Although access to garden products and plants isn't the same as usual the moment, it's still possible to start your own vege garden to grow fresh homegrown food for your family to eat.
We've put together some options to get you started no matter the size of your backyard.
Having a garden bed already is a bonus during this time as you have a space to start. Remove any weeds, grass or old crops from the garden to start a fresh. Even if it is a small garden bed, you can still pack plenty in.
You could also build a new garden bed using wood and bricks you already have on hand.
Pots and containers
If you don’t have a garden bed already, get creative with what you already have available. It’s amazing what you can plant into! Small concrete planters, troughs, flexi tubs, wine barrels, terracotta planters, old baths, teapots and wooden planters are all options to consider when you can’t buy planters or build a bed. We’ve even seen people growing in old drawers!
Pallet gardens are the perfect way to maximise space and grow plenty of your own fresh food. Upcycle an old pallet (you may have one lying around or find one going spare in your neighbourhood) and set it up close to the kitchen. Follow our Pallet Gardening Hack here.
Vegepod raised garden bed kits are a simple and effective way to grow your own and they are available for purchase, however due to high demand there could be a delay in receiving.
If you have access to soil in your garden you can use this while you can’t purchase new mix. The key is to replenish the soil before planting so there are some nutrients available to plants.
- Homemade compost is great option to dig into the soil if you already have a compost bin. Follow our guide here if you're keen to start making compost.
- If you have sheep pellets these can also be dug in to replenish soil, encourage earthworms and nourish your plants.
- If you don’t have either of the above, or general fertiliser on hand, dig in fertiliser you do have – this could be strawberry, potato, citrus or tomato food. It will give your soil nutrients and your plants a better start than soil on its own.
- If you are looking to add manure e.g. horse manure, this can be dug in if it's old and dry. However if it's still fresh and green, wait at least 4-6 weeks before adding to your soil and planting into. Due to it’s high nitrogen content it has the potential to burn plant roots if it hasn't dried enough.
- Potting mix can be used to grow seeds in if you don't have seed raising mix, as long as it isn't a mix with water crystals as this will hold too much moisture for germination. Fill half a tray with potting mix, firm down so it is flat and level in the tray, then sieve a finer layer on top to remove the bigger chunky bark. Water the tray before sowing seed. The aim is for an even surface so that the seeds don't fall down below the soil and get buried and don't manage to reach the light.
Seed and seedling options
Check out Awapuni Nurseries as they are selling seedlings online every Thursday within the North Island (check their latest notifications for updates).
Mitre 10, Kings Seeds and the Koanga Institute are also selling seeds from their online stores. Due to high demand orders will take longer to process and be delivered. Your local supermarket will also have seeds available.
Grow from your groceries
Re-growing your groceries is one way to grow more crops! Use veges that you have purchased and place in water to grow roots. Once the roots have grown, replant into your garden to grow.
Options to re-grow and plant include:
- Spring onion
- Herbs - you can purchase the supermarket herbs in pots and plant into your garden.
- Garlic - will grow roots without water.
- Potatoes - once they grow eyes.
- Homemade compost can be added to replenish soil and add nutrients.
- Worm tea from your worm farm provides free and natural fertiliser for your plants. It can be applied throughout your garden. Remember to dilute your worm tea with water at a 1:10 ratio before feeding to your plants..
- Sheep pellets are a great general fertiliser and soil conditioner so can be regularly applied to gardens, mix and water in well to the soil.
- If you have a general or all purpose fertiliser on hand this can be used throughout your garden, and suitable for all plants. If it's a blended fertiliser and not a slow release or controlled release fertiliser, apply at a rate less than you would in garden beds if you are feeding plants in pots and containers, so as to not feed your plants to quickly in a more confined space.
- Look at what fertilisers you have on hand and what you can substitute to feed other plants. For example citrus food and strawberry food can be used for other fruit trees and flowering plants due to the extra potassium. Potato food is able to be used for feeding bulbs due to the phosphorus (P) content. Feel free to check in with us if you have a fertiliser you aren’t sure about using on a certain crop.
Mulching protects your plants from extremes in temperatures, keeps roots moist, suppresses weed growth. Make your own using autumn leaf drop, grass clippings from the lawn, pine needles and straw you may have.
Watering is now easier that water restrictions have been lifted around the country. As the weather cools you will find you won’t have to water as frequently. As a general rule you only need to water every 3-5 days.
Check the moisture of your soil. If the soil is moist 10cm below the surface it should be fine, if it is dry at this level it needs to be watered.
If you don’t have any Tui Quash slug & snail control on hand, try cracked egg shells around seedlings or beer traps! Leave a wide jar of beer in the garden to attract slugs and snails to crawl down into and drown.
- Harvest in 40-60 days