How to grow vegies at home
GROWING vegetables in your own home patch is rewarding and a valuable life lesson for children.
Peter Popenko, of The Plant Shack at Deception Bay, says autumn and winter are the best seasons for many of our favourite European vegies such as cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, beetroot and onions.
He suggests a position that receives about six hours of sun, away from trees that will rob the vegies of nutrients and water.
The soil for your new vegie patch needs to be about 20cm higher than the surrounding ground to achieve a good level of drainage. Make a garden bed with an edge to keep soil in place. Peter suggests using old bricks.
Soil preparation is vital. If you need to buy soil, here's Peter's recipe: For every square metre spread 300g organic fertiliser (Organic Extra or Organic Link), 100g gypsum, spread 5cm of compost/manure over and fork in.
For poor soil, per square metre, spread 500g to 1000g organic fertiliser (as previous), 200g dolomite, 200g gypsum, 100g Epsom salts and thick of layer compost or manure.
Before planting it's easier to cover the prepared soil with a layer of mulch. Peter suggests sugar cane, 5-7cm deep.
Before planting, dunk your seedling punnet in a bucket of organic-based liquid fertiliser. Move the mulch away and make a small mound with two hands and poke a two finger hole in the middle. Root teasing is not needed. Push the soil and mulch back around the plant.
Now water, but don't flood. Follow-up water with frequent light applications while the plant roots are superficial and slowly increase the amount of water and decrease the frequency as the plants grow.
Increase the frequency and the amount of water closer to harvesting because the plants will need it and the weather will be dry.
Peter suggests follow-up nutrition will ensure you get better produce than your neighbour's patch.
His other tips are: Plan to grow vegies over winter then rest the bed over summer; mix a high potassium liquid fertiliser such as Flourish with your organic liquid fertiliser for plants such as capsicums, carrots, tomatoes, beetroot, eggplant and beans.
To beat bugs, he suggests a molasses and detergent spray or other organic sprays.
Peter says a vegie garden is a commitment and not always cheaper initially than the supermarket option but it offers a lot more pleasure than just eating your own fresh produce - especially if you can get the kids involved.
Workshops on growing vegies and other topics are advertised only on Facebook and sellout quickly.
The Plant Shack, 2 Krause St, Deception Bay, is open seven days. Phone 3888 3737.
TIPS FOR A TOP CROP
Weeks 1, 2 and 3: Drench plants with an organic liquid fertiliser on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Week 6: Spray plants with organic liquid fertiliser with a little wetting agent every week until harvest. You could do this three times a week if you're super keen.
Week 8: Sprinkly organic granular food over the mulch at a similar rate as when you first prepared the soil.
Week 12: Apply a combined granular fertiliser over mulch and between the plants at 100g to 200g per sqm and water well.
Week 16: Reapply a light dose of combined granular fertiliser.