Friday, August 6, 2010

Kinder Gardens - Peter's Talk

I have been participating in the
Most people participating, are in the USA,
warm weather and great growing conditions,
here in Southern Australia, it's the slow time in the patch,
so, I thought I would share this instead.

A while ago, March 2009 actually,
Peter was asked by the local
Art Is Festival to talk about his veggie patch
at the grey matters forum.
The theme of the festival was
Art is Tasty.

Also speaking at the forum was a DPI representative,
to speak about what food the
 farming community grows in our region,
and a local farmer talking about his tradional
biological farming techniqueson his cropping farm.
The quest speaker was Stephanie Alexander,
founder of the
and founder of the
 in Australian schools

I will share some of Peters talk, about our veggie patch.

Firstly, my inspiration came from my childhood experience.
As a child I grew up on a farm 15 klm out of Horsham, 
my Parents had a large garden.

Dad always had fresh veggies growing in the garden and
when there was too much to handle,
it went into the large freeze or preserved for another day.
So from a very early age I was exposed to the
joy of growing your own fresh, healthy fantastic tasting veggies.

My motivation to grow veggies in our own back yard comes from
My Own Family.
I want my children to grow up knowing what
healthy food is and where it comes from.

I want them to feel the joy of growing something from a seed,
watching it grow,
looking after it until you can pick it / pull it / or dig it up,
to bring it inside and eat it
 having taken it from a seed all the way through to a meal.

 Sharing, I love sharing produce from our garden
with friends and family, as is often the case you
tend to get a glut of something from time to time.
I use some, store some and give some away.
Taste, there is simply no substitute
for the flavour of fresh home grown veggies.
The classic example is Tomatoes, but I can’t think of anything
I grow that doesn’t taste better then it’s distant supermarket cousin.

It’s a Healthier choice – Because my garden is organic,
I know there’s no pesticides or harmful chemicals to worry about.
It’s reassuring to know any of us, particularly our children,
can eat food directly from our garden
with all the positives and none of the negatives.
At most we rinse off the dirt or dust.
Some crops, like sugar snap peas,
we grow knowing they’ll never make it inside.
The boys eat them from the bushes when playing outside.

It’s also my escape - as with most hobbies
its an escape away from the stress of the normal working day.
For some that may be rebuilding a car or playing a weekend sport.
But for me, its working in the patch.

So, how do I manage to keep veggies alive in a drought

I Mulch a lot,
I use pea straw and sugar cane in the warmer months
I’ve improved my soil to increase its water holding capacity.
 I add loads of Compost from our compost bins each season.
I plant Green Manure each winter.
3 of the 6 bed is sown down to lush green manure which
I dig in when it’s nee high at the end of winter.
It breaks down very quickly and  ready for new crops by Spring.
It’s a very good, easy way of improving the soil.

I’ve learnt from my mistakes,
adjusting timing of my crops to maximise production
before it gets too hot in the summer.
I’ve stopped plantings new plants at the height of summer.
I wait until Autumn to plant crops that will grow through the winter.
I sow early in spring and protect young plants from frost
so they’re established and producing before the height of summer.

Another key is Crop Rotation.
Not only does it minimise the pest’s and diseases,
I find it also simplifies when you need to plant what and where.
I use Market Umbrellas over the 6 beds to provide a
little relief from oppressive heat.
I use the taller plants to shade shorter ones.
Corn shades the Zucchinis, tomatoes share capsicum etc.
I’ve plated Grapevines along the northern end of our yard to
help protect the yard from the hot northerly winds,
They also provide us with months of lovely fruit.
Although I’ve installed a
Graywater system for other areas in the garden,
The Veggie patch is the main area we water by hand,
so we all get involved.
It’s only the size of the watering cans that differ.
(our area had been on severe water restrictions) 
Jacqueline and I both believe if you’re going to water something,
you may as well make it something you can eat.

The difference between Home Grown and Supermarket veggies
They’re better for you, they’re more nutritious.
The Flavour - I mentioned tomatoes earlier,
but I think the difference is
chalk and cheese on a whole range of foods.
I’m sure Stephanie will back me up on this,
you can’t really be into good food and good cooking
unless you’re into fresh food.
 And home grown is the freshest you can get.
It’s also worth noting, a statistic I’ve heard a number of times lately:

“it takes 5 times more water
to produce broad acre commercial vegetables
than it take to produce the same vegetable in a home garden”.

And that’s not taking into account the transportation and
distribution to get it to your local retail outlet.

Hopefully, Peter and all the speakers insired
others to start their own patch.

If you got through all that, well done!
I don't usually like my blog to wordy.



  1. I love it! what an inspiration, its made me really excited about ours, now we are back from holidays I will be posting a bit more

  2. Growing veggies is a joy and something that ALL kids should get a chance to experience. However as a parent of a child with severe, life-threatening food allergies, the ever-increasing push for primary-aged kids to cook and then share their food at school is an absolute nightmare!!!! Please, please, please keep this in mind before promoting things such as Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Gardens program. It sounds lovely but completely ignores the rising numbers of kids for whom a school kitchen is a minefield. Growing veggies at school can be encouraged and enjoyed without the complication of cooking and eating the produce at school.

  3. It sounds like it was a great talk and newspaper article! Getting people excited about gardening is so fun and exciting.

  4. Congratulations Peter, it looks like there was quite a crowd. well done, wish we had of been there to hear the talk.
    Hope Max is behaving.

  5. inspiring. i love that it is his 'me' time. a hobby where the whole family gets to reap the benefits - that's pretty cool!


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