Over the past few months, many of us have turned our attention inwards and adapted to a way of life that is slower, intentional, and ultimately, more meaningful. Growing his garden for the past 6 months, the happy and spirited Darryl from the Toowoomba Support Group has been successfully growing plants, seasonal produce and tasty herbs. Finding solace in nature, we spoke to Darryl on the power of gardening and the rewarding benefits of growing your own vegetable patch. A season filled with new opportunities, let this summer be the time you decide to take a leap into growing your own backyard veggie shop!
Why did you start your veggie patch?
I started my garden when I moved into my house 13 years ago. My garden is, and always has been everchanging; I have accumulated things and evolved it. My carer is also an artist and has added murals to my garden too!
How has gardening influenced your outlook on mindfulness and happiness?
My garden is my escape, it allows me to hide away from the world. It’s nice to have things around me and know that I have done and thought it all out. I have also been meditating for over 13 years for 30 minutes to an hour each day. I’ve also come to believe that gardens are like people: treat them well and they will respond positively.
What are your favourite things to grow?
I grow seasonal vegetables, leafy greens and herbs. Some of my favourite things to grow are broad beans, snow peas and tomatoes – all things that I can put into salads and stir-fries.
What specific tools and equipment do you use to help you with your gardening?
I used to have my plants in polystyrene boxes but now I have made wicking beds, so there is a water reserve in the bottom. I also made pots out of PVC pressure pipe. I also look at what plants will do well in certain weather; as well as tools and equipment, you have to think about what is good in shade, full sun, heat and cold.
Can you tell us about your journey with MS?
I was married with three girls, working hard, wanting to provide for my family, and was probably too busy to stop and look after myself. I was exhausted and didn’t get much sleep. I pushed myself to the limit and it got to the stage where work became my life. I was diagnosed in 1994, not long after I noticed pins and needles that travelled up one leg and down the other. MS has changed my life in every way, but life doesn’t end because you have MS. You need to look after yourself, you need to learn to check out sometimes and that is what my garden provides to me. The NDIS has changed a lot for me and allows me to get things done the way I want them done. Support workers have helped me to do this by assisting me in the garden – I also get to teach them about the garden too!
A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Veggie Patch
The Game Plan
• If you have mobility issues that make bending and digging difficult, you can opt to create your veggie patch in raised beds, pots and containers instead.
• For pots and containers, only use potting mix. For a traditional in-ground patch; dig in lots of organic matter, like homemade compost or manure.
Right Place, Right Time
• Your veggie patch will need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
• Choose plants that are heat tolerant and can survive in the harsh Australian sun. The best-suited plants and herbs that thrive in summer are chillies, eggplant, capsicum, root veg, berries and leafy greens.
• Spread out your seeds to give them the right amount of space to grow.
• Start a regular watering regime too – every day in the morning is best!
• Protect your veggie patch with cover crops and fine gauze netting from bugs and birds.
• Alternatively, you can encourage beneficial insects and use natural pest controls such as bio-insecticide for caterpillars or beer baits for slugs and snails.
Little Veggie Patch Co
The team behind local Aussie business, Little Veggie Patch Co, have kindly presented MS Queensland with a special discount code so that you can start your own backyard veggie garden. Use code: MSQUEENSLAND at the online checkout and get 10% off!*
*This code is valid until the 13/12/2020 and is available for online use only. Little Veggie Patch Co deliver throughout Queensland. This discount cannot be used on Little Veggie Patch Co veggie crates.