Good drainage is important, so avoid boggy areas. If you have a heavy clay soil, improve drainage by building a raised bed, mounding soil or creating a free-draining ‘no-dig’ garden on the soil surface (see below). There are plenty of prefabricated raised beds to choose from, or if you’re handy with tools you can make your own from timber or recycled bricks. They all look great, and help to keep your soil and mulch materials in place too, which leaves a tidy finish. If you don’t have the time or budget to install raised beds, don’t worry, just mark out your area and get growing.
The ideal bed width is 1-1.2m, which allows most people to comfortably reach the centre of the bed, and 2-3m is a good length. Any longer and it’s a hike to get to the other side. The pathways between beds need to be at least 75cm wide to comfortably manoeuvre a wheelbarrow, but 1m is better.
I don’t mind the cardio workout you get with a little light tilling, but these days I’m less inclined to torture my delicate torso pounding hard earth with a spade or mattock when establishing new vegie beds. I’m a big fan of the ‘no dig’ method because it doesn’t jar your joints. Best of all, it creates a highly fertile growing medium and you can use this method to build new beds or recondition existing ones.
It’s basically building compost directly at the site where you’re growing, building up a wide range of organic materials in a sequence of thin layers that
In some areas, conditions are still too hot in March for planting out delicate winter vegies into the ground. Instead, you can start sowing seed in punnets of seed-raising mix or growing seedlings on in pots ready for planting out in a month or so (in the tropics, sow seed in April). Just find a cool spot to place your containers. It needs to be somewhere that gets a few hours of morning sun, with protection from the midday and afternoon sun.