Here’s some Answers to your Questions !!
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A few months ago I asked all subscribers to email me with any questions they have about their garden. I received many fantastic emails asking so many questions, it was great to hear from so many people.
I thought I would share a few of those questions in this week’s Blog Post. These are questions that I’ve been asked many times over the years.
As my life’s busy with family, business and looking after our home and garden I have time scheduled into the week to get gardening jobs done. I spend about 10 hours a week in the garden, but keep in mind that I’m growing a lot of food for my family.
In the “From The Ground Up’ Workshop we cover planning your garden. A few things I get everyone to think about is how many people in their household, how much growing space you have and how many hours can you spend in the garden. These things will help you plan how big your gardens will be and then how much time you spend in the garden. If there are two people in your household and you live on a town block and work fulltime, then I would suggest starting with one or two small garden beds, plant a few dwarf fruit trees and have a compost bin or worm farm. This is a good start and each season if you’re all enjoying the garden and find you’d like more fresh food then expand your kitchen garden to grow more. My big tip for starting to grow is always plan BIG, but start small.
Some days I only have time to walk through the gardens with a cuppa, harvest a few veggies for dinner or pick some fruit and that’s it. Other days I could spend hours in the garden and easily lose track of time.
Another common question is “What should I grow first?” Big decisions here…
When I start working with new clients I ask them, as a family, to complete a Shopping List. We then plan to have the foods growing that the family enjoys the most.
To start your list first write down the foods you all eat most of, then record other foods you would like to have. If you have only a small garden area then start off with your favourite foods. My family enjoys loads of fresh salads through summer so these are the things that I would plant the most of. If you love Asian cooking then consider ginger, galangal or turmeric and then grow plenty of asian greens, coriander, parsley and maybe also cucumber if you have the space. If you plan on having a few fruit trees it’s a good idea to get these in first as they will take a few years to fruit. Look for the sunniest positions with good drainage and also consider the size of the tree when fully grown so the trees don’t block the sunshine from the veggie garden. Do a garden plan before you begin any gardening work to save time and money in the long run. Also consider the seasons and plant what is suitable for the time of year, eg cool or warm climates.
This is one question that is always discussed at our Workshops and a lovely lady recently emailed me about this. Sowing seeds can be a little confusing as there’s so much information available. Most people ask “how to water and how much to apply and also do you mulch over seeds??” I’ll keep this simple so you all have great success when sowing seeds.
Seeds come in so many shapes and sizes. When watering freshly sown seeds I always use a small hand sprayer filled with water. Once the seeds are sown I give them a light spray (about 4 or 5 sprays) just enough to dampen the soil. I place them in a part shaded position until they germinate (sprout) and I then slowly introduce them to more sunshine. Once the seeds have germinated I then add a small amount of liquid fertiliser (comfrey tea, natrakelp, worm juice, etc) to the spray bottle to make a very weak foliar spray. I then spray the seedlings (sprouted seeds) twice per day to keep them slightly damp. When they are strong enough and have about 6 leaves I then plant them into the garden. After this I use a hose or watering can to lightly water them. Use this same process when sowing seeds straight into garden beds and you can also use a hose with a fine mist to lightly dampen them.
There’s no need to mulch over the seeds as this can stop the seeds from germinating. Mulching suppresses weeds and seeds from sowing so if you mulch over your seeds they may not grow. You can mulch around seeds sown in the gardens and then as the seedling grows gently mulch around them. They’re like new babies, so treat them gently and with care and they’ll grow and thrive for you.
Many years ago while working as a landscape gardener I was always asked about lawn care. Recently I received an email about caring for lawns and also lawn grub. There are a few misconceptions about this and you may get different answers if you ask someone at a hardware store about it.
Living on acreage the only thing we do is cut our grass. Part of this will be cut with a ride-on (Paul and Archey’s job!) and I also use a push mower with a catcher to collect grass clippings for the compost or no-dig gardens. We don’t feed or spray our grass with any products as I don’t think there’s a need for this.
If you live on a smaller block and would like a nice lawn the best thing to do is use an organic slow release fertiliser like blood and bone or organic chook pellets. Treat your lawns as you would your garden and improve the soil. Most lawns are growing on poor soil either very sandy or rocky. To have a thriving lawn just improve the soil it’s growing in (having good humus) and add organic fertilisers each season (3 months) You’ll find your lawn with then be more resistant to lawn grub, weeds growing and any other problems. It’s better for your soil (and the environment) to apply organic fertilisers to strengthen the grass rather than spraying with unnecessary chemicals to treat one condition. This will be more harmful to the lawn than beneficial. If you are using grass clippings in your compost and garden it’s better not to use any ‘weed and feed’ lawn products as they contain synthetic chemicals and fertilisers which are harmful to the compost, earth worms and your soil.
If you notice your lawn dying off or going brown in patches it may not be lawn grub, just lawn die back. This occurs when the grass is cut during warm, dry conditions or if the grass has dried out. To prevent this happening I would suggest mowing lawns in the late afternoon or shortly after rain as the grass will be moist and will cope with being cut. Die back is usually caused from the grass being exposed to the sun and heat after being cut. It will grow back again after rain, so no need to apply any products.
I hope this has helped you with a few things you may have been thinking about. If you have any other questions that you would like to ask please send me an email. I would love to hear from you.
Also, if you have any plants that you would like identified please email a picture to me and I will send you some information.
Enjoy your day,
© cath manuel 2012