This story begins at Christmas time 2013 when my Dad built me a stand-alone vegie box out of recycled materials - timber and offcuts of corrugated iron. It was easy to assemble and pull apart - handy considering our status as renters. But then, in the old house, it sat empty and neglected for most of the year. I grew up watching my Dad's garden grow and whilst I had every intention of tending to my own little plot, our old backyard proved to be more of a hindrance than an inspiration. With very little direct sunlight, drainage issues (at times it was quagmire-like) and a steep sloping block, it was definitely a chore to go out there. I settled with herbs in pots on the front step and the balcony; enough to add a little kick to the evening meal. But this new house? We chose it for quite a few reasons, one being its aspect. It's bathed in sunlight for most of the day; a welcome relief after spending seven years in a dark and damp abode. We perched the vegie box close to one of the established orange trees so it gets direct sunlight from early morning till about 2pm; dappled sunlight from then until dusk. My Dad sourced some good quality soil, we planted some seeds and seedlings and now, four weeks later, we are reaping the rewards (thanks in part to some decent rain and a full water tank). The capsicums, tomatoes and cucumbers are just sprouting and the kale, lettuce and rainbow chard makes its way onto the table most nights. The beetroot should be ready to harvest in a few weeks time and whilst the chillis, society garlic and rocket were planted by the previous owners, they are providing us with a constant source of spice. Growing food is incredibly satisfying and rewarding; it's easy to understand why people get addicted to it. The act of being on and around the earth is grounding and regardless of how successful the plot is, there is a sense of calm that comes from nurturing and tending to plants. It's a feel-good process, that's for sure.
Since moving to this new house we have spent so much more time outdoors; at the beach and in the garden. I will never underestimate the gratification that comes from direct sunlight - I can dry the washing and grow vegetables! Simple things.
Whilst my Dad is a constant source of garden knowledge, I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for making your garden grow. Any must read books or magazines?