Get Growing - the Basics
Find a sunny spot
Anything goes – so long as it gets about six hours of sun each day. Window sills, courtyards, balconies, and roof terraces are all great spots.
Preparation is key
Before planting, prepare your planting area well by mulching and composting and regularly turning over the soil to eliminate weeds. Soil should be crumbly and moist without being sticky to the touch.
Balcony gardening or planting in pots? Clear up your space and think about how you're going to utilise it. Plan what you're going to grow and what you're going to grow in.
Tools of the trade
If it holds soil and you can poke holes in the bottom for drainage - use it. Keep it green by re-using old containers, tins, buckets, baskets or bathtubs. If you’re short on space, try a trellis, hanging basket, vertical garden or green wall instead.
Seeds v seedlings
Seeds are usually cheaper and there’s more variety, but it also takes longer to enjoy the fruits of your labour. So if you’re new to the game, why not get your hands dirty with a few seedlings first.
Potted plants need good-quality soil that drains well, but won’t dry out too fast. Buy an organic mix suited to container gardens.
What to grow
If you're lucky enough to have a garden, pumpkins, potatoes, strawberries, cabbage, beetroot and carrots are all good choices, plus salad ingredients such as lettuce and tomatoes.
If you're going to be growing in pots, try small lettuce such as mignonette, snow peas, herbs and mixed Asian salad greens. Most of all start with what you love to eat!
Love your plants
Give your seedlings or seeds a good deep watering when you first plant them out. Water regularly after planting but be careful not to overwater, particularly if you're using pots or other containers.
Regularly fertilise your growing plants. Use a rich fish-based or organic liquid fertiliser - your plants will love it!
To keep away pests while your plants are growing, cover them with a fine net so bugs are kept out but the sun can still come in. Plant some flowers to attract bees and good insects whilst at the same time deterring those pests!
Small Space Gardening Tips
Step out on the balcony
Plenty of food can be grown on urban balconies. As long as there's enough sun (6-7hrs for veggies, 4hrs for leafy greens) you can grow almost anything!
Don't worry, a sunny windowsill can be the perfect spot for a pot of herbs. Or try sprouting or growing micro greens on your kitchen bench!
The community way
Another option is to join one of North Sydney’s community gardens. You’ll not only have plenty of space for planting, you’ll meet other green thumbs in your area.
Get together with your neighbours
If you live in an apartment block, you might want to put a notice up to see whether there are others in the building interested in starting a garden. It's a great way to meet people and grow some food at the same time.
If horizontal space is a problem, look up. Many vegetables grow well on a trellis (beans, peas, cucumbers) or in hanging baskets (strawberries & herbs).
Keep it small
Good things come in small packages and you don't need to have a lot of space to enjoy them. Herbs, cherry tomatoes, dwarf fruit trees and salad greens all grow well in pots which don't take up much room.
Invest in a worm farm. They don’t take up much space, you’ll be able to reuse all your green waste, and you’ll have a wonderful source of organic fertiliser for your plants.
Don’t just think pots – you can start a vegie patch in a recycled tub, gumboots, watering can or polysterene boxes. As long as water can drain through you can use anything!