Where to Start?

Anyone struggling with plant success might like to try the following:

1. Look to Asian, Indian, Mediterranean and New Guinea crops instead of the traditional European crops. Smart plant selection saves so much time and effort.

2. Build by building up your soil. Australian soils are some of the oldest in the world. Most are lacking in organics. Healthy soil has an organic component of around 6%, a lot of backyard soil (or more accurately, dirt) has a carbon content of only around 2%. So start by adding carbon! Mulch and compost!

3. First plant nitrogen fixers like pigeon pea and Brisbane Wattle. As your other plants grow, these crops can be used as ‘chop and drop’ to enrich the soil with nitrogen and carbon.

4. Next plant hardy crops that will help to break up the soil. Try sweet potato, cassava, potatoes and Queensland Arrowroot.

A new garden bed with Sambung heavily mulched with sugarcane mulch.

5. Plant some resilient edible perennial herbs that will provide you with a quick crop (so you feel like you are making progress) and are easy to propagate as your edible garden expands. Think Brazilian Spinach, rosemary, Sambung, parsley, sweet leaf (katuk), Okinawa Spinach, amaranth, wild rocket, and perennial basil.

6. Mulch well with something that decomposes readily such as sugarcane mulch. The molasses residue in this mulch will also provide food for soil microbes and help those flourish and enrich your soil.

Once the above varieties are growing well you might like to try inter planting with companion plants like all herb, dogbane and native Commelina cyanea (Scurvy Weed).

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