Archives: General Gardening

Alfalfa, Mung Beans, Wheatgrass – I Love This Sprouter

I really love this alfalfa sprouts (and other seeds) sprouter. There are just so many positives with growing sprouts at home. How cool is this image too – these are two of my 3 children and this is how I found them when I came downstairs yesterday morning. They each have a tray and they religiously come down to see how their seeds are growing.

This specific 4 tray sprouter is a “Mr Fothergills Kitchen Seed Sprouter”. I bought mine from Bunnings for just under $20 but have also seen them around at department stores like Big W. Here is a quick video I took of the sprouter when I had alfalfa, wheatgrass and broccoli growing in it, but just after I had harvested mung beans also.

So apart from the benefits mentioned in this video, they also pay themselves off very fast. Here is the mathematics of buying and using these sprouters.

  1. The unit costs $20
  2. Seed packets cost $4.50 each
  3. Each seed packet (alfalfa/mung beans etc) will make about 6 trays of sprouts.
  4. Its a bit difficult to perfectly measure this given variable prices etc, but I think each tray will produce a minimum of $1.50 worth of produce (alfalfa) and up to $3.50 with some of the other types of sprouts and herbs. This is using prices at supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles.
  5. If we say the average tray then produces just $2.00 worth of produce, the average seed packet will produce $12.00 worth of sprouts.
  6. This means that when you are in your 3rd packet of seeds, the produce you have grown will have paid off the sprouter and the seeds you have paid for. IE. You will have produced about $36 worth of sprouts if you had purchased them at the supermarket, yet the sprouter and three seed packets would only have cost you $33.50

Thats pretty good and fast value if you ask me. If you schedule your seeding too as explained in the video, you would have achieved this payoff within a month of buying the goods – and you’d be saving money every time you use the sprouter after that.

If you really want value too – you can then look around at places to buy seeds in bulk. The $4.50 seed packets are nicely packaged and rather costly for the amount of seeds in them – just by nature of being convenient for us. I have seen some online retailers selling sprout seeds in bulk, like in 1kg parcels. I will hunt around and find some shops that do this and let you know where they are.

If you want to buy one of these but don’t really have time to get down to a department or hardware store, I have found this one on Amazon which is really similar to the Mr Fothergill’s one and a bit cheaper. I do recommend everyone gets one of these for their homes though. They are fun and give you a daily hit of fresh produce.


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My Backyard Vertical Garden

Hanging Pot Solution

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about setting up my vertical garden commenting about how expensive the hanging pots sets are for my trellis wall. Over the couple of weeks following that post, I did some research and shopping around and have found a solution that is much more flexible and also more cost effective.

The video below runs through the solution I found

The financials of this solution are:

  1. A set of 3 pre-made hanging pots of this variety will cost you over $60. You will have 3 pots about 5 cms apart, one above the other. There will be a frame behind them though holding it all together, so its still a good solution if you don’t already have a frame on the wall. This is our benchmark.
  2. Each of the pots used in the video costs less than $13. So three are maximum $39
  3. A pair of those hooks were less than $2.50, so three sets cost a maximum of $7.50
  4. Total 3 pot set comes to less than $46.50, a saving of around $15 – or 25%

(Note: this video was filmed early 2014 – prices will vary as time goes on, but I hope the savings will stay similar)

This isn’t a massive savings, however a few of points on this:

  • Urban gardening is about using what you have as efficiently as you can. It pays to get into the habit of being thrifty with space, your time and money
  • If I wanted to fill the wall with these pots, I could get at least 10 sets of 3. That makes the savings minimum $150. Now that is worth thinking about.
  • Also, think of how many seeds you can buy just from the $15 savings

An additional benefit of this set up is that I have much more flexibility. I don’t need to stack my pots in sets of three one above the other. This will make for a much more aesthetically pleasing vertical garden.

The Backyard In Australia

Backyard gardening in Australia can be quite challenging, especially if you want to have a native or organic garden. There are many reasons why this is so. Here are some of them

Australia’s Size

Australia is a pretty large piece of land. It covers a bout 4000 kms from east to west and when you look south to north, its not much shorter. We have the Tropic of Capricorn running through the country, we have deserts, rainforests, mountains and normal regular areas. We have just about every landscape and climate on the planet. What this means is that the plants that work well in your backyard are likely very different to the plants that work well in my backyard. So you need to understand what works well in your area, given the weather and conditions that your plants will have to cope with.

You should do some homework – understand what is going on. That way if you want plants that are not 100% suited to your backyard, you can take appropriate action to give them the maximum chance of thriving.

Australia’s Plant Diversity

This is particularly a challenge if you want to create a native backyard. Plants are not really native to Australia – they are native to your suburb within Australia. So someone creating a native garden in Queensland will have a very different garden to someone creating a native garden in Victoria. If you want to use native plants in your backyard but are not sure where to start, I’d try the website of your local council – they usually have an interest or program in bringing “native” back into the region and have great resources on the topic.

Australia’s Harsh Climate

Lets face it, the climates across Australia are pretty harsh. If we are not being threatened of losing everything in a flood or bushfire, we are probably experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. Most places in Australia now have permanent water restrictions of some form. We need to be resourceful not only in our gardening, but also in collecting and preserving the bare necessities for the garden. Soil and water.

All these things though I think actually work in our favor. They give us pause to think about what we really are doing. If we use that pause well, we end up with a sustainable backyard garden that ends up being beautiful, bountiful and leaves the land in better shape than before we started. Now that’s pretty cool isn’t it!