Reef Doctor is participating in the vegetable growing season for the first time with the establishment of a brand new vegetable garden! Our objective is to create a garden, which has a nutrient rich soil composition perfectly suited for this region and a healthy variety of plant species, all of which can be sourced locally by any individual or communities wishing to grow their own food. The project was initially pioneered, conducted, and documented by volunteer Silvan Birkner who constructed a series of identical wooden garden boxes, with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of different soil compositions on locally available vegetables and to extend any resulting knowledge to the population here in the bay. Silvan got the project off to a great start and now we are receiving seeds, fine tuning soil composition, and planting, planting, planting! By using various methods to enrich the generally sandy, nutritionally deprived soil found here, we hope to encourage a more diverse and sustainable diet, with less reliance on the bay and its fisheries as a primary means of nutrition and livelihood.
With the help of Director Emma and students from the new Reef Doctor school (more info on this to follow soon!), we completed planting the garden with a variety of seeds on Friday 17 March. To encourage the students, we provided them with their choice of seeds and two vegetable boxes to plant. Initially Reef Doctor interns planted three of the five boxes with various herbs such as coriander, basil and parsley, and vegetables including tomatoes, squash, carrots, and beets.
The placement of these plants was chosen based on soil properties like nutrient load and water retention. Some general guidelines for companion planting were also utilised to ensure the plants in each box would benefit from one another rather than growing independently or acting as antagonists. The boxes that were later planted with the students adhered largely to the same guidelines; however, we wanted the children to have the freedom to plant what they desired and therefore were not as strict in deciding which plants were placed adjacent to one another. As our seedlings begin to sprout we are all excited to see how the plants will fair under these sometimes challenging conditions. The sight of new, green life, is undeniably pleasant and we have the highest hopes for out new recruits!
Blog by RD Intern Kasen Wally