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Jun 20 09 8:27 AM

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Considering the amount of money we all spend on fresh fruit and veggies, growing some of your own stuff in the backyard is a great idea . I started my garden about this time last year to help feed all my hungry mouths. I had no idea what I was doing initially but, like guinea pigs, it's kind of addictive and makes you want to learn more. It's not as hard as you think, as long as you get a few basic things right. So here's my very rough beginner's guide to guinea pig gardens - I'm no expert and have limited experience, but it works for me!!

LOCATION: Most fruit and veg plants need full sun to grow well. This means putting them in a place that will get at least a few hours of direct sunlight a day. I grow mine in big pots so I can move them throughout the year to the sunny spots in my yard. My pots are about 30cm across and about 30cm deep, and I can grow two to four seedlings up to mature size in each.

Your call when I whistle, your nose at the bars when I walk past - makes it all worthwhile
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~Caitlin~

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#1 [url]

Jun 20 09 8:28 AM

SOIL: It's important to have good quality soil as this is what's feeding the plants. If you're growing in pots, get a good quality organic potting mix, ideally one that's advertised for growing veggies. If you're growing in garden beds, aerate the soil and mix in some manure or compost to make the soil really rich in nutrients. Make sure it's well drained, I put gravel at the bottom of my pots to make sure the roots don't get waterlogged.

WATER: They don't need as much water as you think - if you put your finger in the soil and it's cold and sticks to your fingers, then it's usually wet enough for them. Watering a few times a week is mostly enough, but it might need to increase to daily in the heat of summer (or the dry season up in Qld). I have a bucket in my shower that I use to collect water while it's warming up, and also to catch some of the shower water. I can collect up to 3 buckets a day with 4 people in the house, which is enough for all my veggies. I just use a watering can to water them, and as it's reclaimed water it's not governed by water restrictions. I use some maxicrop seaweed solution once a month, especially on young plants and newly sown seeds, to encourage growth.

Your call when I whistle, your nose at the bars when I walk past - makes it all worthwhile
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~Caitlin~

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#2 [url]

Jun 20 09 8:28 AM

PLANT CHOICE: This is probably the most important part. Make sure you're growing things that your pigs will eat! Also make sure you grow the right plants for the season you're in. Most plants like to grow in spring. I usually go by the instructions on the back of seed packets, they're very easy to follow. Initially I started off with seedlings, which are great because you just separate them, put them in the ground and off they go! Once you're used to seedlings you can start growing your own from seeds, you can start to grow your own seeds - I usually grow them in egg cartons with a hole in the bottom for drainage, they take about 6-8 weeks from planting to be big enough to go out in the garden. Keep in mind too, the habits of the plants - some need lots of depth for their roots (eg. celery, silverbeet) while others have shallow roots (eg. most herbs) so you can match the plants to how you're growing them.

PROTECT YOUR PLANTS: Lots of things like to eat your plants. This will depend on your area. Mine get eaten by snails, caterpillars, aphids and rabbits! I protect them by growing them up on my balcony in their pots, and by having cut out white plastic butterflies on stick the other butterflies are scared away from laying their eggs. Spraying them once a week with water mixed with dishwashing liquid helps keep the aphids off, and I also encourage my local ladybugs to help me out. If you plant out some plants you will soon discover what local creatures want to take part, and then you can focus specifically on preventing them from getting access.

Your call when I whistle, your nose at the bars when I walk past - makes it all worthwhile
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~Caitlin~

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#3 [url]

Jun 20 09 8:28 AM

WHERE TO START: There are some great plants that I have found really easy to grow, some of my suggestions are:
Parsley, Oregano, Silverbeet, Spinach, Carrots, or Celery.
Note that in pots they probably won't get as big as in the supermarket, but the pigs will like them just the same!! Most of the plants I've tried take about a month to get so seedling size once they're planted as seeds, and another two months or so to reach maximum size ready for harvest. It varies by how much sunlight and water they get.

That's all I can think of for now, if I come up with anything else I'll update this! Your input and experiences are most welcome!!

Your call when I whistle, your nose at the bars when I walk past - makes it all worthwhile
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~Caitlin~

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pigsforlife

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#4 [url]

Jun 20 09 9:31 AM

Billy'sMum wrote:

PROTECT YOUR PLANTS: Lots of things like to eat your plants.


lol, like my dog!? I tried to grow bok choy once, they were going really well and then Tasha decided it would be fun to pull up every single one of them. Not happy Jan!!

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Buttercup - March 2007 - August 2008
Toffee - June 2007 - December 2010

~Ash~

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#7 [url]

Aug 31 09 7:02 AM

i am growing parsley, both the curly and the flat. they are out of control! my piggy has gotten bored eating them.

I also have oregano, coriander, thyme, zucchini growing.

just sow my mint seeds and looking to grow some silverbeet plus for myself some sugar snap peas and borlotti.

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#10 [url]

Aug 31 09 9:40 AM

I've heard the love the flowers of them but Im not sure of the leaves?!?!?!? Have ot ask some one who has had a vege garden or still does lol.

I have a pot of parsely but it's not triving too well ever time theres a good peice I grab it for the pigs. And then I wonder why I have none lol

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#11 [url]

Aug 31 09 11:39 AM

Currently I have a raised garden planted, Tomatoes, Broccoli, brussel sprouts, Corn and a herb garden too, parsley, strawberries, chives, mint, oregano.... most of this is for the piggies, but some is for us humans aswell. The kids love to help and it is coming along nicely.

I also have a good compost coming along, it is where I put most of my piggy waste, it is full at the moment so will have to get a second one to rotate!

Will keep you posted how it goes.

Mel

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#13 [url]

Aug 31 09 11:42 PM

regarding the piggy waste thingy.

How much do you put into the compost? I dont have a compost bin. my "compost" are just those flowers, leaves that has fallen down from the tree then i just sweep them into my garden bed. i am squeamish about worms and insects. I have a natural fear for them. But, I was thinking all those hay and wasted feed can be recycled somewhere?

thanks for the zucchini leaves head up. should my sugar snap peas be sprouting, what about the pea shoots? they are edible for humans, you think the piggies eat them too? I have never fed my pig peas and beans yet. Just stick to safe stuff like lettuces (no iceberg), carrot, parsley and celery. she is very choosy, I ended up as the garbage bin whenever i bought some form of vegs and she does not eat it and I have to or it will all goes to waste!

I am not a good gardener, just beginner. What else do you girls reckon I should start planting soon? I am eyeing the tomatoes. but i dont have a hothouse thing going on? and I dont have a proper garden, just corners and stuff, most of them are lined and even the corners are filled with trees and bushes. I like to grow edible plants.

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#14 [url]

Sep 1 09 12:16 AM

Regarding the compost, I put all the piggy waste except the newspaper in the compost, I find the newspaper takes a little longer to break down possibly cos of the ink? You can put it in but that is just me.

I am a beginner also.... hee hee. have been reading up.....

Try tomatoes in pots, parsley and herbs are great in pots or..... for a cost effective 'pot', buy a bag of potting mix, for veges, lie the bag down.... cut open neatly (kind of like a picture frame, from inner corner to inner corner), plant some veges, tomato, broccoli, cos lettuce, something you know your piggies like, put in the sun and water every day... enjoy! Try asking your local nursery also.

tip... veges need to be in a sunny part of the garden, at least 6hrs a day.

mel

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#15 [url]

Sep 1 09 4:18 AM

mel,

your cut open potting mix bag thingy is a marvellous idea! most of my backyard is paved and i do not have much to worked with. some of my herbs are in pots and i have a lemon verbena growing side by side my blackjack zucchini in a small patch outside my kitchen while i have parsley (both kinds) and rosemary in my front yard.

the thing is, the soil here is really sandy maybe because we are close to the beach. Does tomatoes in pots require a greenhouse too?

my vegs plot with the exception of the rosemary and parsley in front lawn (they are thriving though) all have at least morning sun or half a day of sun. is that enough?

atm, i do not have space for cos lettuce. i might see where i can get rid some of the bf's junk and put in your potting mix bag ideas and grow some of them.

This is great! keep the tips coming. thank you.

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#16 [url]

Sep 1 09 4:32 AM

Your in Melbourne which would mean you plant Tomatoes later than us Brisbane people, so guessing, probably Oct to Nov say? They love the warmth and need it to fruit.
Sandy soil doesn't hold nutrients and water as well, so adding composted mix or a good quality soil to it should help it along.
Too add to Mel's post, plant your vege in big pots, for their root systems as they are big feeders, so pots somewhere along the diameter of 40-50cm should do it.

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#17 [url]

Sep 1 09 4:46 AM

thanks for the pot tips, Delilah. yes, the guy from the local nursery that i go to (gardenworld) did mention that now is too early to grow tomatoes. but have you seen how cheap bunnings is selling them??? i am so tempted. I love tomatoes though my piggy wont touch them with a barge pole.

regarding the soil, that is exactly what i have done, adding good potting mix and soil to it.

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#18 [url]

Sep 1 09 5:41 AM

You should be right then with the soil, a light dressing of mulch like Sugar Cane Mulch is a cheap option.
I bought some Broccoli, mixed Lettuce bunches, Basil and Herbs and planted them. A really good soil fertiliser for the vegies is Searles 5 in 1, costs about $10, get it at Bunnings. I have composted it into my soil for them. Herbs need the warmth to grow also. It's trial and error sometimes, I am lousy with Tomatoes because the bugs always get to them, every year I am going to plant them until I get a good crop, lol. I am going to try fruit fly traps this time that you can hang off the plant, they are supposed to work really well. Cherry Tomatoes are really easy to grow though, it just needs a stake as they are straggly growers.

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#19 [url]

Sep 1 09 7:03 AM

i was wondering if i can use piggy hay from the waste as mulch.

I wanted to plant basil, bf's mom who is the real greenfingers (she came down all the way from wagga just to help me get started) said it is too cold to plant them yet.

i managed to grow beet last year but they are soo small.

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#20 [url]

Sep 1 09 7:07 AM

I cant see why not, the only thing I would think of is the slight smell of piggy wee!

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