When you are preparing or setting up your Vegepod for spring, the most important (and usually most overlooked) factor to consider is your soil. Being a contained garden, your soil choice is crucial to the success of your crops as the plants cannot draw nutrients from anywhere else, so here are our top tips to ensure you get your soil health right from the get go:
Buy premium potting mix
When first filling your Vegepod, buying a premium grade potting mix from your local garden centre is the key to success. Cheap potting mix from large chain stores contains poor nutrient levels, little to no organic manures, cheap soil ingredients that do not hold nutrients or water well & will prevent your veggies from thriving. Vegepod Perlite Plus is also an organic material that is recommended in oncjunction with premium mix. By putting a layer on top of the wicking beds and mixing the rest through the premium mix it will provide great minerals for growing veggies and prevent blockage in the wicking beds.
The top things to look out for when purchasing a premium potting mix are:
Premium standard logo : The packaging of premium potting mix bags will be clearly labelled Australian Standards 3743 logo which is red and has 5 ticks- this is the potting mix you want!
Price: Anything costing less than $8-$10 a bag is highly likely not to be a premium potting mix due to the poor quality of the ingredients within. Depending on the retailer you should look for a reasonably priced bag in combination with the premium red tick logo shown above.
Name : The majority of premium mixes will have 'premium' in its name on the bag.
Feed your soil
Although your premium potting mix should have nutrients included in the mix, herbs, veggies and fruits will need extra feeding due to all the lovely produce they are growing for you! Specifically through spring and summer when your plants are most active, watering on a liquid fertiliser like our Vegepod Booster every fortnight is a great idea. You will need an fertiliser not solely a soil conditioner like Seasol, as this will only help root growth not fruit & veg growth! Vegepod Booster not only feeds your veg with the appropriate nutrient levels but it also assists in soil rejuvenation.
Liquid fertiliser is great as it gets to the plants quicker and then gets recycled in the Vegepod reservoirs with the water. However adding slow release fertiliser is also ok if thats what you have on hand. Strong fertilisers like blood and bone should be used in moderation as it can burn the plant roots if too much is added.
Add to your soil each season
After each season, your existing potting mix will need nutrients added to it to ensure continuous healthy produce, good soil structure and good plant health. You will also find that the soil may have sunk slightly so you will need to add to it so it reaches the edge of the Vegepod too.
We recommend purchasing a well aged animal manure like cow manure from your garden centre and mixing this in lightly with the existing and some additional premium potting mix. You could add some of your own compost (again as long as its well aged and weed-free) and worm castings for an extra nutrient boost!
If you can do this a week at least before planting this will give the soil a chance to settle and create the perfect planting environment.