Planting a New Garden

This had to have been the best day of all. It took quite a while and I had a ball.

I managed to pick up quite a few seedlings at Bunnings to fill out the corner bed, and Ma had struck me some other plants too – alyssum, cosmos, that sort of thing. I had quite a few things in pots from the rental too. Actually the guys when they moved them ended up with the whole moving truck full of plants and couldn’t believe me, they were not impressed and said I need help.. Who’s laughing now!

I also stock piled my seeds as these are a really cheap way to fill the garden. I wish now that I had thought to grow them before I moved as seedlings, or even as we moved in. My Aunty suggested egg cartons and to make a small greenhouse out of wire/wood and bubble wrap. I think I might start doing this with my veggies!

My aim was to get the ground covered as we are coming up to summer and I don’t want my soil to dry out too much. I planted nasturtium seed in my patio bed, plus sunflower seeds, my dwarf lime, alyssum, sweet basil from seed. These seeds tend to take pretty quick and fill the bed cheaply, plus they’ll attract bees and butterflies. I bought a couple of established plants that I would like to screen my back fence lightly in the long run. I bought a grevillea for the southern end, a dwarf bougainvillea and a Nellie Kellie passionfruit. I filled the bed with some kangaroo paws, carrots form seed, seaside daises from the old place. Plenty of petunias and Liberia for bees and butterflies, chrysanthemum and calendula for pest resistance. My rosemary, geranium, lavender and chilli came from pots I had grown for years. Everything would bush out and cover the ground over the summer, and their soft leaves and flowers would easily break down in to the soil and compost to feed my worms. The first few years are crucial for the soil to establish so I need to take great care.

For this reason, I planted the seedlings a bit closer than recommended on the tickets. This means I will certainly cover the soil to reduce water loss. With both this and mulch my soil should thrive.

I have always like the idea of growing produce amongst the flowers, rather than in straight rows like you see in veggie patches. So amongst my flowers are carrots, radishes, watermelon and chilli – I added a couple of extra jalapeno plants too.

Further around my garden, between the vegie beds, I have planted zinnias from seed, geraniums struck by my aunty, peas to grow next to the passionfruit, oregano as a ground cover, chives, dill and Ma struck me some comfrey too. Comfrey does amazing things for your soil and the dying leaves are great food for worms. If you pick the leaves and soak in a bucket you can make a really nutritious fertiliser for your garden. You can grow comfrey from a root struck from a friend with ease. It’s a great source of potassium, you can use it as a mulch if you wish and is a great companion plant to bring nutrients to the surface for surrounding plants. If yours is struggling a little, a bit of dolomite should do the trick. Mostly thought they are pretty self sufficient and grow well in the shade too.

I have since put honeysuckle in the northern corner under the fence to in the hope to cool the fence in summer. I put this in a pot with a dish underneath as it will send suckers otherwise and is a pain to control.

If you don’t want to plant your plants close together, its really important you put mulch down as quickly as possible. This will protect the soil being washed away long term and also from drying out. If you prefer straight lines in your veggies patch it would be worth putting a few lines in between for companion plants to try to protect them. I read a great book about companion planting by Jackie French about companion planting. Three key things I took from the book –

  • Planting in rows looks like a smorgasbord from the sky for a bug. Try to disguise your plants instead.
  • Learn less about planting two things together because everyone says to, and more what different plants do for different pests – this means in the long run you know how to prevent a pest rather than taking up room in your garden for a pest you don’t suffer from.
  • Look local. Most companion planting books are form the UK or US, which means the pests they have probably don’t affect your yard. Try find some local studies or play with it yourself. The book mentioned above is Australian, FYI

Soak the plants well after planting and give them a good dose of season in a week or so do engage their roots. I put some snail pellets down too, I know a lot of people don’t like them which is fair. My MIL says you can get some sharp shell grit sort of thing that cuts slugs and snails as well as ants, so worth taking a look into as an alternative if you are less keen on snail pellets. The easiest way to control these guys though is to be vigilant and inspect your plants regularly to remove them. Pain in bum, but effective!

My veggies in the corrugated beds are almost all grown from seed. They are filled with tomatoes, basil, spinach, beetroot, capsicum, oregano, marigolds, radishes, chamomile, zucchini and some succulents . Nothing too formal and they are all very small at this stage!