Residents of KeyInvest’s Woodside Lodge retirement village can look forward to an abundance of nutritious home-grown vegetables in the not-too-distant future after receiving expert advice from gardening personality Sophie Thomson. The popular author, columnist, broadcaster and horticulturalist ran a workshop for residents and guests of Woodside Lodge this week, offering a litany of winter gardening tips and advice.
“I was delighted to see how many enthusiastic gardeners there were at Woodside Lodge and equally enthused to spend time with some residents and guests who are keen to begin vegetable gardening,” explained Ms. Thomson.
“All you really need to get started is as little as one square-metre and it is such a rewarding hobby – in more ways than one,” added Ms Thomson. “Nutrition is very important for people as they get older and having one’s own vegetable garden is an easy way for older Australians to have a healthy combination of nutrients and fibre in constant supply.”
Sophie’s advice for those who are about to start a vegetable garden for the first time is not to rely on the soil in their property as it is likely to be of poor quality, especially in built-up areas. Existing soil should be enhanced with quality soil products whilst containers such as pots, wall gardens or wicking beds can also be used.
Sophie’s other tips for getting started include:
- If you have only got a small garden, it is vital to make good plant choices. Choose ‘good value’ vegetables that are highly productive in a limited space e.g. tomatoes or repeat-harvest crops such as sprouting broccoli.
- Avoid veggies that take up a lot of space over a long period e.g. large cabbages and cauliflower.
- Plant a variety of veggies and go for a variety of colours as this offers a wide variety of nutrients whilst also looking good on the plate.
- After harvesting a vegetable, remove it, improve the soil and plant again.
- Mix veggies in amongst ornamentals to maximise space and deter pests. Insects gets confused with the different smells that come from a mixed garden.
Sophie Thomson’s tips for small-garden veggies include:
- Loose-leaf or ‘cut and come again’ lettuces. When you harvest them, be sure to do so early in the morning as their stems and leaves absorb a bitter-tasting sap from their roots during the day.
- Spring onions – a real all-purpose veg that is easy to grow and doesn’t take up much space.
- Tomatoes especially climbing varieties like Tommy Toe or Patio.
- Capsicums, eggplants and chilies – there are many, many varieties to experiment with and they are easy to grow.
- Asian greens – there is nothing quite like fresh bok choy in a home-made Laksa soup in winter!
- Celery – try purple-stemmed celery as it looks great in salads.
- ‘Vertical’ veggies eg. Climbing peas and beans, golden nugget pumpkins, climbing spinach, cucumber. Try to get your hands on some Gem Squash which is very popular in South Africa and is slowly making a name for itself in Australia.
- Salad greens like rocket, mustards.
- Herbs eg. parsley, basil, coriander and these can be planted in between other plants Perennial herbs like chives, thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary.
- Edible flowers eg. nasturtium, calendulas, borage, violas. They taste great and look great and also bring in ‘beneficial’ insects to your garden such as ladybirds.
Woodside Lodge is situated in leafy Woodside, a short drive from Hahndorf, and offers a quintessential Adelaide Hills retirement lifestyle with fantastic scenery and many endearing features. Residents enjoy a strong sense of community and the remarkable range of onsite facilities include a gym, library, hairdressing salon, bar and billiards room. There is also a well-equipped workshop for residents to undertake DIY and hobby projects.
The village is characterised by modern, comfortable homes, all of which have a six-star energy rating and are strategically positioned to benefit from the vast number of historic gum trees on site. The village offers a wide range of housing designs to accommodate singles or couples with two bedrooms, most with a study and generous garage space. The final stage of 15 homes, including 8 two level villas with private lifts, will be available from January 2020 with reservations being accepted shortly.