Having fast-growing fresh vegetables in our backyard may just be the task to take on during the lockdown, and with an uptick in veggie prices forecasted earlier this year, it makes economic sense.
So, let's ask an expert about the dos and don’ts of creating your very own vegetable garden.
Amanda, a horticulturalist, from the Longview Garden Centre in Wentworth falls said it’s all about having the right soil, and feeding those hungry young plants. “Unimproved natural soil in Australia is very poor in nutrient value,” she told the Blue Mountains Phoenix. “You can improve it with compost, blood and bone, and cow manure.”
She said a good plan would be to purchase good soil, dig it up vigorously with garden tools, and then add those life-promoting products to the soil. Then plant the seedlings, and add mulch - like chopped lucerne, which feeds the plant as it breaks down. “But keep the mulch away from the stems of the seedlings, because they can rot,” she said. Other potential hazards to your growing vegetables include wild animals, slugs and snails, but you can use netting or products to keep these guys away.
She then advises using a liquid feed supplement once a week, because the growing vegetables get quite peckish. “Veggies are fast growing, as opposed to a tree or shrub, so they’re very hungry,” she said.
The types of veggies you plant all depend on where you live, so one of Amanda’s suppliers gave us a rundown.
For the much cooler Upper Mountains region he recommended kale, chives, silverbeet, beetroot, leek, and the Chinese vegetable, pak choi even does well there. The warmer Lower Mountains climate would be good for growing capsicum, chillies, beans, basil, coriander, parsley and any lettuce.
Mid-mountain folk can contact the nursery for specific advice as the overlapping conditions can make it tricky.
For queries about other vegetables, don’t hesitate to contact the Longview Garden Centre.
So besides helping you in the hip pocket, growing your greens have abundant benefits, and they are well proven. Gardening helps you use every major muscle group in your body, can be a mood booster, and helps in getting some vitamin D - essential for countless body functions, like strengthening your bones and the immune system. Gardening has also been proven through SAGE psychology journal research to calm us down a er a stressful event.
So in good preparation for those likely price hikes, keeping fit and having fresh as fresh greens in your home - give it a go.
Here are some cautions to consider:
1. Make sure to stay safe in the sun if you spend significant amounts of time outside, by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses.
2. Apply broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen or higher, drink plenty of water and work in the shade where you can.
3. Wear closed shoes, gloves and pay attention to product directions on any chemicals you use.
Sign up now for the latest news from the Blue Mountains area direct to your inbox.