Getting to produce some of your own food and seeing things grow right before your eyes is truly one of the greatest feelings ever, but it can sometimes be tough to do this on your own. Getting your housemates involved in a shared garden is a great activity and will be so rewarding for all involved. I feel like the luckiest person ever to live with three other people who love plants! If you’re unsure how to get started on your own share-house garden or compost, check out these basic tips and tricks that we’ve figured out (through trial and error) along the way.
A lot of people think they need to already have a garden to start composting but creating a healthy compost bin can take almost just as much time and dedication as planting a healthy garden. Starting a compost bin when you begin growing a few plants is a great idea. In the long run, you will have great nutrient-rich soil fertilizer to help boost your plants as they grow and in the short term, it’s a great way to reduce and make use of a lot of your food waste.
To start our compost, we purchased the cheapest composting bin from Bunnings (around $50) and placed a small container in our kitchen to collect all our food scraps. We decided to exclude meat from our compost so that we could keep our garden free from animal products.
To be honest, it took weeks to have enough scraps to see any sort of build-up in the bin and we decided it would be a good idea to start adding in our lawn clippings. This was the best idea ever! Within days we saw a massive increase in how quickly our scraps were breaking down.
Tip: Invest in a long-handled shovel (we used a long stick before we bought a shovel lol) that will allow you to easily mix the compost and try not to breathe in when you do so… compost is great for plants but not so great for lungs.
PLANTING FOR SUCCESS:
We’re lucky in Newcastle to have such a temperate climate. You can pretty much grow anything here! Our ground soil does tend to be pretty sandy though (shocker) so mixing it with some store bought potting mix ($6 for 25L @ Bunnings) and/or your new compost is a great idea.
Currently in our garden we’re growing a variety of herbs (parsley, basil and thyme to name a few) and these require very little work from us. We jokingly call them weeds because they grow so quickly. If you’re planting a garden for the first time, herbs can be a great place to start.
As your confidence grows (pun intended) you might like to try planting some carrots, lettuce, kale, peas, tomatoes, flowers or succulents – all things that have grown well in our garden so far. All plants have different sunlight and water requirements so make sure you read the information written on your seedlings or seed packets before purchasing and planting.
Tip: Choose plants with similar water and sunlight requirements for a more manageable garden!
REUSE & RECYCLE:
We prefer to spend as little money as possible on our garden. To do this we collect all our drink cans as well as plastic and glass bottles and take them to the Return and Earn facility near our house. This lets us receive a 10c refund per item we recycle. Depending on how much we use (and whether or not we have had a party) we can earn around $10 every month or so which can pay for some potting mix or some new seeds.
We also strip the labels off old food cans and use them as little pots for our seedlings! This is a great money saving option and is easy to do.
Currently we do most of our planting in a repurposed bathtub. My housemates were lucky enough to find the old tub by the side of the road when they first moved in and it has become a perfect sized home for all of our plants. Recently, we’ve wanted to expand our home veggie patch and together built a good-sized wooden planter out of some old bed slats. All that was needed was a hammer and some nails.
Tip: Stab a few holes through the bottom of the tin cans to make sure that water can drain out.
Tip 2: Paint the tins with some non-toxic paint to make them even cuter and colourful.
At most, your garden will grow you some delicious herbs, veggies and flowers, and at the very least it will get you out into the fresh air. Getting to grow plants with my housemates is a great bonding activity and having to work together to recycle and compost is so wholesome and honestly, it’s pretty fun. What are you waiting for? Give it a go!
Feature Image and inset images via: Unsplash