Jenny and John have had their plot for about five years, and there has been a lot of trial and error, but also a lot of enjoyment.
Living in a townhouse with minimal garden, they love having the space to grow some veggies and get out in the fresh air.
Also it’s great to talk to the other gardeners to get some tips as to what has worked for them.
They have learnt the importance of mulching. They didn’t do that the first couple of years and spent most of our time weeding!
It’s much better now that we mulch, usually with sugar cane. It also helps in summer as the soil stays moister.
The plot is roughly divided into four and they try and rotate their crops as much as possible to avoid disease.
They compost all their weeds (except oxalis) and all the leaves from their garden.
They are also slowly raising the height of the plot.
Over the last couple of years they have been growing things from seed rather than buying seedlings, which saves lots of money.
Sometimes they get a bit of a glut, but family and neighbours are always happy to receive anything they’ve grown.
Their young grandchildren love coming down and picking any veggies that are ready (and some that may not have been ready!)
They get a lot of pleasure from their plot and from feeling part of our local community.
Wen: Why do you choose sugar cane mulch over other mulch, such as straws?
Do you find a difference to mulch in thin layer or the textbook version of 5-7cm thick?
Jenny: I prefer it as I like the way it breaks down in the soil. As it breaks down I just dig it into the soil and re-top up.
Just a personal preference, and I find it’s really helping with the weeds. I wouldn’t say it’s a thin layer – but I’ve never measured it.
W: How do you rotate crops?
Is there a simple rule or some tools you use? (I heard elaborate computer apps!)
J: The crop rotation is just a simple thing I do of not planting anything in the same spot so for example if my tomatoes were in the top right section of my plot last year, I move clockwise, so they’ll be in the top left section this year and so on.
Nothing too technical, I just have to remember to record it.
W: How do you compost the weeds and green waste? Is it using compost bin?
If so, what do you do with the compost?
J: I have brought our green compost bin home and put all my veggie scraps in that – felt this was better because of rat situation.
I still have a compost section at the plot which is enclosed by pallets which just has leaves from our tree and weeds – it’s open and I dig it over fairly regularly and there’s no sign of rats.
W: How do you raise the height of the plot? Do you add in soil and compost?
J: The soil level is being raised by using compost and also before I top up the pathways with mulch I dig some of the soil out and add it to the plot first. Otherwise your plot can end up lower than pathway and get very wet and boggy which mine doesn’t.