River Cottage Australia

How to Construct a Veggie Garden

Thinking of putting a veggie patch in your own part of Australia?

Paul West and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall share their tips as they construct the very first River Cottage Australia Vegetable Garden:
  • Sunlight is very important - On average, a vegetable patch is going to need 5 to 6 hours of sun every day; choose a space with that in mind.
  • Be organised - Measure your space and use pegs and string to keep it straight.
  • You can build raised beds, but to keep costs down, dig straight into the soil, marking your border with a spade first before lifting the grass.
  • Spades are good for edges but to break up the grass and really get to the soil, use a mattock; they can be purchased easily at any hardware store.
  • When you’ve got the grass up, use a fork to lift and break up the soil, this will aerate it and gives your vegies a fighting chance.
  • Before planting anything, you need to take care of the soil; a good organic fertiliser will help your plants to grow full of nutrients and flavour.
  • Camel manure is rich in soil nutrients, which Paul and Hugh used but it’s not easy to come by. You can use sheep, goat, horse or cow manure; these will help to fill out and feed the soil, especially if it’s clayey or sandy soil.
  • If you can get your hands on fresh cow manure, you’ll need to age it in a pile for three or so weeks or it’ll burn the plants. Otherwise you can get it ready to go at any landscape supply or small nursery.
  • Winter provides a bounty of cold weather vegetables. Some great ones are broccoli and brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale but you need to plant your seedlings in April to harvest in the winter months. Remember to always plant for the seasons. You can find guides for planting with some quick web searches.
  • Although Paul’s planting his winter greens around 30 to 40 cm apart, another tip is to make sure you check how far apart to plant your seedlings; it really does vary from plant to plant. 
  • Make sure you water as soon as you plant and soak your seedling before-hand. For optimum plant growth, never let a vegie garden go dry.

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