BLF seems to get a huge range of people interested in growing veges, herbs, etc. The great majority of people have a suburban context where the garden size is very manageable, and most things can be grown in garden beds, front, back, side and even verge gardens. We have some great examples among our members of just what can be achieved with a half decent soil and a bit of good old fashioned hard work. The garden visits are a great way to get about and see what can be achieved, and we can learn so much from these visits. They provide ideas, inspiration, knowledge as well as good company from like minded people of all ages and situations.
One of the first garden visits I went to was at Roman Spur's family's inner city flat / apartment. Here there was very little space for a garden. What space there was, was used to great effect, but the lack of space didn't stop them from expanding the garden to use concreted areas to grow as well. Roman devised the use of polystyrene containers to grow plants that don't need a huge depth of soil to flourish, but also cut the bottom out of a second and even third tier of container to allow for deeper rooted plants to be grown as well. He also used the idea of wicking beds to enable a more efficient use of water.
Now I am not suggesting that Roman "invented" these ideas, but he successfully adopted other people's ideas to be able to garden in his particular housing situation at that time.
Another garden visit I went to, (albeit with another gardening group), was at a rented property in Woodridge, where a refugee family were staying. I can't remember the nationality, (Burmese, I think) but that is immaterial. The family had moved around a few times since arriving in Brisbane, and the way of dealing with the constant upset of moving house and not being able to have a garden that they could take with them, as well as not having a lot of income meant that they needed to devise a way of growing what they could for their needs as well as not having too permanent a system of growing that they couldn't "uproot" and move on if needed.
The guy demonstrated his way of growing, which was to grow everything in sacks (free), The soil used was a lasagne of (as well as I can remember), home made compost (free), tree leaves from the area (free), some garden soil (free) but very limited or collected from the roadside, and collected manures (whatever he could get). These layers were around 75 - 100 mm thick and piled up until it nearly reached the top of the sack.
He grew a good range of produce and it all looked very healthy. They didn't waste anything, everything was recycled and I had to admire his ingenuity and resourcefulness. Obviously they could move the sacks and veges with them when/ if they needed to.
I have used the knowledge from my many garden visits and although I live on 5+ acres, my soil is poor and I grow some of my produce in sacks, polystyrene boxes, and PVC tubes.
In the sacks I lasagne garden soil (very sandy), horse manure, and home made or bought mushroom compost. The polystyrene boxes are also filled with a similar mix, some are wicking beds, some not, all are single storey.
The PVC tubes idea I got from Tino on a Gardening Australia episode (not a lot of originality from me). These I use to grow mainly carrots over winter, some leeks, turnips, beetroot, and parsnips. I use only a good quality potting mix in the tubes, although sometimes I add horse manure in the last third of the growing time to try to "fatten up" the crop. If I use manure early on it will create forking of the roots, so I leave it until late when the roots have been formed and maybe a bit of extra nutrition is needed.
As you can see I use old tyres to hold up the tubes, or I use a plastic drum (a better idea). Any watering from the top teaches out of the tyres, but the drums can retain any excess water and "wick it" back up to the plants.
I don't grow in these over summer as the temperatures are too hot. Anyone suggest what I could grow over summer?
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