Feature

Gardening the verge

G Magazine

Want to convert your own verge in the style of Costa’s? Milkwood Permaculture’s Kirsten Bradley guides you through a spring start.

verge garden

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So you’re looking to plant your own verge garden and have tilled the soil and added some good compost to boost the soil. But what’s best to plant at this time of year? And will it be suitable for roadside growing? It’s time for some planning and some strategy...

To ensure a blooming verge that can stand up to the excitement of roadside life, it’s best to plant hardy vegies and herbs that will be up for the challenge. Some great spring planting choices could include ruby or rainbow chard, Italian flat-leaf parsley, bak choi, mizuna, florence fennel and thai basil. All of these are quick growing, tasty, and can withstand the odd collision that is life on the verge. Herbs in particular are great for sharing with the street, allowing people to pick off what they need as they go by.

Think also about the appearance of your verge. Do you want your neighbors to feel good about your garden? Sure you do! Preferably to the point where they start their own, turning your whole street into a fabulous edible landscape. So add some flowers. And then add some more. Not only will these make your verge garden so gorgeous that it’s a sight to behold, there are other tangible benefits, like attracting ‘good bugs’ that will help manage pests (like caterpillars) on all those veggies of yours. Some hardy flowering plants that will bring huge benefits to your verge garden include marigold, tansy, sweet pea, society garlic, nasturtium, scarlet broad beans, pansies and geraniums. The marigold petals and nasturtium flowers are also great in salads.

Next you need some dynamic accumulators. These are plants that can mine the subsoil for minerals and make them available to your precious patch of verge. Think about adding things like yarrow (which also has gorgeous flowers) and comfrey. Once the comfrey starts to grow madly, chop the leaves off (it will re-sprout readily), steep the leaves in water for a week and make ‘comfrey tea’ - a nutrient-rich, liquid fertiliser for your garden.

Lastly, add your personal touch. A small earthenware pot, dug-in as a micro pond, or a stool, or perhaps a sign with the garden’s name. All these things help say to someone passing by ‘this is our garden’, which encourages both interaction and respect for the space.

Verge gardening can be a great way to draw you out of your home and into your community. Best of all, a spring verge garden full of growing vegies greets you the minute you get home, and is sure to put a smile on your face before you’ve even walked in the door. Happy planting!