How to plant a green smoothie bed

  • In wintertime when colds and flu are more prevalent, having a single garden bed or designated area, full of vegetables you can make into a green smoothie, makes a lot of sense.
  • Green smoothies are blended, as opposed to juiced. We suggest you make your green smoothie neat ie blending it with filtered water or coconut water and not adding fruit or juice. It’s definitely a tonic, as opposed to a delicious drink, so you don’t need much, but you’ll be amazed how good you feel if you drink it regularly.
  • The key to making a powerful green smoothie is growing the veges in nutrient-dense soil.
  • To avoid soil compacting or getting boggy with winter rains, it’s best if your garden bed is raised and has compost added to the soil.
  • After adding compost, lightly sprinkle the soil with volcanic rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser) which contains 70 minerals. With a fork or spade, gently mix it all in.
  • Plant your smallest plant at the northern end of the bed, so as to maximise availability of sunlight.
  • Rob starts the bed with plantago, which is the vegetable form of the weed plantain. It has crunchy leaves which are best harvested when young. They taste a bit like parsley, spinach or kale, but sweeter and nuttier. Space the plants about 15 cms apart.
  • The next vege is celery which adds a lot of juice to a green smoothie. Conventionally-grown celery is one of the most sprayed vegetables, so it’s worth your while growing it yourself. Space plants at least 30 cms apart to create good air circulation. This helps keep fungal diseases, like rust, at bay.
  • Then we plant kale and because the white butterfly is still flying we’ll take a couple of extra precautions. Firstly, we add sheep pellets laced with neem oil into the planting holes. Neem oil repels the white butterfly which attacks brassicas in the warmer months. The seedling takes up the neem in its roots systemically and it lasts for about 5-6 weeks. By that stage your plant will be sufficiently big and strong to withstand pests. Pests and diseases attack weak plants. Secondly, after watering the plants in, Rob sprays the kale with an organic caterpillar spray. The active ingredient in this product is Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) which is a naturally occurring soil bacterium. When ingested by the larvae or caterpillars it produces a toxin that’s lethal. In the acid guts of other animals it’s destroyed and is therefore totally harmless. Btk also has no withholding period on crops. Add ¼ teaspoon to a litre of water.
  • Perpetual spinach is the next vegetable. Use Perpetual rather than the regular English spinach because an English spinach crop is over in about 6 weeks, and the veges we’re planting in this bed will take you all through winter.
  • Finally we plant collards, also known as Dalmatian cabbages or simply ‘greens’ in Britain and the US. It’s a cabbage that doesn’t heart so you can pick the leaves off singly like you would with a lettuce. Collards are more nutrient-dense than even kale so is a worthwhile addition to our Green Smoothie bed. The plants grow large so make sure you space them out well. Plant as for kale with sheep pellets laced with neem oil in the planting hole, and spray with BT after watering in.
  • After planting up the bed, spread a good dose of nitrogen in the form of animal manure (chicken poo or sheep pellets) round the plants, taking care you don’t lay it too close to the stems which could be burned. Give the celery plants an extra handful or two as they’re particularly gross feeders.
  • Water plants in well to bed in the plants and release the neem oil under the brassicas. At this stage as mentioned, spray the brassicas.
  • Finally put hoops over the garden, lay netting over them and peg down firmly. Netting will keep some of the white butterflies out and it’ll give you a fighting a chance against rabbits and pukekos!


Camera: Lachlan Justice
Editor: Nathalie Nasrallah
Camera equipment kindly loaned from the Department of Performing and Screen Arts, Unitec