Ep#23 – Elements of Growing a Veggie Garden

Today’s episode I want to share a summary of what I have been learning so far on my journey on growing an organic and regenerative veggie garden. Simple elements I have learnt through permaculture, Syntropic Agroforestry, regenerative agriculture and the soil food web.

Join me as I go through the elements to set up for success with your veggie garden.

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Episode 23: Elements of Growing a Veggie Garden 

Welcome to Thriving with Nature, a podcast that gives you the tools you need to live a modern lifestyle that helps regenerate our planet. And now your host, Hayley Weatherburn. 

Hello Thrivers. Welcome to this week’s episode. Today, we’re going to be talking about a we, myself and you’re listening. So, it is a we-relationship. Thank you for listening. We are going to be talking about the Elements of Growing a Veggie Garden. The reason why I’m looking into this a lot is because of the living supplement garden, which I talked about last week. But a lot of what I’m going to talk about today also applies to if you’re building your own vegetable garden. And so I do get a lot of people coming up to me and asking me, how do I build a vegetable garden? What are the things I need to think about? And so, we’re going to talk about all of these things. And I may have a bonus sort of element to chat about in regards to the living supplement garden itself.

But to start with, if you want to grow a veggie garden, the first thing you want to be doing is thinking about whether you’re planting it in the ground or using a raised bed. For some of you, it’s a very easy decision. You may have no space to do an in ground vegetable garden. So, a raised bed is your main option. 

For those of you who do have gardens in the ground, the first thing to consider is you may need to check the toxicity of the soil that’s there. If you know that you’re in a place that could have had a lot of toxins, especially closer to cities potentially. Then, what you want to do is get that checked. And then, you may have to do a process. Sunflowers, for example, are really good to start planting will help clean the soil and will help pull the toxins out. Those are the things to think about. So, where am I going to plant in? 

If you’re going to be using a raised bed, you don’t want to be using toxic material or material that could rot easily if you want it there for a long time. I’ve used pine wood that hasn’t been treated. I didn’t want any chemicals. There’s other woods that you can use a teak, mahogany. I believe, but those are a bit more of an expensive wood. Those are the things to think about in regards to where. 

The next is sort of the placement in regards to sunshine. Now, personally, I’ll share with you a mistake I’ve made and I’m learning. The first thing I did when I moved into this place was waited for about three months by observing where the sun was going. What was it doing? And I actually even with chalk, measured out where the sunshine and the shadows and all this kind of it to work out where the best place was to plant my veggie garden. The reason is you want about four to six hours of sun on your veggie garden. And so, finding a place where that’s going to happen, you may need to use reflective surfaces to help increase sunshine into your garden. If you have a garden that is a little bit more shaded, then of course, you’re going to need to think about what type of plants you plant. Because you may want to use plants that don’t need as much sun. But ultimately, four to six hours is a great start to have now. 

And the mistake I made was I did all those measurements and I finally started doing planting and it’s about six months later. And one thing I didn’t consider was I have a mango tree and now the sun’s behind the mango tree for most of the day. So I really want the experiment of my living supplement garden. And so, I have decided to sacrifice some of the branches. The mango tree is about to fruit. And so ideally, I would never want to prune some of the mango trees. But for the sake of the living supplement garden that I’m growing, I needed to make sure there’s some more sun. Once the fruit has happened for me, I will prune and actually cut the height down of this mango tree. So it’s a bit shorter, but a lot bushier the way you prune it to ensure that all year round the sun on the side of where I’ve got my gardens. Because right now completely, the sun six months ago, it’s high enough that it doesn’t get affected by the mango tree but six months later because the sun moves. 

There’s a really good app called suncalc.net. All year round, it’ll give you where the sun is so you can sort of get an idea. I thought I had calculated. I just forgot about the height of the mango tree. So that’s a really good resource to see where you’re putting your bed. 

Now, the next thing to think about is, of course, the soil that you’re going to be putting in if you’re putting it in a raised bed, or if it’s in the ground preparing the soil ready to go. If it’s in the ground, ultimately, you want to be, the best thing you can do because you don’t want to disturb the soil, you don’t want to dig it up because there’s life in that soil. And if you till, we’re finding no till is much more important, which is the breaking up of the soil. If you till, that can destroy the fungi, the mycelia, like a microriser and, totally slow down the process of creating that life in the soil that’s actually going to help build your plants. That’s really important. 

What a lot of people do is you can just put or find a beautiful organic bio complete, if possible, compost. A bio complete compost has all the microbes that you need inside the soil, inside the compost to help start replenishing that area and also looking after your plants. 

So what you would do in the ground is, I would suggest you’d get a black top or plastic or something to kill off (what’s underneath the ground). This is one of the ways that I’ve seen done at one of the farms I was at. They get a layer of plastic that’s sort of cut into the bed shape that they wanted. So, it’s sort of long. Maybe, it’s like 10 meters by 80 centimeters across and they lied on the grass or they lied on the area and they left it there for a couple of weeks. And what will happen is it will kill off the plants underneath the grass or whatever that’s underneath. And then once that’s completely killed off, then what I would do is put compost, a layer of beautiful, rich compost on top of that. And then, you’d want to cover the soil with some rice mulch or hay or some nice dried sort of biomass. That’s going to keep the soil moist, keep the moisture in, feed the microbes microbes, and keep the direct sun off there from killing the microbes. That’s for in ground.

If you’re actually going and building the soil, you have to think about (this). This is still a process for me in doing a raised bed one. Because I’m trying to replicate what’s in the garden. You want to make sure everything is inside that bed, especially because there’s raised beds that are connected to the ground. Those ones you can sort of treat a bit like in ground because the opportunity is there for microbes, mycelia and fungi to come up into the raised bed, but also go kilometers away and get nutrients if it needs to bring it back. With the raised bed that I have because I have concrete, I can’t connect to the ground with that. So, I need to make sure that I have the soil which is made up of sand, silt and clay. And then, I have all the microbes that I need. Right now, I don’t have the ability to check that I have a bio complete compost. 

That’s one of the things that the soil food web, Dr. Elaine Ingham, does. And I have a link on my website. I think it’s chapter 20, episode 20 of the podcast. There’s a link to the soil food web. It could be 20, 19 or 20. That teaches you about making sure that you create a complete soil food web. Cause it’s the microbes, if you’ve been listening to me as we go, it’s the microbes that turn the nutrients in the soil to plant soluble so that the plant can absorb them. The plant alone cannot absorb nutrients. It needs life in the soil to help it. So, yeah. 

You build and construct a beautiful soil and compost inside this raised bed. I’ve used a mix of mushroom compost, a cow manure compost. And I’ve got some rock salt, like volcanic rocks sort of broken up inside there, cause there’s a lot of minerals in those, and so forth. There’s a way to build all that. And I will do some training videos on this, ultimately that I’ll put on my website. 

Now, the other thing is to make sure it’s always covered. Like I said, with the in ground, you want to make sure it’s covered. I’m using Ilang-Ilang cause that’s the one thing that I could make sure that it was organic. You don’t want to go and get a rice mulch that they’ve gone and spray glyphosate or something on it because that’s going to kill all the microbes in your raised bed. So, you want to make sure you’ve got some organic non-chemical rice mulch or hay, or there’s many different things you can use to cover. That’s really important. 

So, we went through the raised bed first, on the ground. We’ve talked about the placement with the sunshine. We’re talking about the soil makeup and what you’ve got to consider. The next thing to consider is sort of what plants are you going to plant? What do you want inside there? What can grow? What grows with one another or companion planting? And what’s the speed that it grows at? And what is the element?  

Sometimes a plant needs a bit of protection as it grows like a mother. A mother needs to protect a child. It’s the same with some plants. With syntropic agroforestry, I learnt, for example, if you plant carrots and radishes together, the radish will grow quickly and the leaves will protect the carrot as the carrot is growing. And then ultimately, once the radish is ready, you’ll be able to pick the radish and then that’s the time that the carrot needs the full sun anyway. And so, that is one of the elements that you, that I want to consider. 

You can do this a lot more simply if you just want to find the plants that you can plant at your time in the season that grows well with your environment and what you want to eat. However, what I’m sort of talking about here is sort of the next level aspect of it. To help regenerate the soil is one of the reasons. As you grow all this, you want to make sure that your soil is building, not depleting. A lot of methods, monocrops, a lot of other methods, a lot of methods such as monocropping and so forth, actually degrade the soil. Whereas, you want to do regenerative agriculture, and these are sort of the elements to help you make sure that you are building the soil. 

Now, with annual plants so, for example. An annual plant means that it lasts for a certain time, maximum sort of a year. And then, you have to replant it. It’s not a perennial. A perennial plant can have fruits year after year after year. And so those are the things you want to consider.

Biodynamics talk about planting perennials and annuals together, which is also possible. But yeah, thinking about the strata and the companion, you know, tomatoes and basil grow well together. They’re a great companion plant. I see watermelon and corn planted together here in Bali a lot. 

So, it’s thinking about those types of things, which, again, as I’m learning more, I will be doing some more training videos. And ultimately, I would love to have a resource. There’s resources out there, but I’m going to create a resource myself to help give to people so that they can look at their health and what they need and then where they are and it’ll help grow. It’ll help spit out what exactly you want to plant and where to plant it.

Another element you need to consider when you’re planting a vegetable garden is water. I’ll actually, I might go back to plants for a second. Of course, you want to make sure you’re getting healthy, go to an organic or biodynamic garden and see if you can buy seeds from them or seedlings. So, that’s really important because you don’t want to be getting seeds that have chemicals or fertilizers or things around the seeds that are quite poisonous. You don’t want any of that kind of stuff, pesticide seeds and all that kind of stuff. So definitely, looking for your organic seeds or seedlings that are growing, because that will affect things. 

Water is the second last element I wanted to chat about today. If you’re using a hose from the house, be sure that there’s no chlorine or chemicals that are coming out in that water. Because again, that’s just going to kill all the microbes. All this work you’re doing, and then you go and water it with a hose that has chemicals in it, you’re completely reversing all the good work that you’re doing. So one thing you can do is fill the water up. Fill a bucket up of water. Put it out in the sun for 24 hours and that’ll actually kill off the chlorine. So, that’s one thing you can do. I sometimes put my little aerated bubbler in it to help mix it and make sure that it still is alive. Here in Bali, there’s a lot of dengue. And so I don’t like having buckets of water that are just stagnant. I like to sort of bubble it up like you would do with a compost tea so that my water is aerated. That’s something you don’t have to do, but it’s an option if you like. So make sure that you’re putting really beautiful water. The best water, of course, it’s sort of rainwater. Unless you’re living in a highly polluted area, rainwater is what I would consider the ultimate because it’s been filtered. It’s probably evaporated from the ocean or from lakes. And then that way, that water coming back on is perfect. It’s in its natural state. So, using that rainwater to water your garden. There you go. 

We’ve talked about what to plant in, where to plant, the soil, the plants, the water. When is the next thing to talk about. And this is something that I’m definitely very new learning about. That in biodynamics, there’s a lot of research which I’m hoping to read soon is on planting in regards to the moon cycles. And for that I can understand. We know that tides are affected by the moon. That on the full moon, there’s a lot of accidents and more births on the full moon. So our bodies are 70% water, they’re affected by the moon. Of course naturally, we would think plants are. I think it’s a full moon. The water’s right up in the top of the plant, new moon, I think it’s right down the bottom. There’s emphasis on that. 

I’ve also been watching a biodynamics webinar yesterday in regards to where the plant planets are at different times to do with different things. So the roots, the fruits, the leaves and the flowers. So those four elements are affected by the plant planets. And I believe it’s to do with where the water and all those kinds of things are in the plant, but I’ll be looking more into that than the biodynamics. And so when to plant? So, I created my living supplement garden just recently and found out that it is not a good time to plant now, which is great because it gave me time to sort of sit and think about what do I want to plant and where do I want to plant it in the box.

Next week, I think it is. It will finally be the time where it’s good to plan again. It’s leading up to a full moon. In fact, yeah, the few days, something that the biodynamics webinars said was as a very rudimentary basis. The few days before full moon is if you’ve got seeds to plant, that’s the good time to plant it. That’s very rudimentary. But when I looked at a biodynamic calendar, it even needed more detailed planting, certainly for, if you have root vegetables like carrots and beetroots and radishes to plant that at a certain time. If you’re doing something that’s fruits like tomatoes or strawberries or capsicum, you’ve got to plant them at a certain time. If you’re planning to consume the flower, like butterfly pea, that’s going to be planted at a certain time. So yeah, those are the elements. 

And can’t wait to look more into it because, Anastasia, the book where this whole idea of the living supplement garden came from, she mentioned about planting and the connection, very tight connection between the cosmos and these little seeds. And so it’s very interesting that there is a lot of research. Biodynamics started with Rupert Steiner back in Germany, and there’s been a lot of research since then. So I’m looking forward to reading all of that as well. 

There you go. Those are the elements to think about when you’re growing your vegetable garden. The next thing I want to chat about is with the living supplement garden specifically. One of the things I’m considering is it’s looking at the health, the health of the human that’s going to be connected to this garden. And so what are the symptoms the humans are feeling? How to measure this? That’s something I’m looking at. To take blood tests or list down the symptoms that you have. And then, how do we assess that at the end? Like through the living supplement garden experience, when you’re connecting with the plants, when you’re eating these fruits and vegetables and so forth. That’s another element to think about with the living supplement garden because it is a connected being. 

That’s just the basic elements of growing your veggie garden. Hopefully, that helps. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to pop over to the thrivingwithnature.com. Otherwise, come join me on this journey of the living supplement garden over on Patreon. You can just go to the livingsupplementgarden.com and you will find it there. And I look forward to seeing you there. Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you got lots out of this. And I look forward to speaking to you next week.

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