Organic Food Gardens

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The main focus for our blog is to pass on information and tips about growing food using Permaculture methods, to help vegetable garden owners take responsibility for their garden and their own backyards allowing them to supplement their diet with real whole foods grown by themselves in a fully supported and natural way.


Companion Planting

Companion Planting

Companion planting is growing vegetables, flowers and herbs together to create a healthy garden. Companion planting can provide nutrients to the soil.

Colourful flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden. Bees and insects that are attracted by colour and will pollinate flowers and this increases the chances of fruit.

Flowers attract lady beetles who eat aphids, water in ponds attracts dragonflies who prey on pest insects and ponds also attract lizards who eat snails and slugs.

Dill attracts beneficial wasps.

Good companions like the legumes ( vegies that grow pods ) like beans and peas release nitrogen from their roots which benefits leaf growing vegies like lettuce.

Other good companions include:

  • Basil that repels flies and mosquitoes,
  • Chives that have a strong smell that confuses thrips, chives are often planted with roses.
  • Lots of herbs planted together create a combination of smells which confuse and deter pests.
  • Celery repels white cabbage butterflies,
  • Nasturtium will deter aphids and bugs,
  • Marigolds will keep soil free of nematodes
  • Petunias will repel tomato worm.

Comfrey

 Comfrey

Blue Salivia

Blue Salivia 

Mexican Purple Sage

Mexican Purple Sage 

Ornamental Garlic

Ornamental Garlic

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage 

The use of natural vegetables, herbs and flowers in combination together will decrease the need for using chemicals in the garden. It’s working with nature.

See under Seasonal Task Spring and Summer for companion planting combinations and always remember to practice crop rotation.

Top Images: Pineapple Sage (left) Nasturtiums (right) 


Raised vegetable gardens

Raised vegetable gardens can be made to a height of 1 metre to 1.5 metres usually to  waist height. These raised beds allow gardeners to work at a comfortable height without having to bend over and work at ground level.

They can be made of timber or recycled bricks / materials and filled with good soil and compost. Their ideal for wheel chair access and they can be netted by placing stakes at each corner and then placing a net over the bed to keep out pest insects and wildlife. An assortment of herbs and vegetables can be grown in them.

Raised Garden beds  

Wicking Beds

Wicking beds are raised garden beds that are self watering. They hold water below the soil and water is sucked up by the plants roots through capillary action when it’s needed. The base of a wicker bed is lined with a pond liner then on top of pond liner porous rubble is placed. Placed in the middle of the rubble is an agricultural line ( Ag pipe ) which zig zags through the rubble and is connected to a PVC pipe which extends to the top of the raised bed. This PVC pipe is filled with water which flows into the Ag line in the lower area of the bed.

On top of the rubble geotextile fabric is placed with the soil placed on top of that. An overflow outlet pipe is placed at the point where the soil meets the geotextile fabric.

Raised Wicking bed Raised Wicking Garden


Wicker beds are great during dry period and summer as they are self watering.

Gardening in small spaces

Gardening in small spaces

If you live in a unit with a balcony or a town house with a small court yard you can still grow herbs, vegies and fruit.

Pots and polystyrene boxes can be used in small spaces. With a little sunshine and premium potting mix an assortment of plants can be grown. With the polystyrene box make some holes in the base of the boxes to allow for drainage. Put some stones / pebbles in the holes of the pots and the base of boxes so the water may drain without soil leaching. Purchase quality potting mix like pot n peat. Healthy soil = healthy plants. Pots and boxes can be placed on feet for pots or garden / pot plant shelves.

Once you have all the materials plant out seasonal herbs and vegies, add colour with annuals and flowering plants. These flowering plants will attract good insects and pollinators. Dwarf fruit trees can be grown in pots. Climbers like beans, peas and passionfruit can be grown around vertical balcony railings. Worm farms can be used as they are clean and are self contained. Worm farms will take care of kitchen scraps and provide liquid fertiliser. Even a small pond can be created by using a medium to large pot which does not have a drainage hole. Fill with water add some aquatic plants, grow some water chestnut, keep native rainbow fish. The aquatic plants will act as filters and the rainbow fish will eat mosquito lava.

A small space can be made into a beautiful productive area.

 For more information see Small Gardens and Balcony Gardens


Autumn Tasks - Vegie Gardens


Vegie patch - If your home vegie patch has been overrun by weeds, there are a few ways of renewing it.

Green Manure MixOption one

Pull out all the weeds and plant a winter green manure crop. Green manure crop is made up of a mixture of seeds like oats ,lupins, rye corn and dun peas. Green manure will grow over winter, it will crowd out weeds and when dug back into the soil in early spring will provide nutrient to the earth. Green manure can be purchased on line, see Green Patch if you live in NSW or the ACT or see Green harvest if you live in Queensland.

Option two

Either pullout all the weeds or leave the weeds and cover with sheets of damp newspaper. If you leave the weeds in the patch use extra sheets of newspaper. The paper acts as a weed mat. Then place down a layer of mulch this can be Lucerne or sugar cane mulch. You can allow the patch to rest over winter or plant winter vegetables and winter annuals. If it’s to be the latter place soil over the layer of mulch / Lucerne and mix soil with compost, cow manure, blood and bone, and chicken pellets. Then place another layer of Lucerne over the top of the soil mix. When planting vegies and flowers make a hole in the Lucerne, drop some soil into the hole and plant your seedlings. Then spread Lucerne around the base of plantings. This is called a No dig garden.
for more information on  No dig gardens .

laydown newspaper to cover the garden Cover with lucernRest the garden till spring

Shady vegetable garden

Let them rest over winter, you could try green manure or just mulch with newspaper and Lucerne. In summer try leafy greens like Asian greens, all types of lettuce, Spinach, Silverbeet, some chillies and bananas.

For more information on Winter vegetables and flowers.

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