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New places, new spaces

February 1, 2010

And garden goodies!

We have two new flatmates who have recently moved in, and I’ve noticed there are more and more trailers unloading their loot. It’s moving time of year, and I just thought I’d post a wee guide about starting your own little patch. Having my own little plot (now plural) has been so rewarding. This post will hopefully address your doubts and encourage you to at least consider the idea!

Here are my top reasons for starting a garden at your new flat:

1. Free food, obviously! It is ridiculously cheaper to plant your own veges. Even if only one of your seeds actually gives you something, you’ll likely make back the money you spent on the whole packet.

fresh basil on the windowsill

2. Unrivalled freshness. Fresh herbs especially will save you heaps of money and they will taste so much better than store bought, plus they won’t die in the corner of the fridge. If you have too many you can easily dry your herbs too (looks like I’m going to have to do this for my oregano which has gone NUTS)

flat parsley in cream cheese pottles on the living room windowsill

3. A reason to get outside. Ok, so I’m not the most outdoorsy person in the world. I like sunny days, but usually this means observing from behind windows. Sad, huh? Well, gardening will make sure you get outside at least once a week and you can gradually build up a tan without boring yourself stupid.

4. Relaxation. If you’re a student, chances are you may need zen time every now and then, and there is always something you can do to give yourself a break if you have a garden (or even a pot garden if you have no plot).

5. Sustainability. Apart from the obvious (cutting down food miles), if you decide to try and feed yourself organically (which, depending on how you go about it, will be cheaper too), you’ll be using less fossil fuel based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. Especially if you plant a variety of plants that work well together to improve the soil.

I was also going to put excitement as a reason, but I realise that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Personally the germination of new seedlings gives me such a feeling of accomplishment – I make life happen, people.

So, are you convinced yet? No? Ok, what if I address the top excuses for not having a bit of a garden:

1. I’m too poor. Hello?! Did you not read reason to garden #1?! Ok, so you may think it’s expensive to set one up. So start small with a pot and some seeds. The cheapest pots are buckets you can get for about $1 each (or try trademe) and you can get seeds very cheaply from supermarkets or hardware stores. With buckets you just need to poke some holes in the bottom with a small sharp knife and put a plate or another bucket under it to catch water. It’s easiest to monitor how much you need to water the plants if you only fill the water catcher (also you won’t get overspill, unless you’re un-co). You don’t even need potting mix (shh, don’t tell anyone), just get some decent compost (my favourite is the stuff they sell at Bunnings Warehouse, which sells at about $5 a 40L bag). Be careful though, some composts are awful (Ahem, looking at you, “Just compost” – you suck, seed killer!).

2. I can’t be arsed. Start small with one pot (read above) and some seeds, and I guarantee the first sprouts you get will make you want to keep going!

3. I don’t have enough space in our garden. So start with pots. Read excuse #1.

4. I’m a plant killer. Ask your flatmates if they’d be keen to help out with watering and getting seeds and pots (see #1 for watering advice for pots). This will mean that your plants will have the love of multiple people! Again, start small, and share your bounty if others are helping you out.

5. I don’t know where to begin! Don’t worry, I will eeaase you into it. Gardening can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, and I mean that quite honestly. Watch out for my next post (in the next week or so) which will let you know how to set up a very simple pot garden (or just some pots) or a little patch. I ain’t no expert, but I have done a lot of harvesting! Also, I will use terms the average student will understand, or I will explain them every time, promise. If I don’t, you can stalk me down until I explain.

Ok, before I start with my next post, I highly recommend New Zealand Garnder magazine’s 2010 garden diary. It’ll help keep you on track and give you a paper record of your efforts. Mine was $14.90, which is pretty good as it’s packed with gorgeous garden eye candy too and many recipes. It even distinguishes between climates in the North and South Islands, which is very handy. If you follow me throughout the year though I’ll be dishing out highlighted advice from the diary. So the choice is yours. I just got mine at a supermarket, but any good bookstore will probably have them too.

Okay…now follow me!

PS. From now on if you want to hone into this garden series I’ve created a tag for it called “garden series.” So if you miss one you can easily find it and all the rest in date order. Happy thinking!

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