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How to grow a veggie patch

Autumn is harvest time. It’s now time to enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of our gardening labour!

It’s also time to start filling up the veggie patch again for produce to enjoy over the cooler months.

If you’re a beginner looking to cultivate your own veggie garden from scratch, there are still plenty of seeds you can sow now before winter sets in. We’ve outlined some tips and recommendations to inspire you to get growing!

Which bed?
We’re actually not talking about mattresses this time! If you’re constructing a raised garden bed with top soil, your veggie garden may need more watering than an in-ground set up, but it does give you the ability to customize the soil from the get go.

If you’re going ahead with an in-ground garden, it pays to test your soil to find out what nutrients it needs. Whichever you decide, just be sure to pick a spot that gets a lot of sun!
3m x 3m is a good size for a beginner.

Seeds or seedlings?
It’s possible to grow just about any vegetable from seeds indoors using some soil in an egg container,  then transferring the seedlings into the ground. Depending on the maturity time of the veggies you’ve chosen (and your own patience) purchasing seedlings (baby plants) then planting them directly into your veggie patch is often a quicker and easier way to go. This is also a better idea if you’re living in a colder climate.


Companion plants
It pays to do some research into what plants grow well together in harmony! It’s a bit like a seating arrangement at a wedding, be sure your vegetables are going to be compatible as neighbours! The benefits of companion planting include repelling pests, improving growth and even enhancing the flavour of a crop.

Flowers
It’s a great idea to plant a few flowers in between your veggies. Why? Well aside from looking pretty, flowers serve two main functions as companion plants: attracting insects that eat pests, and also attracting bees that help pollinate your garden!

Clover, Lavander: Bees love these Borage: attracts bees, adds mineral to the soil Camomile: naturally antibacterial and antifungal, tea! – nuff said Nasturtiums: Easy to grow, edible (little purple stars you may remember from childhood?) They also attract hoverflies (good guys)

Broccoli
can grow in soil temperatures of 5 degrees C.
It’s a moderately heavy feeder, so work in 2 to 4 inches of rich compost or a thin layer of well-aged manure before planting
Companion plants: Sage (which repels the Cabbage White Butterfly)
Beetroot, Peas, Lavender, potatoes, mint
Possible Recipe: Broccoli salad with garlic, ginger, sesame, and olive oil marinade

Beetroot:
Beetroot is low maintenance, and ready to harvest in just two months.
Most Australian soils tend to be on the acidic side, so test the pH of your soil before planting.
Beetroot is perfect if you’re juicing, making a salad or of course the finishing touch to any home-made burger.
Companion plants: Kale, Peas
Raw beetroot is great in salads- just wash and grate.
Possible Recipe: Beetroot falafal


Peas:

Peas like cool conditions with temperatures between 15-24ºC. They hate frost. Most peas are climbers and will need a support structure.
Mildew is the most common problem and can be identified as powdery patches on the leaves and plants. Try to keep leaves as dry as possible (water at the base of the plant)
Companion plants: raddish, spinach
Possible Recipe: Simple, snap pea side dish

Garlic
Garlic is easy to grow and there are lots of varieties to choose from for autumn planting. Like onions, they have a long growing season and won’t be ready to harvest until next summer, but it is well worth the wait.
Home-grown garlic has a lot more flavour than the bleached supermarket kind, too.
Garlic is great for immunity over winter. Don’t like eating it raw you say? Try roast garlic, smooth, sweet and flavoursome.
Companion plants: There are many!
Dill (which deters aphids and other insects) Camomile (improves it’s flavour)
Possible Recipe: Roasted garlic

Radishes
Radishes have a peppery flavour and a crunchy texture that is perfect in salads.
They are easy to grow and some varieties only take 4-6 weeks to harvest.

Radishes can be useful as companion plants for many other crops, mainly because their pungent odour deters insect pests like aphids and ants.
Companion plants: Lettuce and Spinich
Possible Recipe: Raddish Slaw

Baby spinach
What is it? It’s literally just spinach- but the baby kind! It’s harvested early (15-35 days after planting) and still has all the nutrients of fully grown spinich. Baby spinach is great in salads, sandwiches, ravioli or pesto!

Companion plants: Broccoli, Kale
Possible Recipe: Chickpeas with baby spinach

Kale:Kale is known as a superfood and is extremely nutrient dense. Full of vitamin K (of course) and Vitamin C, It can be planted anytime from late summer through to winter. Kale grows well in part shade and with shelter from the wind.
Companion plants: Corriander
Finally, a Kale chips recipe, to ease you into the taste.
Yeah, yeah  we know they’re probably out of fashion now.

About the Writer

Eve has been a part of Koala since 2016 working within community management, customer care, and written content creation. Eve also works as an assistant for a local film production company. She resides in the port town of Lyttelton, New Zealand with her 3-year-old daughter. She has a strong interest in anything creative including music, sewing and jewelry design.

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