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May 13, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Nigella Lawstudent – DIY Vegetable Garden!

Although these wintry weeks may not seem ideal for vegetable-garden building, and the sweet summer produce that’s rapidly going up in price is being replaced by boring root vegetables, you can still remedy your flat’s mince-and-carb mantra. This is a DIY vegetable garden even your most stubborn carnivore could feel proud of.


You will need:

Some spare, flat garden (be it a raised bed or a patch of grass)
A spade
3-4 hours of free time
Vegetable seeds/plants (find out what to plant using helpful guides online)
Brute force
Compost/ vegetable mix



1) Choose a sunny area, preferably with nice rich soil, not clay-like. If your soil is more clay than soil, you will need to add more compost or vege mix.

2) Start digging. Mark out an area that you think you could fill with plants. It doesn’t pay to be too ambitious as it will take a few hours to dig the soil up, and you don’t want to turn beautiful lawn into a brown pit for no reason.

3) Dig about 40 cm deep. The soil needs to be nice and soft and aerated, so simply pulling up each clump of grass and dirt once will not suffice.

4) Remove rocks, sticks and other debris from your vegetable patch. This is quite time-consuming and also less important if you are only planning on growing “leafy” vegetables; but it is a necessity if you’re after root veges.

5) Add compost or a ‘vegetable mix’-type soil enhancer to the fray. You can pick these up quite cheaply from any garden store – but this is not a necessity. Composting your food scraps is an excellent thing, and this is an excellent use thereof.



1) Pick up some seeds or plants from garden stores/community collectives/your nana (she can send them in the mail!)

2) If using plants, dig small holes about 10-15 cm deep, and about 20-30 cm apart.

3) Bury seeds a mere 1-2 cm down into the soil. If you plant them too far down they will not grow. You may need to grow seedlings inside in egg trays if the weather is too cold, but avoid doing this if possible – plants don’t appreciate being transported and it’s more hassle for you.

4) Give the plants a good watering directly after planting, and ensure they stay well-watered. You want the soil to be consistently moist, rather than having a large degree of variation. I anticipate this will not be a problem for the next three months or so.

5) If you are growing leafy greens such as silverbeet or spinach, you can pick leaves as they are ready. Alternatively, you can wait until the plant is a hearty size and pick the whole plant then and there.

6) If you have planted them too close to each other, thin out the weedy ones after a month or so to allow the stronger ones to blossom – Darwinism at its best.



Silverbeet balls are a favourite dish from my childhood.

  • – 1 silverbeet plant, chopped quite finely (you’ll need about as much silverbeet as you’d expect from a supermarket-bought plant)

  • – 1 cup cheese (I recommend an edam/feta combo or adding some mozzarella for an indulgent addition)

  • – 2 eggs (one for the mixture, one beaten for the crumb)

  • – 1 onion

  • – 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • – ½-¾ cup breadcrumbs.

  • – Salt and pepper, herbs of your choice (basil/oregano/rosemary are all cool)

Blanch the silverbeet in boiling water. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Mix in one finely chopped onion and the garlic cloves. Then add the grated cheese, egg and seasonings. Add enough breadcrumbs until the mix is dry enough to roll into balls.

Roll the mixture into balls, then roll each one in breadcrumbs. Roll them in the beaten egg and then again in more breadcrumbs. Fry these bad boys in plenty of oil (about 1 cm depth in the bottom of a frying pan) at med-high heat. You want the outside to brown but you need to let the inside cook as well; unless you have particularly crappy flatmates, salmonella is not much fun. Turn frequently. As you’ll need to cook these in batches, put the others in an oven dish and put the oven on to about 150°C while you cook the others – this will keep them warm and ensure the middle is cooked.

Enjoy with almost any meal. I serve mine on a bed of rice with miso gravy, or with salads and roast vegetables, or stuffed Portobello mushrooms.


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