Friday, February 23, 2024

Gardening hacks for beginners

With the cost-of-living crisis escalating, National Gardening Week hopes to shine a light on the multiple benefits of growing your own vegetables. More people are living off their land and growing more for less. Even if you’ve never planted peas or potatoes, peppers or pumpkins, there is never a better time to start. To help you get started Yates has tips for budding gardeners.

Clear plastic sushi or salad ‘clamshell’ containers make great mini greenhouses for getting seeds started. Just poke a few vent holes in the lid, fill the bottom half with seed raising mix and sow your seeds. Add a little bit of water, close the lid, and place the container in a sunny spot.

If you’re planting out seedlings in cooler temperatures, you can protect them from frost, and slugs or snails by using 2L soft drink bottles. Take off the lid, cut off the bottom and push the bottle down over the seedling, into the soil. When the seedling, is ready to face the elements remove the bottle during the day and pop it back on overnight, until the seedling is mature enough to grow on its own.

If you’re short on space, you can start a bag garden. Black soft plastic polybags can be placed anywhere, are inexpensive and are an economical option to replace rigid and heavier pots when growing vegies and herbs. Use bigger sized bags as smaller bags dry out faster in hot weather.
Attract insect pollinators to your vegetable garden with colourful flowers. The more bees and butterflies you have visiting your vegies, the better your harvest will be.

If you have cats in your neighbourhood, make sure there isn’t any exasperating litterbox action in your newly sowed areas by ‘planting’ disposable wooden forks or chopsticks into the soil, to discourage digging… or just a bunch of pruning offcuts pushed into the soil.

Take advantage of sunny house or garage walls to grow tall tomatoes. Plant seeds in polybags and hang lengths of stretchy cotton plant ties from cup hooks under the eaves. You can spiral wrap it around the main stems to hang up the plant, then gradually train it to full height. Even a tomato plant heavily laden with fruit will hang quite comfortably from stretchy plant ties.

If you’re growing beetroot, there’s a good trick to maximise your results: soak the seeds in water overnight before you sow. When the seeds sink in the water, they’re ready. Each ‘seed’ is actually a cluster of one to four true seeds, protected by a corky outer coating.

Double the life of your vegetables by sprouting them from scraps that may normally get thrown out, including lettuce, celery, bok choy, leeks, and onions. Simply place the cut base of the vegetable in an inch of water, place in good light and change the water every couple of days. Once roots have shown on the cuttings, the sprouted vegetables can be planted out in the garden, or transferred into pots, to grow on into new plants.

Grow your vegetables from seed instead of seedlings. The math is simple, you get dozens more plants from a packet of seeds, for a fraction of the cost.

Join a garden club or community garden and learn everything you need to know from the pros.

Yates spokesperson, Fiona Arthur says, “Growing your own vegies is a never-ending learning process and so much fun. There is nothing better than picking you own vegies to pop in the pot—not to mention the massive savings that can be made.”

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