Do you want to make a quick mini garden? You can grow healthy ‘fast food’ like salad veggies and herbs in a simple box. Best of all, you can make it in about 15 minutes. The bonus is you’ll be eating the rewards in just a few weeks for only a minimal investment of time AND money. Let’s get started!
This is a system I’ve used for years with great success and it’s so easy. Even if you’re a beginner gardener or on a budget and need a thrifty solution, this is it!
Materials you’ll need:
- A table or workbench (I line mine with some newspaper to keep it clean while I’m putting my micro garden together).
- A new or undamaged, clean polystyrene box (Tip: I get mine free from local green grocers or supermarket, but you can try fish mongers or stores that sell fresh fruit and veggies – you’re doing them a favour by repurposing boxes that would otherwise end up in landfill).
The bottom of the box below:
- A suitable quantity of potting mix (I make my own – you can use my easy DIY recipe or a mix you are happy with but I suggest you include suitable soil food like I do so your plants are off to a healthy start).
- Paper towel (about 4 sheets) or other suitable liner.
- Selection of healthy seedlings (if you choose to grow climbers like peas or beans, you may also need a tepee or support stakes with ties).
- A few handfuls of organic mulch.
- Optional: Shade cloth or exclusion netting (depending on your situation and climate)!
Step 1: Wearing your gloves and mask, line the poly box with a couple of strips of paper towel to cover the drainage holes in the bottom and prevent the potting mix escaping.
Step 2: Tip in sufficient potting mix to sit about 1-2cm (1 in) below the lip of the box.
Step 3: Using the handle of the trowel make a small hole for each seedling. (Tip: How close you plant depends on the variety – skinny chives can be planted ‘up close and personal’ but leave more room for veggies that like extra ‘personal space’ to mature.) See the spacing example below:
Below: Garden in a box a week later.
Step 4: Pick up the pre-soaked* seedling and gently lower into the hole. (* See Tips below)
Step 5: Repeat until all seedlings are planted and then water in with seaweed/molasses solution.
Step 6: Finally top with a few handfuls of mulch (about 2-3cm deep), leaving about 1-2cm (1 in) gap around the stem of each seedling.
Celebrate your new garden – add your plant labels!
Tips for a Successful Instant Veggie Garden:
- Use a Moon Calendar to plant at the optimum time for an abundant, fast growing healthy crop.
- Baby Love: Just like you wouldn’t throw a baby into a cot, you need to handle your ‘baby plants’ with care as they move from one ‘bed’ to another.
- Vertical Veggies: Want to grow climbing veggies like peas, beans, tomatoes or cucumber? Easy – add a tepee (get my free instructions on making yours from bamboo stakes for under $1) or portable A-frame trellis to your Instant Veggie Garden.
- Good Looking: Want to make it prettier? Get creative and give the box a coat of non-toxic eco-friendly paint or choose another container you like better.
- Potting Mix: If you choose to buy a bag of organic potting mix, you’ll probably need around 15-20kg depending on the size of the box you use. Remember to add soil conditioners to feed the plants – I add these to my home made potting mix to save time when I want to start planting my garden.
- Soak or spray your seedlings: To avoid transplant shock, sit your punnet of seedlings in a shallow container for about 15-30 minutes with a strong solution of seaweed (kelp) or add some to a recycled spray bottle and mist the seedling roots before planting (this takes longer though!)
In Part 2, I show you how to grow a variety of plant combinations in these micro gardens for best results. For video instructions on my planting system for seedlings plus a barrow load of tips on organic vegetable growing, check out the Give It A Go DVD.
Related: Micro Gardening; The Benefits of Container Gardening; Getting a Small Kitchen Garden Started; Choose the Healthiest Seedlings; Harvesting Vegetables & Herbs & Tips for Growing a Garden in Pots.
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