When I was younger, I was part of the Wild Flower Society. Watch out: #nerdalert. They sent me seeds and emails every month, and my (wonderful) parents gave me a whole section of the garden to go crazy with. Dad and I were forever found in the family veggie garden, and I often created moss gardens with my nana. I would encourage the vines outside my bedroom to come in through my window, and I still feel like I can’t breathe properly if I cannot see grass.
I have green fingers; I always have. Heck, I have a leaf tattoo on my wrist: how cliche can I get?
After living in my own home for over two years, it’s as big a surprise to me as it is to you, that I’m only just building my own little veggie garden now.
Good things take time, I guess.
Four months ago, we finally began the build of our vegetable garden. It’s currently built, filled with soil, and waiting to be planted. Any day now!
So, it turns out, building a vegetable garden doesn’t happen overnight. There were many learning curves before even picking up the spade. What were they? I hear you ask.
Take it from me…
1. DIY is best for the planet and longevity
As an avid zero-waster, I had dreams of creating planter boxes from wood scraps found at building sites, or tyres found in rubbish dumps. I wanted to build an extreme zero-waste garden, that was not only maintained in an eco-friendly way, but built without any detriment to the planet.
After realising I didn’t have the time to dumpster dive, and seeing that pre made planter boxes didn’t fit our allocated space exactly (or were made of plastic), we settled in the middle.
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Compromise. Is. Your. Friend.
We bought sustainably sourced timber, and my darling husband and father-in-law (I was overseas at the time) built three large planter boxes from scratch.
Making it yourself, means you can build something that lasts, and fits your exact specifications. If we settled with pre made boxes, we would have compromised on space, and probably upgraded in the future, using even more unnecessary resources.
Think outside the box (excuse the pun), but don’t get upset if your perfectly zero-waste plans don’t pan out.
2. Use seeds and cuttings from other plants
The reason our vegetable garden has been built, filled with soil, but stayed empty for so long, is because I’m experimenting. I’m trying my best to avoiding buying packets of seeds, and instead growing vegetables FROM vegetables.
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I currently have the stem of a celery and two stems of bok choy in a dish filled with water on my kitchen bench. Cutting off the stems and sitting them in water for several weeks, will (fingers crossed) cause them to sprout and regrow.
I have plans to dry out the seeds from our chillies and capsicums, old spring onions are sitting in a vase of water too, and I’ll be attempting to resprout a lettuce next time we buy one. Regrowing vegetables not only saves you money, but also uses vegetable waste that would usually go to the compost. It’s not rocket science, but it’s zero-waste at it’s finest.
3. Buy the best soil
About three years ago, my husband, Tim, attempted to grow a pumpkin in the section where our raised garden beds currently are. He failed… miserably. The soil there was more clay like, and it didn’t have enough nutrients for anything to grow and flourish.
That’s why we have three beautiful raised garden beds filled, with nutrient rich soil, and mixed in with lush soil from our home compost.
We spent approximately $300 on soil. It sounds bonkers, but getting the right soil really matters. This soil will be there for years, and laying the right foundations for our food is important. If you don’t invest in the right soil nothing will grow, and those beautiful planter boxes you built, will be a waste of your time.
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4. Plan first, then do
When we first discussed a vegetable garden – I was in. I wanted to throw down seeds, like, yesterday. I’m very thankful to be married to a patient man who has to think things through 100 times before acting on them.
If we hadn’t planned our garden, and researched the best set up for us, we would have wasted time and money on something mediocre. Like I said, good things take time. So please, take all the time in the world to plan your garden before you begin creating. You’ll reap more rewards down the track.
5. Grow vegetables that you will actually eat
During our garden research travels throughout the web, I found a list of things in season in my area, Auckland, New Zealand. I was quick to make a list of vegetables to grow this season, but then quick to realise I had written a list filled with things no one in our family would like to eat.
Don’t waste your time growing vegetables you don’t like. Stick to plants that are in season, and usually on your shopping list. This may sound super simple, but it’s easy to get carried away wanting to grow them ALL.
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