I've been so busy loving reading everyone else's top five tips that I almost forgot to chuck a few of my own up. Most of these I've learnt the hard way, but here goes! haha
Try New Things, But Stick With Old Favourites Too
Every season I try to grow something new. Some of the new fruit/vegetables/ varieties I’m growing for the first time this season include – Yates Golden Nugget Pumpkin, Kings Yard Long Runner Beans, Oxheart Tomatoes, Russian Red Tomatoes, Cherokee Tomatoes, Rupunzel Tomatoes, Cocozelle Zucchini, Cape Gooseberry, Boysenberry, and miniature Raspberry plants. I always stick to some of my old favourites that I know produce well in our little microclimate e.g. Bright Lights Silverbeet, salad mixes, Honey and Pearl Sweetcorn, Dwarf Colour Combo Beans, Zephyr Zucchini etc. Basically my staples that I know will do well and I’ll get bang for my buck.
Make Gardening Fun For Kids
Lots of you will know that Luke has picked a pizza and salad garden this year. In a nutshell you plant anything that’s going to be delicious on a pizza or in the salad to go with it. In his garden, he’s got a capsicum, cherry tomato, a mix of lettuces, silverbeet, spinach, radishes and spring onions. His selection of pizza herbs are in planter boxes in the BBQ area. I also always purchase seeds/seedlings that I think he’ll have a bit of fun with e.g. strawberry popcorn, giant pumpkin, something to eat in the garden e.g. sugarsnap peas and runner beans, strawberries, cape gooseberry etc. Something that will grow almost overnight is always a winner too e.g. red and purple radishes for us this year. I also try to let him take ownership of his own garden space. He’s currently making garden labels on river stones and something to scare the birds away. We also have a sneaky snail trick we’re about to try. Bottom line - grow what your kids will actually eat. Luke is loving making wraps and things to go in his lunchboxes currently. Salad for the win!
Keep On Top of Pests
Something I’ve learnt the hard way is to keep on top of pests at all times. In the past I’ve slipped here a bit and have paid for it. We have a snail city at our new place so I’ve been going through a lot of Quash, but it’s worth it. I was talking to another mum and her child seems to have made a little bit of a discovery with snails. Her daughter has her own garden. It’s a fairy themed vegetable patch. She has little solar powered fairy lights all through the garden that come on at night. Every single other garden they have has been destroyed by snails, yet her daughter’s remains completely untouched. Coincidence or do these cheeky pests not like the lights through the garden? Who knows, but I’m prepared to give it a go to test the theory.
Plant That Bee and Butterfly Garden
One of the best things I’ve done over the past couple of seasons is take the time to plant more flowers in my gardens. Previously I would have chucked in a marigold border and been done with it. Not only does this add the cottage feel and a pop of colour to the gardens, but it also attracts more beneficial insects to our gardens. They’re not only great pollinators, but also help to deal to some of the pests in our garden by making a meal out of them! Win, win in my opinion. It will also be that time of year to start putting out shallow dishes of water for our little mates too.
Your Garden Will Only Be As Good As Your Soil – Prep It Well
This is something else that I learnt the hard way. When I first started gardening I had no idea and would just chuck the plants in whatever soil, add nothing, and expect to get an amazing harvest. It wasn’t an overly successful way to garden! While I had a bit of a slow start to the season with starting everything from scratch I’m pleased that I took the time to prep my garden beds properly. I bought in a good quality volcanic soil from Green Fingers and then added layers of cardboard, newspaper (to some anyway), sheep pellets, pea straw, Yates vegan fertilizer, and a good seaweed soak prior to planting out. I’ve since mixed in compost to a lot of the garden to give it an added boost as well. Using things like compost and pea straw will also help hold in the moisture a little bit more over the summer months. The pea straw will also help to suppress those damn weeds. My top tip with pea straw is BUY IT IN BULK!!!! Don’t do a ‘Simone’ and buy it in those small overpriced bags for years. If we’re going to keep it real it took me until this year to learn that one the hard way haha. A money saving tip for sure! Happy Gardening Team!! I’ve loved reading all your tips.
Photos from left to right - Luke busy making wraps for his lunchbox with fresh produce from his garden, the excitement of picking radishes when they grow underground, my garden mate and favourite ratbag - Tigger. No judgement from this one when I come home with another box of plants I didn't really 'need' haha :)