living in melbourne, nature, photos
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How to make a garden (in Melbourne)

If you’ve never tried making a garden, now’s the time to give it a shot. As the weather warms, this is the perfect time of the year to plant some seeds and watch them grow.

The internet is full of information and advice on how best to make a garden, but I’ll pass on a few small tips that I’ve found to be the most helpful.

1. Pots
Those of us who live with small gardens (or no gardens) will need to grow our plants in pots or other containers. You can buy plastic pots very cheaply from Kmart; the bigger the better. I also use a couple of large wooden drawers that I found on the roadside. With a few holes cut in the bottom, they work perfectly as a garden bed. One advantage of using pots is that you can strategically place them in the spots that get the most direct sunlight — a crucial factor for growing most plants.

2. Compost
Juicy, wormy compost is, basically, plant food. Without it, your plants will have a difficult time growing up to be big and strong — think Popeye minus his spinach. The bright side is it’s easy to start your own compost heap, not to mention environmentally friendly.

3. Seeds versus seedlings
Seedlings are easier to grow for a first-time gardener, as the fragile easy stages of the plant’s life have already been safely navigated. Buying seedlings will also mean you’ll have your fruit/veggies/flowers sooner, as much of the growing has already been done. On the other hand, it’s pretty fun and exciting to plant a seed and watch it pop up. Growing from seed can also be cheaper, although you’ll do well to buy seed-raising mix rather than skimping and using plain soil so that the seeds have the right balance of nutrients. CERES Nursery in Brunswick East is a lovely place to buy plants, although it may be a touch more expensive than buying from somewhere like Bunnings.

4. Mini-greenhouses
My basil seedlings were struggling in the cool spring weather, so I covered each one with a plastic container (a tupperware or half a bottle) and they’re now thriving. An easy method is to take a large clear bottle (like a soft drink or juice bottle) and cut the bottom out. Place it over the seedling and you’ll soon see moisture droplets forming on the inside of the bottle, just like a mini-greenhouse.

5. Fertilise
This year, for the first time, I used Seasol to fertilise my plants, and the difference is huge. A 600ml bottle of Seasol costs around $6, and it will last for months (depending on the size of your garden, of course). Another completely free but perhaps slightly controversial fertiliser is, well, wee. Yes, I mean human urine. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve read about the enormously beneficial effects it will have on plants — particularly on tomato plants, it seems. Urine is completely sterile in its first 24 hours, so it’s totally safe and hygienic to use on the garden. It needs to be diluted, but otherwise all you need is a bucket and a full bladder. Read more here.

For more gardening info, the ABC’s Gardening Australia website has tons of tips on growing a garden in this part of the world, including a handy Vegie Guide with advice specific to Melbourne.

Happy gardening!

Got any gardening tips? Please share below!

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2 Comments

  1. Peter Forward says

    Forget the Seasol, get a wormfarm (Bunnings sell them and buy worms online e.g. http://www.ecovalleyworms.com.au/worm-farm-products/ ), feed it with your kitchen scaps and put wormjuice daily on your garden, diluted of course. Do not add manure to your compost heap unless you are certain it has NO chemicals. Horse paddocks are often sprayed with broadleaf herbicides which pass through the animal gut AND KEEP KILLING PLANTS as manure! see; http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=477 most gardeners are unaware of this in Australia, and the chemical Co’s are keeping a low profile. Lastly, remember that your body includes at least 2kgs of microbial species which you feed each day, you garden is the same. Best gardeners feed soil microbes not plants, they will feed themselves.

    • the melbourne local says

      All hail the garden king! I never knew worm juice was so good for the garden. Maybe I’ll have to get one… Thanks for all the advice, Pete!

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