Grow up
Outdoor Living|Backyard & Outdoor Living #56
If you’ve never thought about growing plants from seeds, take a walk on the wild side and give it a try. It might just blow your mind
CARROL BAKER
There’s nothing like the tranquil feeling of strolling around your vegetable patch, a morning cuppa in hand, watching dew droplets cling to the leaves of your fledgling seedlings. Perhaps you’ll even witness for the first time when a tiny seed germinates, making its way through the earth to reach the sun.

There’s a host of good reasons to grow plants from seeds. It’s a positive way to connect with Mother Earth, your vegetables are super fresh and therefore more nutrientdense, you know exactly where your crops have come from, and you’ll save money. Before long you’ll be reaping the benefits of a bountiful harvest you can share with friends and family, and you’re also doing your bit to promote a cleaner, greener planet.

With more of us spending time on our own little patch of dirt, why not put yours to good use and become more self-sufficient? Kids enjoy playing in mud and dirt, so getting them involved in your vegetable garden should be easy. Gardening is a way for them to develop their fine motor skills, to get out in the fresh air and sunshine, and to learn about sowing, growing, harvesting, and of course eating the fruits of their labour.

But to grow heathy bountiful crops, it is important to get the basics right.

SOILS AREN’T SOILS

For a potted vegetable garden, horticulturalist Colin Johnson from Earth Life suggests a goodquality potting mix. If you are using a base potting mix, you can add compost to it, but there is a prerequisite. “It needs to be well aged,” he says. “Add around 30–40 per cent compost to the potting mix.” Also add a biologically enhanced mineral mix.

For a raised garden bed, you need a good soil blend. If you are planting into a garden bed, enhance the soil with organic matter, minerals and microbes two to three months before you plant. If you’re growing from seeds, Colin says a quality potting mix will also increase your chances of success. “A good biological mix inoculates the seed to help it sprout and establish,” he explains.

As a general rule, the larger the seed, the deeper it needs to be planted. Follow directions on the seed packet. “For small seeds like celery or salad vegetables, just scatter them over the top, give them a light rake over, and add some coir peat to hold in moisture around them,” advises Colin.

HELPING YOUR SEEDLINGS GROW

For a novice gardener, growing from seedlings is simpler than seeds as there is already a root system established. Colin says growing from seeds also has other challenges. “Birds will eat them, but then again rats can go for seedings, so it probably pays to put netting around them,” he says.

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