For the Love of Thrifty Gardening
I am in the process of starting a new garden patch. There is a section on one side of the front garden, where it is difficult to get the mower around so I have begun one of my no dig gardens. I favour the no dig method initially because it is an energy and cost efficient method. Remember, I offer cost effective suggestions and the no dig garden can take some time to build up but if you never start …
I use old sleepers to define the edges but don’t let the lack of a defined space deter you and do not think you can’t start gardening until you can afford sleepers or whatever. Along a fence line can be a good spot as there are only three sides to define. Cover this area with newspaper or old cardboard boxes opened out. Cover the grass and weeds with enough thickness to allow no light to them and they will die and decompose into the soil. Next hose the newspaper until it is wet enough to stay in place and layer that with sugar cane mulch and build up the garden with compost and some organic manures and leave it to settle for a while. When you want to plant, make a space in the mulch, put in some quality potting mix to give the seedling a good start and plant into that. After a season or two the newspaper, compost, organic manures, potting mix and sugar cane mulch have broken down together to a sweet, friable soil.
Put as much organic matter back into the soil as possible, this must be an ongoing process. I compost but there are other ways to put organic matter back into the soil. Some people “plant” their kitchen scraps, a friend of mine who lived alone kept his kitchen scraps in a big glass jar under the sink and every couple of days would whizz them up with water and make liquid fertilizer. I have also used a bokashi bucket; my daughter has a worm farm and chickens. It’s a similar principle to my kitchen mantra which says do not pour flavour down the sink, my mantra for organic matter is do not put organic matter in the rubbish bin, find a way to get it back into the soil.
We have talked about seedling propagation and how to strike plants from cuttings but there is more. Garlic, ginger and turmeric will all grow from popping the bulb or rhizome in the soil. Sweet potato runners will propagate through planting a sweet potato which has started to shoot whilst in the pantry and healthy potatoes which start to eye in the cupboard can be popped into the soil and will produce more potatoes. Cut the root end off purchased shallots and pop into the soil to grow new shallot plants. Strawberry plants send out runners after each fruiting season which can be propagated and raspberry canes, which need to be cut out after fruiting, will strike in a new position. Pineapples are a member of the Bromide, family and will grow from a planted pineapple top. They take some time to mature bit it is easy to pop a pineapple top in the soil and just leave it alone. My point is that vegetable gardening does not have to mean the constant purchase of seedlings. There is a great buzz in watching Mother Nature at work.
The most wonderful thing about life is that it tells a story and your life tells your story. There is no better place to read that story than in the garden. When others know about your interest in gardening, often they will give plants as a gift. Lots of plants in my garden tell a story of love while other plants tell the story of my travels, some tell the story of past locations of living and working, some have come from the gardens of friends and all of these plants bring to mind special people and special times and add much joy to life.
This is the last post on shift to thrift in the garden. In the next post we will move onto Time and Thrift. But I will close with one final comment;