming adventures!

Love, J x

Jen ParkerComment