Our New Veggie Verge
We have finally got our first veggie verge set up on nature strip out the front of our house and it is brilliant. This is something we have been thinking about for over a year and when I started reading up on how to arrange a council permit and how to set one up it fell into the too hard basket.
Although it did remain in the back of my mind, it seemed like creating an edible garden on public space was perhaps not going to happen for us.
It was purely by accident that I stumbled across the Groundswell Community Group as I scrolled through my Facebook feed one night and saw that the next suburb over from us just had a veggie verge installed.
I was so excited to see this happening in our area and when i realised I could have one too I was over the moon.
Groundswell had already done the hard work and organised council funding for their veggie verge project which was half the battle, and means it is free for residents in the area.
Not only that, they had figured out how to effectively apply for the permits to build them and had formed relationships with businesses that could provide the soil, mulch and plants and sourced recycled edgings for the gardens.
This was a dream for us.
We have been educating ourselves about growing edibles but setting up such a brilliant space that we can share with our neighbours and community was beyond our skill level.
The team (Simon, Alex & Brooke) came to visit and check out the space we had available to see if it would be suitable. In my mind, I thought there were several obstacles that might lead to this never happening but when they visited they said it was a great space to work with. What a relief!
Within a week or so, we had a date set and the team came around to get started.
We were sent a list of plants to select from that were suitable for planting in Autumn including companion plants.
Digging up the sandy soil they discovered an old curb that had been buried beneath the nature strip. One of our neighbours lent a few tools and the team actually managed to remove it. My partner pitched in with the digging too, but Groundswell did all the hard work really.
After much digging, the recycled edgings were put in place along with an irrigation system that would allow us to connect our hose to the garden. The edgings comprise of recycled plastic and timber making them a great sustainable option as well as being very durable.
New soil and compost mixed with a little of the existing soil along with a layer of mulch and the veggie patch was ready for planting.
Given our limited knowledge and experience, it was such a relief to have someone else take the lead on how to space plants and what to plant!
Groundswell also provided these neat signs so that people walking past would know is was a community veggie verge and that they were welcome to help themselves to the edibles.
Of course they will need to wait for the seedlings to take off first.
Digging in the plants was the easy bit and we now have the following:
>Carrots (seeds anyway)
>and a couple more that escape my memory
It will be a bit of trial and error as we work out what does well, and not so well in the patch.
Groundswell will send us seasonal planting lists to help us figure out what to plant next and we'll be watering this for around 10 minutes each day, especially while we are still waiting for our extended summer to finish and the rain to appear.
The irrigation is perfect for making light work of watering and how cool to see a rainbow on the first day!
The next step is to start our backyard edibles and we're hoping to be able to save seeds to add to the front garden too.
If you are located in the Port Adelaide Enfield Council area, and have a verge, get in touch with Groundswell Community Group. It's a free way to get a community space for edibles in your street.
For everywhere else, I encourage you to search your local area to see if something like this is happening and to check out your councils stand on it and you may want to check out this article and video from ABC Gardening on Starting Your Own Veggie Verge (with Costa).
Some councils only support non-edible verge gardens but with a little creativity you could include lesser known edibles. Herbs can often be included as well as edible flowers, like chamomile, that can be used in tea. Nasturtiums are typically planted for ornamental reasons in gardens, but you can use both the leaves and flowers in food dishes.
Fruit trees may be a big no-no so do your research before planting as they may be promptly removed.
It will be up to us to maintain it, and I'm really excited to get some of our green thumb neighbours involved (even if it's just for advice, a coffee and a chat). It should start some great conversations and we hope that the kids absorb some know how as they take part in it all, and develop some skills for growing their own edibles when they're older.
I'll be sharing our progress on social media and will do an update post on how it's going, so feel free to head there and add your advice and encouragement too.
At the very start of the year, my partner and I were discussing what our goals were and I said that although I really really want to grow edibles it seems that we may have to put that aside for the time being. We needed to up our skills, figure out how to manage our sandy soil, keep the pets from ruining it all AND invest money into it.
My plan was to put it all on the back burner until next year.
But, I really do think the universe was trying to tell us to keep going. Within a few weeks, we were given those amazing laundry troughs to use as planters. How could we say no? They weighed an absolute ton but as soon as we put them in place it sparked our enthusiasm again. Now, with this veggie verge, I feel like we are well on our way to success and perhaps we will even finally set up a Grow Free Cart too!
I'd love to hear your veggie verge stories (or dreams). They are such a great way to cut food miles, skip plastic produce AND connect with your community. (Not to mention a more useful alternative to lawn).