Turn all that time you’ll have your hands on the weekends into something productive by getting into the garden.
As many newly grounded Aussies are discovering, being on lockdown doesn’t have to be a drag; instead, it can be a great time to get all those house and home projects underway.
Creating a garden can be more than just a pleasant way to pass some time and relax, you can grow plenty of edible plants and keep yourself in vegetables and herbs over the months and years to come, says Angie Thomas, Horticulture Consultant with Yates.
Even better, she says Autumn is the perfect time to plant, as the conditions suit a wide range of plants and there is nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction you’ll get from seeing something you’ve planted thrive and bloom into life. Here’s how to get started:
1. Decide what you want from your garden
Some of us look to our garden to create a place of Zen, some want pops of colour while others like a ‘functional’ garden that keeps them in herbs, fruits and veggies all year around – or you may want a mix of the above.
“Think about what you want from your garden – a steady stream of fresh homegrown produce, a tropical, holiday feel, easy maintenance, privacy or perhaps flowers throughout the year. That will help guide you on your plant choosing journey, as there’s a lot of plants to choose from,” Thomas says.
2. Research your preferred plants and location
Now that you know what you want from your garden, Thomas says you’ll need to choose plants that are suited to your climate and the current growing season.
“Tropical plants won’t be happy in a frost-prone spot,” she says.
Decide if you prefer to start from seeds or established plants – this may be dictated by availability at the moment!
If you’re overwhelmed with the choices, give your local nursery or garden centre a call, or check out this handy online search tool. You can plug in your location and the conditions, and it will give you a list of what works with detailed information and photos.
3. Plot out your garden
One of the common reasons plants fail to thrive is they’re planted in the wrong spot; this is where plotting out your yard (don’t panic, it doesn’t need to be to scale) can help you decide what to plant where.
“Look at the amount of space and sunlight you have. Different plants are suited to different levels of light and some plants are small and compact whereas others can be impressively large. Observe your backyard, courtyard or veranda to see how much light it gets across the day and then choose plants to suit. Plants will be much happier when they’re growing in their preferred spot,” Thomas says.
Yates Virtual Garden Visualiser app can also help you plot out and plan your garden.
4. Stock up
Given you’ll be largely relying on online ordering, delivery or click and collect at the moment, it pays to be organised and make a complete list of what you’ll need (there’s also a good chance you’ll need to shop around as there are massive shortages.) If you’re struggling to find what you need, try calling your local hardware stores, they will also often be able to supply other key ‘ingredients’ for your gardening project, and sometimes still have seed stocks.
Not sure what you need?
- Your plants or seeds
- Seedling trays if you’re growing from seeds
- Weed control
- Soil improver – organic is great for new plants and seedlings as they won’t burn the roots
- Manure or compost – bonus tip, chuck a compost bin into your shopping list and start producing your own!
- Tools – a trowel, shovel or spade, hoe and weeding tool.
If you don’t have a handy spot for your new plants, you may like to add a premade raised garden bed to your shopping list – these range in price starting from around $50. Many veggies and herbs will grow well in pots, or if you’re more interested in the produce than the aesthetic and you are short on space, many will grow just fine in plain plastic pots on a well-placed table or the lawn! Herb plants can do double duty if you have a sunny spot inside, giving some lush greenery to your indoors, and being handy when you need to snip some off for your cooking!
5. Salvage what you can from scraps and offcuts
While seeds and plants may be in short supply, there’s another – and cheaper – way to grow your own. If you’ve managed to get your hands on the herbs that come in sleeves with some roots attached, these can easily be planted up – ensure the roots are well covered and you follow their care instructions to the letter for the first few days. Many root veggies; think potatoes, onions, carrots are easily grown from a small snippet, a glass jar of water and some toothpicks.
If you’ve got pals with a plant you’ve always admired, Bunnings has some handy tutorials on how to propagate from them – the method will vary depending on the plant, and you’ll probably need to ask them very nicely to take the cutting and leave it out for you so you can follow safe distancing, but it’s a very economical way to get your garden blooming.
6. Get your soil sorted
Soil is the foundation of all planting, and Thomas says this starts with weed control – it’s a lot harder to remove weeds after your plants are in place. “Non-residual weedkillers like Yates Zero can be used to treat any existing weeds; simply apply, wait until they have died then you can get planting,” she says.
Now it’s time to get digging, as this loosens up the soil. Dig deep; 15 to 20 centimetres is the minimum depth you’d want to dig to for planting, Angie says. Now add plenty of good quality organic material – such as compost and some pre-planting fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter soil improver and plant fertiliser.
“Composted organic soil improvers are ideal for new plants as they won’t burn new roots,” says Thomas.
7. Get planting
Follow the instructions that come with your plant, retaining any labelling for ongoing care information. If you don’t have any instructions, you can search up your plants needs online, but as a guide, you need to dig a spot deep enough to cover over the top of the roots (essentially the ‘green’ of your plant should be the only part out of the ground after you’ve watered it in. Seedlings have a whole separate set of needs – you can find a step by step guide online.
Once they’re in the ground, make sure they are watered well, and that you note how often they’ll require watering over the next few days as they settle in.
Now that you’ve got your garden into the ground, enjoy the daily opportunity to chill out and nurture your creation – just make sure you don’t make the rookie mistake of overwatering your new babies!
Words by Melanie Hearse
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