Paul Hill Realty - Healthy Veggie Garden

Guide to a Healthy Veggie Garden

So much has happened in the last eighteen months, and many things may never return to how they were before COVID came into our world. One of the positive outcomes from this crisis is an increased interest in people growing their own veggies and herbs.

Food security has been talked about before in the media. However, for many people, it didn’t become real till the start of the pandemic. This is when as a result, veggie seeds and seedlings became as scarce as toilet paper.

If you have not yet started your own productive patch yet, or if you want to expand what you are doing, or get better at it, now is a great time to get started.

Once you have some success, it motivates you to keep going and try more, however, if you don’t get the basics right, it may not be rewarding.

The information in this article is supplied by from the Queensland Times. Who goes back to the basics of how to set up a veggie patch from scratch.

Get the Site for Your Veggie Garden Right

Choose a position in your yard that receives full sun if possible.

For summer crops, especially in hot dry climates, a position that gets some afternoon shade may be preferable. Alternatively, be prepared to cover the beds with a 50 per cent pale shade cloth when the temperature soars above 35 degrees.

The site of your veggie patch must also be free from the root competition of trees and large shrubs unless you are using large pots or a raised veggie bed where you can add a root barrier underneath before you add the soil, or created a closed system such as a wicking bed.

For those that live in a sunny climate like Queensland, be aware of radiant heat off brick walls, paved or concrete driveways and paths, and metal fences.

Consider the Available Space You Have

If it is limited, be sure to choose good value plants that will produce well and be worth growing in the space you have.

A garden bed around 3m by 1m wide will allow you to grow a reasonable selection of varieties, however, even a bed just 1m x 1m will allow you to grow a highly productive salad, stir-fry or herb plot.

Great Soil Preparation is Essential

If working a vegetable garden in the ground, dig over the soil to fork’s depth, adding plenty of organic matter in the form of compost and aged animal manures.

If the soil is heavy and contains clay, add plenty of gypsum. While if your soil is sandy, add plenty of organic matter and treat it with a clay slurry, made from dissolving clay in a watering can or bucket of water and watering it over the area. Fork through some slow-release pelletised organic fertiliser.

If you are concerned about possible contaminants in the soil, send a soil sample off for free soil metal and metalloid contaminants testing via Macquarie University.

Consider creating a raised vegetable bed if your soil is unsuitable, the ideal site is covered with a hard surface, or you want to save on bending. This can be done by using hardwood sleepers or corrugated iron – be aware that these can get quite hot in the sun.

Another option is to use wicking beds, likened to a giant self-watering pot for veggies.

The main difference between in-ground veggie beds and wicking beds is that in-ground veggie beds need watering daily (or perhaps twice a day of the heat is extreme), while wicking beds can get by with being topped up once a week (or twice in extreme heat).

When purchasing soil to fill any raised veggie beds always choose a good quality blend suitable for vegetable growing.

Improving your soil will become an ongoing process and each time you replant a garden bed, add more organic matter in the form of compost or aged manure, and more organic-based fertiliser pellets.

Veggie Patch Maintenance is Vital

Keep garden beds free of weeds as they compete with your vegies for space, light and nutrients. Feed your plants regularly to keep them strong, healthy and productive. Watch out for snails and other insect pests and always be sure to use organic pest control.

Getting the Most Out of Your Home Vegies

These five veggies will deliver bang for your buck which can be planted now.


Loose-leaf varieties with attractive coloured leaves and leaf shapes can be grown all year round. Fresher than anything you will get in a bag from the supermarket, you can pick exactly the quantity you want, so there is no wastage, and you can pick a few leaves at a time from each plant.

Grown from seed you can start picking leaves in four to six weeks, and sooner if you start off with punnets.

If possible, pick your salad leaves in the morning when the sugar content is up to 50% higher and before the white sap rises in the leaf stem which can give lettuce the bitter taste. Do not allow the plants to stress for water or they will run to seed and become bitter.


Another salad green often purchased in bags leading to wastage, yet its so easy to grow and harvest the quantity you need, when you need it. The leaves have a delicious peppery taste and even the pretty yellow or white flowers are edible and have a sweet peppery taste.

Asian Greens

If you love using bok choy or pak choy in your cooking, you won’t believe how amazing the homegrown produce is. It’s crunchy and tasty, and if you happen to pick more than you use in a meal, it lasts in the fridge for a week or two.

There are many varieties of Asian greens to choose from outside of the ordinary including red pak choy, tatsoi, tokyo bekana and yukina.

Individual leaves can be harvested when young or pick the whole head as required as they grow. They are best covered with insect exclusion netting to keep the caterpillars off in the warmer weather.

Spring Onions

These are such versatile vegetable that can be used to give an onion flavour to anything you cook. They are easy to grow, take up very little space in the garden, and can be harvested when pencil-thin and slender, or left to thicken and become fat.

Even if they start to bloom on you, the flowers are still edible and have a great sweet onion flavour. It is possible to keep your house stocked with fresh spring onions all year round just by buying a punnet every few months or so, as required.

Sprouting Broccoli

While many of the large-headed varieties take a long time to mature, sprouting varieties will produce many small broccolini-like heads sooner and continue to crop for a longer period.

They are available as green or purple broccoli and can be used in cooking or even raw in salads. Even once the small heads start to flower, they can still be eaten.

They are planted in autumn for a winter-spring crop but are also loved by caterpillars. So if you are not vigilant on hand removal, try using insect exclusion netting during the warmer weather of autumn when they are first planted and spring.

Grow Your Own Herbs

Growing your own herbs saves all the wastage that comes when you buy bunches or packets. Also, the flavour is far superior to anything you can ever buy. Work out what you use in your cooking and then plant accordingly.

Many herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, marjoram, and oregano are perennials and live for years. While others like parsley and coriander are annuals. However if they are happy, they will self-seed and keep you in constant supply.

Other herbs like sweet basil are seasonal and best grown in the warmer weather. Herbs can be grown in the ground or in pots, and you might like to consider making a mixed herb pot.

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Information Supplied by:
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