“Help — I’ve moved house and need to start a new garden asap. Where do I start?”

I love getting these sorts of questions in my Instagram Direct Messages. This one came from ‘Mr Declutter’, who lives locally to me. He’d done a heap of weeding, and was worried that the soil he’d uncovered in his new garden had no life.

Mr Declutter gets a new garden, but the soil is dry and lifeless. Where should he start work?

What would your first course of action be?

Here’s what I sent him:

“The next task is multi-pronged… heal the soil, cover the soil, bring in LIFE, and grow something you look forward to eating enough to get out and talk to it each day.

Biodynamic CPP treatment to heal the soil, or at the very least some worm tea, seaweed tea, or cow manure slurry.

Cover with something that’ll grow super fast, and stop the soil drying out. You can get lengths of nasturtiums, lay them over the soil, and see if you can keep them alive till you have other stuff growing. Quick stuff to grow and eat would be rocket. Loads of other cover crops could suit, but might not be edible.

Bring in life with flowers for bees and butterflies, deep tap roots to help develop the soil (dandelion, fennel), just a blend of herbs and flowers will do the job, and many can be grown from cuttings, or for free if you know where to locate them.

It’s a bit late in the season for the quintessential tomato/cucumber summer set-up. I’m thinking of stuff to plant now that will thrive in the summer heat but also last into autumn: beans, peas, lettuces that like heat, perhaps tiny little chilli peppers that are OK in autumn. Celery, Asian greens… These ‘star’ plants are probably worth splurging on, along with some great soil to give them a good start while you heal the soil with steps 1, 2 & 3.”

Here’s what Lee bought at the garden centre:

First step with a new garden — fix the soil.

Far too often, I see people fill their trolleys with mature plants, without first fixing the soil… look after the soil, and the plants will thank you for it.

I’m SO looking forward to seeing some progress shots from Lee.

It’s a fun challenge to start a brand new garden at different times of the year — midsummer is not easy, especially with water restrictions.

If you’d like this sort of consultation with your garden, do get in touch over at www.blueborage.co.nz, or check out the wide range of self-paced courses for online learning here. My favourite course for this kind of situation is the Foodscaping course.

Happy gardening!

Katrina Wolff, compost consultant and Soilpreneur at Blue Borage

Ideas for innovative edible gardening solutions using biodynamic methods to make ‘soil with soul’ is what New Zealand needs right now. For tips, advice and online courses go to www.blueborage.co.nz or get in touch by email at katrina@blueborage.co.nz

Compost Coach based in Titirangi, West Auckland, New Zealand. Using biodynamics to help home gardeners make top quality soil. https://www.blueborage.co.nz/

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