5 Easy Steps To Creating Your Own Veggie Garden

One of my best memories from my childhood was watching my mum planting vegetables in our farmland as I talked to unknown insects around me, the earthworms she dug out and several ducks we raised. When I was ten we moved into an apartment in the city and rarely had the time or space to grow any veggies again. I guess planting veggies by myself has become part of my dream life since then.

Amazingly, the pleasant climate here on the Gold Coast is so suitable for growing vegetables during all seasons and I haven’t been able to stop thinking of planting veggies and flowers since I landed here. Fortunately for me, my lovely Aussie homestay couple Karen and David said yes to my request and my dream life has come true!

Starting a veggie garden is one of the most rewarding things I have done, and it’s a great way to relieve the pressures of an intense learning life. Here are some experiences and tips I’d like to share with you:

1. Consider what to plant

What do you want to plant - veggies, herbs, flowers, or a combination? It doesn’t have to be very complicated. Select something you like, and more importantly, they should be easily grown. Veggies such as lettuces, tomatoes, chilis and green beans; and herbs like chives, basil and coriander are all good options for beginners. For flowers, sunflowers are always my first and favourite ones; while I can also recommend marigolds, calendula and impatiens. Succulent plants have become popular in recent years. They are also super cute and easily grown as well.

Sunflowers - so beautiful.

2. Pick the spot to plant

Sunshine is crucial for almost all veggies and most flowers. Six to eight hours of full sunlight each day is usually required. Really, you never have to worry about a lack of sunlight since we have ample sunshine all year around on the Gold Coast, however, direct sunlight all day for some plants could be a problem in the summertime. For instance, some plants such as lettuces and cucumbers are not so drought-resistant compared to sunflowers, therefore, they need to be planted in a spot that receives partial shade instead of full sun.

Capsicum - yum!

3. Prepare the soil

Tilling and digging are useful methods to prepare garden beds, but for most of us using pots and all-purpose garden soil like potting mix is much more convenient and practical.

If there’s no right place for your garden bed, use an egg box. Yes, an egg box is adequate to start gardening! Buy a bag of all-purpose garden soil in Bunnings, spread a layer of soil in the egg box, sow one or two seeds in each hole, then cover the seeds with soil and sprinkle the soil with water until it can permeate through the bottom of the box.

Bean shoots sprout from an egg carton

4. Try basic hydroponics

You don’t have to buy seeds or baby plants all the time. Many veggies can be replanted using their roots. Cut regrowing veggies like celery, lettuces, carrots and leeks, and leave about 5-8 cm from the base. Then place the base in a bowl or a glass bottle of water, leave it in a spot where it can obtain adequate sunlight. You’ll be surprised at what you can get over the next several weeks.

Success! Enjoy the fruits of your own garden.

5. Transplant veggie babies and take care of them

When your veggie babies (seedlings) in egg boxes or bowls of water are strong enough, transplant them to larger pots or garden beds with richer soil. Consider the space among them, by trying to plant the smaller veggies between two taller plants or climbing plants such as beans to make the most of your space.

Water them at the proper time, remove weeds regularly, and keep an eye on aggressive bugs. Above all, take care of them with your love and you will soon have a harvest!

*Weiwei Zhang is studying her Masters in Construction Practice and Project Management at Bond University.