In the Garden with The Little Veggie Patch Co. – The Apple Crate Garden

by Jenny Butler
Monday 27th February 2012

This week we welcome Mat and Fabian of The Little Veggie Patch Company to the Guest Blog! These Melbourne lads have recently released their first book which is fantastic – jam packed full of the fundamentals of caring for your veggie patch, an A-Z of edible vegetables and step-by-step instructions on weekend activities like making a scarecrow! Mat and Fabian will be sharing some of the basics this week, starting today with how to make a no-dig apple crate garden! – Jenny x

Aaaah, Monday morning and time to reincarnate an apple crate into a veggie patch. For us, this is the perfect way to ease into a week.  First thing: make a lovely cup of tea. Next, collect the materials. All the materials should be available from your local nursery – you are after compost, pelletized chook poo (peeeoooooo!), worm castings and straw. When I think about it there is this fantastic nursery right in the heart of St.Kilda East that has all that stuff. Time to get a little dirty. You love it.

How to make a no-dig Apple Crate Garden


  • 1 recycled apple crate (1.2m (L) x 1.2m (W) x 0.6m (D))
  • wheelbarrow
  • shovel
  • 1 bale plain straw
  • 1 small bag of slow-release organic fertiliser (pellet form)
  • ½ m3 mushroom compost
  • 1 bale lucerne hay or pea straw
  • 15-litre bag worm castings

While a no-dig garden could be dubbed the lazy person’s garden, it is also the smart person’s garden. A no-dig garden is created by layering organic matter such as straw, compost, worm castings and manure as a substitute for soil. As the contents decompose, they feed your plants with an array of necessary nutrients. The organic layers break down to feed your vegetables, the level of your no-dig garden will be reduced, so the only maintenance required is a top-up of ingredients (for example, some compost) when necessary — usually as the season’s crops finish.

1. Lay 20 cm of straw (one bale) on the base of the crate. This will act as a fi ller and fi lter for drainage rather than as a source of nutrients for your vegetables.

2. Incorporate a few handfuls of slow-release organic fertiliser. This is the stinky stuff, but if you really set your mind to it, it could be mistaken for Belgian dark chocolate.

3. Add 10 cm of mushroom compost (2 wheelbarrows’ worth), spread and compact down.

4. Add 10 cm of either lucerne hay or pea straw, and then incorporate a few handfuls of slow-release organic fertiliser.

5. Add 20 cm of mushroom compost (4 wheelbarrows), spread and compact down.

6. Incorporate a handful of a slow-release organic fertiliser to the surface.

7. Add the bag of worm castings as a conduit for the nutrients to your plants.

8. Because this is a fertile and quite raw mix, it is best to allow the contents to settle in for a few days before deciding what seeds and seedlings to plant.

Mat and Fabian

by Jenny Butler
Monday 27th February 2012


  • Margie 5 years ago

    Such a great idea. I have a small courtyard and this would be perfect for me. One of my neighbours has 2 in their front yard so have been inspired.

  • Nikki Shioard 5 years ago

    love this easy way to garden…. i collected 2 hardwood crates from a local fruit seller last year and these raised garden beds grow amazing produce. better than our other 4 veggies beds, as we get such heavy rain in the subtropics of northern nsw. i think this company rocks with its simplicity, ideas and cool crates for the garden.

  • Alison 5 years ago

    I am excited to see the possibilities for home grown vegies in small back yards. I will be checking back every day this week.


  • Bec 5 years ago

    Oh my god, most excited about this week’s guest posts!!

  • Joanne 5 years ago

    These guys are amazing. Saw their stuff at the Garden Show and was immediately blown away. They are worth their weight in … um… vegies, and I hope everyone catches the growing stuff addiction like we have!

  • Beth 5 years ago

    squeee cute dog! this is such a great idea – new aim is to have my next apartment have a balcony so i can do this!

  • Kate 5 years ago

    Love these guys. Their nursery is near my house, so I get to visit all the time!

  • Lou 5 years ago

    Well done guys – nothing better than to pick your produce from your own backyard.

  • Kelly 5 years ago

    I have a tiny courtyard and our potted herbs are struggling, I think I will be buying this book (unless I win it!!!)

  • Tracey 5 years ago

    keen to try again at making a veggie garden at home. I had to fight off our neighbourhood possums last time… Love the idea of using an apple crate, looking forward to reading your other ideas this week!

  • Kristine Lubinski 5 years ago

    What a gorgeous looking book. This is perfect right-time, right-now inspiration for me, just what I need to be doing with my little one. x

  • Sophie 5 years ago

    I’ve just had a relatively successful first attempt at a veggie patch – tomatoes over summer. Really though I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing, especially with my very sandy soil. Will have to keep an eye on this guest blog for tips!

  • Karena 5 years ago

    Great inspiration to get the garden going! Just planted my Autumn seeds my first two man made crates and now onto the third! Going to enjoy this post the most this week xxx

  • Jane 5 years ago

    Vegetable gardening is easy when you know how, but can be disappointing when you don’t. Love how these guys are making it easy for everyone! There needs to be more of this…

  • Jo 5 years ago

    Thank you for the inspiration! Can’t wait to get my veggie patch going this season!

  • Annette 5 years ago

    Love this – I have started my own little vegie garden this summer – no vegetables yet but I am getting good at hunting caterpillars!

  • sally 5 years ago

    I’m keen to read this book as I find a lot of websites and blogs don’t really tell me what to plant at each time of the year. I also get very confused about sun / no sun / water / less water, what to do with dried up tomato plants right now etc!!

  • Christina 5 years ago

    Amazing and so clever! We’ve been growing courgettes and tomatoes over the summer but would love to have more ideas to what we can grow when autumn is approaching and how best to utilise our tiny courtyard!!

  • Carol 5 years ago

    I would love this book. Thanks for such a great guest blog idea.

  • Penelope 5 years ago

    I should give this book to my boyfriend – he likes to think he has a green thumb, and is a self sustaining man with a veggie patch (and I want to encourage this behaviour!), but really all we’ve had so far is 2 sad tomatoes and a few beans. This book looks cool enough that he would actually take some advice from it!

  • Yes! Courtyard gardening at its best – looking good boys! My tomato plans would kill for that kind of space. My poor darlings are growing on top of eachother in small pots :(

  • Maraya Rodostianos 5 years ago

    Hey thanks for the opportunity to share in this comp. We’re keen gardeners and this book would be quite an inspiration to my partner who is thinking about starting up his own little gardening thing. Love an earthy man huh!

  • Susanna 5 years ago

    My husband would love this book and I’m sure he’ll make it into a fun project to do with our daughter.

  • bj 5 years ago

    Maybe I can finally get a green thumb!

  • Jen 5 years ago

    What a pair of clever boys! Encouraging people to grow their own food, regardless of space, is a wonderful idea. There’s nothing like homegrown!

  • Amy o 5 years ago

    I got this book for Christmas and let me tell you it is THE BEST!!!! As someone who was so keen to start gardening but didn’t know where to start this was a godsend. It is so easy to read and to follow not to mention the book is stunningly designed as well.

    Great job boys!!

    ciao, Amy

  • Kate 5 years ago

    While I might have some aphids and things fall over in my garden I’m always so inspired to try again and try different things. New mission – Find crates to make raised garden beds.
    Looking forward to a whole week of gardening posts from these guys!

  • Stacey 5 years ago

    Great ideas, inspiring me to get a vegi patch happening on my rooftop! Now to find a wooden fruit crate ;)

  • Hannah 5 years ago

    Who doesn’t love getting a bit dirty in the garden! Thanks for the inspiration to re-start my veggies patch…

  • Ewa 5 years ago

    Love these guys, they are always so welcoming and giving of time and info each time I go to the shop. Love that you can only buy seasonal plants. Great work guys !!!

  • Georgina Campbell 5 years ago

    It looks like you’ve lined the crate with plastic too, aroound the walls only I guess. Great recycling of those good looking wooden crates. How much does it cost all up?

  • jade miles 5 years ago

    thought big block meant the chance to have big veggie patch…..hopelessly pathetic soil means no veggie patch at all…ALAS – here is the solution. YAYYYYYYY, excited again!!!!

  • Marcello Ricciuti 5 years ago

    Have purchased a few sachets in the past from this Company
    Love the product

  • Melinda 5 years ago

    My sons are going to love this and I have the perfect spot for it too. Crate idea is great, love anything that’s ‘a little bit different’

  • Jodie 5 years ago

    Yeah!! Perfect timing as my kids and I get motivated to start our own garden.
    We will definately need a scarecrow : )

  • Mel 5 years ago

    I would love a copy to help me establish a veggie patch with my kids! We only have a small balcony so need some great ideas.

  • Dee 5 years ago

    Nice work guys :) I’ve been wanting to start my own little veggie patch at home for ages now, but had no idea where to begin! Feeling super inspired now :)

  • Rebecca 5 years ago

    Yay for eating home grown veggies!!

  • Judy 5 years ago

    Thanks guys for that little guest blog. I really need a few of those so I don’t have to buy so many veges for my new found love of green smoothies. Love the no dig instructions. What a gem of a business. Good luck in your venture.

  • Sarah 5 years ago

    I love this so much! Brilliant tutorial! My lil’ balcony garden needs all the help it can get!

  • Matilda 5 years ago

    A veggie patch is my goal for2012. Love the look of the crates!

  • Elaine Pendlebury 5 years ago

    Wow I can’t wait to make another veggie patch thanks for the inspiration!

  • Em 5 years ago

    This is brilliant and very timely! I’m making a raised vegie garden this weekend. Now I know what to prep it with – NOT potting mix :)

  • Emma 5 years ago

    Love The Little Veggie Patch Co.! Nothing beats home grown veggies, and these boys show how easy it is to do. Great Idea guys – I hope I am lucky enough to get one of your books so I can master this at home :)

  • Brendan 5 years ago

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! So inspiring… I love this idea… I wish I was able to fit a crate like that onto my city balcony… it would be so much fun to have fresh veggies and herbs for home… its just not practical… I wonder if someone out there would let me put one in their courtyard for me to maintain for kicks and giggles… and veggies too for that matter… Love it!
    Although, guys if you have any fun and crazy cool suggestions on how to balcony a garden… (inner Melbourne city) that doesn’t look tacky, or messy and is contained and easy to move and tasty… then I am all eye’s (ears won’t work in print) I was starting to look recently into Vertical gardening, I can see practicality for this for herbs and alike, but not so much fruiting plants or vegetables… What else could be out there? anyway… now I am rambling and dreaming… and thinking outside of my own box. better pretend to get back to work. I Look forward to this weeks blog.

    So inspired and Crate! (pun intended) ;)

  • Lucie 5 years ago

    I need all the help I can get, and this seems like a perfect book full of really simple instructions and tips! Perhaps I could start of some Autumn veggies?

  • Karryn 5 years ago

    Q. Is it crazy to start one of these boxes of garden goodness as we approach Autumn (in Tassie?) …..

  • Danica Harris 5 years ago

    Love this. I’ve had some success with herbs over the summer, but am very new to this, so looking forward to more tips and tricks from Mat and Fabian.

  • martina 5 years ago

    Love the idea! I’m waiting for more guest posts soon!

  • Rebecca 5 years ago

    I have been looking for a book like this!! We are tried, unsuccessfully, to create a veggie garden in our little courtyard.

  • Lucy 5 years ago

    I love that you start your veggie patch process with a cup of tea – that’s my kind of gardening!

    Can’t wait to read more posts from you guys this week :)

  • amydoll 5 years ago

    Loving those wooden planter boxes!!

  • carla 5 years ago

    Would just love this book – I need all the help i can get as my veggie patch is suffering! Thanks!

  • Kate 5 years ago

    Just waiting for the right season to start so any help and handy tips would be fantastic. Great guests!

  • Nise 5 years ago

    So inspiring. I want to leave my desk and job to go play in the dirt and make one of these! Maybe this weekend. Thanks so much for another awesome guest blog!!

  • E-Gene 5 years ago

    Very inspiring! Going to go do one now.

  • Clare 5 years ago

    Nice! I just removed our straggly tomatoes from our raised bed this weekend (okay, except one which was trimmed) and am trying to decide what should go in next…

  • Lu Horn 5 years ago

    Aspiring gardener here, sometimes successful, sometimes not so, definitely a learning curve, and very rewarding. What a sense of achievement when your first tomato is ready to eat, unfortunately this year first and only. Ha! Need all the help I can get, the book sounds great!

  • Ariana 5 years ago

    Can’t wait to turn the teensy patch of dirt in my courtyard into a little veggie paradise!

  • Kristy 5 years ago

    i love this! and I love their heirloom veggie seeds. yum yum yum.

  • Amber La Bozzetta 5 years ago

    A wonderful idea for the whole family to be involved in!! Exciting

  • Yen 5 years ago

    Yeay! Great to see things written about gardens on TDF. And, always great to see anything about gardens for little spaces. Hope to see these guys at MIFGS this year.

  • Sally 5 years ago

    Fantastic, I look forward to reading their tips and tricks.

  • penelope hosking 5 years ago

    Nice to see the boys enjoying and promoting healthy living and eating. Looks like they are having a great time doing it. This would be a good read, and great gift idea to pass on tips.

  • Alice 5 years ago

    I just went to see these guys yesterday and I have been eying off their book. Just in the process of converting our front garden into a no-dig edible garden…

  • Hannah 5 years ago

    wow really looking forward to reading the guest blog this week, I need all the help I can get in the garden

  • Miss Scruffy 5 years ago

    Love it!

  • Rebecca 5 years ago

    Amazing and oh so simple – on my DIY list!

  • Simone 5 years ago

    Great timing! I’ve just completed my own “no dig” garden at home and it’s now ready for planting. I look forward to the next few blog instalments, and then it’s planting on the weekend. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. From one garden lover to another. Simone.

  • Bea 5 years ago

    I love these guys! I wish they came with the crate so I could successfully grow something!

  • Natalie 5 years ago

    I had a no dig garden in our old house a few years ago- loved it! Reading this guest blog has inspired me to create another one!

  • Kate 5 years ago

    Yay for pre-gardening cups of tea! Brilliant book! Well done

  • Angela 5 years ago

    That’s so weird – i just looked up my local library today to see if they had The Little Vegie Patch Co. book. Sorry…been low on funds!

  • Bec 5 years ago

    Starting a small container vegie garden has been on my To Do list for a while. This has just inspired me to get moving on it! Looking forward to their blog this week. Great works guys!

  • Cara @ Gourmet Chick 5 years ago

    Would love a copy of this book. A great book for libraries to stock as well as growing your own is certainly something everyone can aim to try and do.

  • Erin 5 years ago

    Great, cute looking idea!

  • Agata 5 years ago

    This is just what I’m after! Just moved house and the soil is in need of serious attention, even my succulents don’t seem to be growing let alone vegies. This book could be my saviour!

  • Fiona 5 years ago

    Yes of course I’d love a copy of the book : ) who wouldn’t : )

    Nice work guys

  • Alicia 5 years ago

    awesome. I’ve nearly picked up this in the book store a few times – I need some help with my little vegie patch!

  • Donna Quirke 5 years ago

    OMG – so excited about this week’s blog – I keep looking at this book in the shops and thinking – wish I had the money to buy a: the book and b: the goodies to fix up my garden – as a fairly new houseowner – I am on a mission to have a sustainable garden by the end of this year and I’m sure this book can help

  • cmac 5 years ago

    I have our old veggie garden covered in pea straw – waiting for some attention. Love the idea of the raised garden beds.

  • Bec 5 years ago

    What happy gardeners :)
    Nothing like getting your hands dirty and being rewarded with lots of delicious goodies!

  • Donna Livermore 5 years ago

    Love that it’s now common place to see veggie boxes in people’s front yards & that growing your own food has become trendy. Here’s to a healthier planet (& people)!

  • Helen 5 years ago

    Such a wonderful book, full of nourishing, healthy, sustainable, economical resources and creativity. I would really cherish having this book!

  • Chelsea Pinner 5 years ago

    Matt and Fabian are such an inspiration.

    Australia’s NEW trend (towards very OLD practices) is such an exciting throw back of growing real, seasonal produce in our backyards.

    They should be proud that they’ve contributed to making the world a better place, through a happier environment, happier vegetables and happier people.

    Their joi de vivre is contagious, and if we all lived like modern day Italians, I think we’d be a lot more content and happy with our lives.

    They’re inspired me to get digging and start saving my toilet rolls!

    Cheers guys

  • Iain Pringle 5 years ago

    I want and need this book, I have all the good intentions but none of the know how. Please can I win this one!

  • Cass 5 years ago

    Hi, as someone who recieved a great raised garden bed for xmas and finally has soil – but hasnt planted a thing – I need more inspiration. This book looks awesome and I would be very happy to win it please!

  • Alicia 5 years ago

    We’re putting in some raised beds to fit in more veggies at the moment. I love the look of these crates! The real food revolution is here!

  • Andrew 5 years ago

    I’m just getting started with my veggie patch, this book looks like it would be a great help!

  • Susan 5 years ago

    This year we have grown 3 kilos of cherry tomatoes in the narrow beds that wrap around our inner-city car park. I’m hooked. I’d love new ideas and produce at my door. Help!

  • TJ 5 years ago

    Love gardening in small space and really inspired by these boys!

  • Lauren 5 years ago

    Love what these guys do! Their book was on my christmas wish list this year to help me start out my own little veggie patch. I didn’t get it, which might explain my veggie patch failures! But it’s so much fun figuring it all out on the way.

  • Clare 5 years ago

    I would love a copy of this book to give to my husband. He loves growing veggies and I know would really enjoy this book!!!

  • Gabriela 5 years ago

    I first heard/saw these guys at an eco-market in the Docklands ages ago and thought they were cool then… but now! Wow! I think they are super cool and the best guest bloggers in TDF ever! Thanks, Lucy & Jenny! And looking forward to readin you, Mat & Fabian!

  • Karen 5 years ago

    So excited..with crate gardening….we have just completed a Reno…..builders….do not understand…the word garden…we look out n to a dirt patch…would love to have copy of your book for support and inspiration

  • Sarah 5 years ago

    I love crate gardening! I just wish I could grow more than cucumbers!

  • Lucy 5 years ago

    We have your ‘veggie patch co’ crate and would love the book to match please … :)

  • Lizzie 5 years ago

    Love this idea . Anything I ever grow in the veggie patch gets eaten by caterpillars ! Would love to win this book . Thanks.

  • Maria T 5 years ago

    I am fortunate to live just around the corner from the Little Vegie Patch AND have my own box. The guys are sooo helpful. Would love their book too!

  • kirsten 5 years ago

    I love the veggie patch co. I just received the seeds I ordered from them in the mail and am ready to plant tomorrow, the book would be a great help

  • Alex 5 years ago

    This would be a great housewarming gift for my friend who now has her very own little garden. I can’t wait to have my own one day.

  • Jesse G 5 years ago

    Love this information – so fun and helpful!

  • Annie Yu 5 years ago

    WOW …love to see them here!! I love their work from the very beginning when I saw their book in the shop last year!! Wanna to get one copy for my best friend in the US. Keep on going, bring the garden on!

  • Siska 5 years ago

    oh, love this!

  • Renee 5 years ago

    Well jam me a tomato in my carpark patch…

  • onefinelady 5 years ago

    I live in the same postcode as this sweet business… it’s always a treat to peer in and see more greenery on the loose.

  • Emma 5 years ago

    Please bring your apple crate product to Brisbane ……

  • suse 5 years ago

    love this book, it is very inspiring to get out there and grow some food, nothing tastes better than home grown. and it looks super in the crates.

  • Sarah 5 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant! I am envious of your abilities to turn your passions in to such a great venture.

  • jo 5 years ago

    i soooo want to win this book. crossing everything!

  • Holly 5 years ago

    oooh, how great! thanks for sharing :)

  • victoria McKenzie 5 years ago

    love having you guys in my hood. The greens I got from you are thriving.

  • elissa c 5 years ago

    One of my aims for this year is to start a balcony garden. My initial effort has died…I need to use some of this advice.

  • Camila F 5 years ago

    Have been keen on starting a vegie patch at home for a while – this book sounds amazing, would love to win it! :)

  • Roos Verstraeten 5 years ago

    Peas, baby carrots, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and eggplants = CHECK!
    Sun? = Transport please! Or switch our continents, jeej :) !!!

  • Kate S 5 years ago

    I have just moved from Adelaide (big block, big veggie patch!) to Melbourne (small block NO veggie patch!!) so I would LOVE a copy of your new book to help me start growing herbs and veggies again in a small space with my two little gardener boys. We’ve just set up our worm farm again, so we are ready to go!!

  • Angie 5 years ago

    Can’t wait to try this! The book would be a great resource! :)

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