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

Materials:

  • 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