Did you know that every four kilograms of fruit and vegetables grown in a back yard could lower your carbon footprint, and save nine kilograms of CO2?
That may seem insignificant in the bigger picture but one small step by all of us can help save the environment, lower our carbon footprint and supply you with some fruit and vegetables, not to mention a little extra cash in your wallet!
I think it is worth sitting up, taking some notice and asking how can I do that?
Before we go any further, you're probably thinking, what do I know about fruit and vegetable gardens, I can barley keep the gold fish alive, let alone a whole backyard market garden.
I am not looking to set you up as the next big supplier of fruit and vegetables to the whole neighbourhood, and if you were, then my advice would be a bigger backyard. Just kidding!
I understand that we all lead busy lives, what with work, kids, cats, dogs, and the all important not enough hours in the day syndrome.
Well, that’s what I am here for! This blog will give you some small steps and explain how to start your very own DIY personal garden with sustainable fruit and veg varieties that can survive a busy lifestyle!
Your very own backyard fruit and veg supermarket!
Did you know that a two-dollar tomato seed packet can provide you with at least four and a half kilograms of product over the course of one season. What! No way you say!
And here’s how.
Step one; you need to determine how much space you can allocate to your new backyard fruit and veg market. Positioning is fairly important with equal amounts of sun and shade if possible. Keeping in mind that each veggie, fruit, and plant needs a little space between each other. Perhaps a 2-meter x 2-meter area would allow a wider variety of fruit and veggies if you have the luxury of space. If not, don’t worry find a spot near a side fence, carport or washing line. This allows for partial protection from the elements while still providing enough sunlight and shade.
I haven’t forgotten about those who live in an apartment, the plastic bottle method works a treat in this case and can be placed in the kitchen next to the to spice rack or used as a living ornament in your hallway; the possibilities are endless.
Step two; eliminate the competition by removing any existing plants and weeds from your new garden location to give your new veggies and fruit the best chance of survival.
Ensure before you plant your new crop you turn the soil over before you start planting. Little hint; before you start planting, go and buy a small bag of compost, which you will be able to get from any hardware, nursery and some selected supermarket stores.
Mix the compost in with your soil and water well, this supplies additional nutrients and gives your fruit and veg the all-important start to life. It is recommended that you allow your well-watered soil to sit for a couple of days before planting anything.
This will allow the compost to break down, the longer you wait, the better the result.
Step three; so you prefer something raised, deeper and trendier; the fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to create a raised bed. Here’s an example of one below, this also gives a very stylish look to your garden and adds a little bit of depth to your new little veggie market.
To make a raised garden box you need four square pieces of wood to make a square or rectangle shape, the wood should be 30cm in height to ensure that soil can be packed securely inside the box.
Ok, you’re in an apartment, and you want to start a fruit and vegetable operation. Well you cannot! But what you can do without destroying the apartment, getting kicked out and never getting your bond or your veggies is. Follow instructions below, and avoid any sharp edges. This is my waiver upfront. I’m not responsible for bumps, scratches, and loss of digits.
Materials: A couple of plastic bottles, a sharp knife, (you have been warned, do not cut your fingers off!), duck tape, some soil and your chosen seeds.
Step one; secure the lid on the bottle and use the duck tape to make it airtight and to ensure water does not leak out.
Step two; lay the bottle on its side and cut a rectangle window where you place soil and water. Use the duck tape to cover the edges making sure you don’t cut yourself on the plastic, when watering and tending to your plants.
Step three; fill your plastic bottle with soil and compost making sure most of the bottle is full.
Step four; plant your chosen fruit or veggie, water them and sit back and watch them grow. Here is my next waiver. Do not expect an orange tree. You need to pick the fruit and veggies for the situation, perhaps Cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers, etc.
Let’s talk food!
The veggies, fruit, herbs listed below are the best crop that can survive the busy lifestyle we all lead.
Mint is extremely easy to grow; the seed loves a damp area and a little sunlight (so a semi-hidden space is ideal) thus allowing mint to easily thrive throughout the year. Mint can be grown both outside and inside the home. This is a suitable seed for apartment gardeners too.
It needs a pot 30cm deep or plant in a large soda bottle to have enough room to grow. It will take 1-2 months to see you plant bloom but remember to let it grow substantial before you go picking it bare! You can leave mint and it will look after it self.
Silverbeet is extremely easy to grow so its definitely a winner. The only way to kill silverbeet is to leave it for several weeks without water or compost! Silverbeet can be grown in small or large spaces. Very versatile which is also convenient for those who live in small spaces.
It takes Two-months from planting to bloom and it will continue to produce for the next six months. The plant may look like its on deaths door but be assured it will bounce back and will continue to do so through the seasons.
This seed would be suited to an apartment or small garden. Leafy greens do not need much sunlight and can be packed tightly together in a small space. Leafy Greens are great in small pots, wall units and to fill the gap where the bigger stuff is planted.
In summer and spring leafy greens will harvest very quickly.
From paddock to plate or kitchen window to salad plate with your choice of fish.
This veggie needs a little more space so it may not do as well inside. Zucchini requires enough sunlight and water in the first few weeks, after that you’re in business. When planting zucchini please give it enough space so each zucchini can expand and grow. You will need around 50cms sq minimum per zucchini.
Don’t be surprised if they overgrown this space! After a month of watching your zucchini, (I don’t really believe you're going to stand there for a month) you should start to see flower’s bloom.
Zucchini’s are pretty tough, they have an inbuilt defense against the sun, therefore, you might find that they stop growing or play dead during our very hot days.
This crop is FOOL proof! Even if you forget you had the plant it will still bare fruit.
Top hint; allow 50cms squared for each seed for enough room and throw some basil in there for good measure. These plants are peas in a pod! Allow the seeds to sit for two to three months and you will start to see the growth of your new tomatoes. That’s one more to add to your salad! Treat them mean to keep them keen, don’t pick them all at once make sure there is enough for them to replenish.
Place the seeds into the ground with a little water and in six weeks you will be sick of eating them! Easiest plant to look after. The radish can be grown in a small area or a large garden bed, so it will suit an apartment style garden and outdoor lifestyle.
Radishes don’t really die due to neglect, they rather become overgrown instead. Get use to eating Radishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The space to grow a pumpkin is large, as you probably guessed! So for an apartment garden box this one is definitely off the books for you! Usually, pumpkin takes roughly two months before the crop looks like it has made some progress. Pumpkins like, other seeds tend not to give up and die...sometimes there is some collateral damage but nothing that can be fixed with some TLC.
Well, with this fruit your salad is complete! Cucumber is incredibly resilient to pest and disease, which is great because that means less commitment from you!
Cucumber likes the sun but also appreciates semi shade. Cucumber, depending on the type you decide to purchase, can be both grown inside and outside. Usually, the first sight of a cucumber will be at four weeks, followed by a large amount of them a few months later. The younger cucumbers will potentially die if not cared for however the already established vines and fruit are extremely rigorous and will continue on growing if left!
These veggies just don’t die! Even if you were to cut them down to ground point they will continue to pop back up! This plant is not needy the only request it asks for is compost and water every now and then! Place the seeds side by side leaving very little room (3-5cms). Usually, you will see results within the first two to three weeks!
Talk about fast food, right! Spring Onions are pretty tough so you will be able to walk away after planting. Don’t be too worried if you have watered in a couple of days.
Herbs are easy to grow as they are hardy and perennial which makes them the first seed you should consider planting in your new patch.
Fun fact; picking the herb actually helps them grow, so get used to cooking with herbs because you will have plenty of them! Herbs like sunlight, water, and some good soil so make sure they have enough of each in your garden box. Your herbs can be grown both inside and outside so makes it ideal for people living in apartments. Herbs usually need a 20cm pot or a small part of your veggie patch. If you forget to water them they won’t die on you, which is great for the busy go-getters I know you are!
The plants I have listed in this blog are the best beginner seeds to start with. All of them can live with an owner that has a busy lifestyle and can survive anything and could potentially provide you and your family yearly with fresh produce.
So you’re not only saving money, but also you're helping the environment, lowering your carbon footprint, which helps Mother Nature! WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?