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Home Grown Editorial

John Mason writes a quarterly editorial column in Home Grown Magazine. Here is one he wrote in 2013.

Welcome to another fantastic edition of our magazine. Since the last issue I’ve spent a month in England visiting gardens and garden shows; and two months applying that inspiration to my own garden. As a result, our courtyard is ablaze with colour and we are harvesting herbs and vegies daily from the garden.  I’ve also been busy in the office, writing articles for Home Grown, and finishing a series of new books including titles on Proteas, Annuals and Bulbs. If you want to keep up with what we are doing, join us on facebook.

We all know it’s good to eat vegies, but maybe there are benefits you haven’t considered. I was discussing some research with a doctor recently, that indicates that our ability to digest food and stay thin is linked to the type and diversity of bacteria in our gut. I was told about other research that showed how eating more vegetables and less of everything else, helped maintain a greater diversity of bacteria in the gut; and in turn create a whole range of health benefits. The message is clear, if you want to be healthier, and live longer; eat more vegetables.

Growing vegies really isn’t as difficult as many people might think. Early August, I set about building a new vegie bed (5 X 2.5m). I built a brick wall knee height around the area (ensuring lots of drain holes at the base); then filled it with layers of sugar cane mulch and mushroom compost,. (You could just as easily use lucerne hay and any type of rotted manure. If you use fresh manure, let the bed settle a few weeks before planting). This type of raised no dig bed is super fertile, drains well, but also holds water better than most soils. I planted the bed mid August, started harvesting vegies mid September; and here is a photo of me with the vegie garden at the end of September. Why don’t you give it a go?

The long range weather forecast suggests a drier and hotter summer across most of Australia this year. Conditions like that make gardening harder and the need for mulching stronger than ever. After 44 years in this industry, I am convinced the biggest mistake people make is to not use enough mulch. Covering the found with a centimetre or two of mulch really does very little. Now is the time to get really serious. If you want plants to survive this long, hot summer, spread mulch 20cm or more thick. Use anything organic that is cheap and readily available –I use sugar cane mulch in Queensland; but when I lived in Melbourne it was Lucerne Hay. In some places, sawdust or wood chip are just as cheap.

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