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How to grow your own vegan food

Valued Contributor

Difficulty: Intermediate

It’s becoming increasingly popular to embrace a vegan diet. Vegans eat an entirely plant-based diet and avoid any animal products or by-products.


Vegan-friendly gardening utilises plant-based composts, seaweed extracts, rock minerals and man-made fertilisers as nutrient sources for healthy plant growth. This should not be confused with organic gardening, which is at the opposite end of the horticultural spectrum and relies on plant, animal and fish by-products (excluding all man-made fertilisers and soil improvers).   


Organic fruit, vegetables and herbs are reasonably easy to find in most markets and retailers. However, you will rarely see produce marked as “vegan-friendly”. This guide shows you how you can grow your own.


Step 1

Starting a vegan-friendly vegie patch or home orchard from scratch? If you know animal-based fertilisers or soil improvers have been used on the property previously, you may prefer to grow in pots, tubs or new raised beds or vegie boxes for a couple of years until residues have disappeared.  Use a premium quality potting mix free from animal by-products.


Garden soil that hasn’t been used for food production in the past three or four years should be fine. It’s safe to assume there will be no animal or fish by-products present.


1.1 Premium potting mix.jpg  1.2 Always read product labels carefully.jpg

Step 2

In the garden, good preparation is the key to success. Dig the plot over to a depth of at least 300mm. Break up any large clumps and remove rocks and debris. Add gypsum to help break up heavy clay and/or lime to sweeten very acidic soils (pH lower than 4.5) allowing watering or rain to wash them into the soil.


Spread a 100mm layer of plant-based compost over the surface and fork it in thoroughly before adding a complete fertiliser and rock minerals.


Leave the soil to stabilise for a couple of weeks, removing weeds by hand as they appear.  Keep it moist (but not wet) by watering if it doesn’t rain.


2.1 Spread a 100mm layer of compost before fertiliser.jpg  2.2  Leave the soil to stablise for a couple of weeks after fertilising.jpg

Step 3

Sow seeds or plant seedlings into either your pots, vegie box or a prepared vegie patch. Water in seedlings with a weak seaweed solution to help them overcome transplant shock.


Protect your plants from snails and slugs by spreading spent coffee grounds or copper nails around young plants. These pests will avoid direct contact with either without being harmed.


3.1 Sow seeds or plant seedlings.jpg

Step 4

Strong, healthy plants are able to resist pests better than those struggling to find nutrients.


When seedlings are about 200ml tall, give them a boost with a liquid fertiliser that’s easily taken up the roots.  Repeat every 3-4 weeks to keep them growing strongly, until they’re ready to harvest.


Keep weeds down by hoeing, hand pulling and mulching.


Some caterpillars and flying pests can wreak havoc in a vegie and herb garden if they are not controlled or kept at bay. Netting the garden, box or pots will prevent larger flying pests from laying eggs on or chewing your plants. The mesh should be fine enough to exclude them while still allowing pollinating insects through. You may need to remove the netting when your crops begin to flower so pollinators have access.


Traditional pest control methods, including sticky traps, bacterial insecticides and horticultural oils are not vegan-friendly because they kill insects and molluscs.


4.1 Netting can help prevent pest damage.jpg

Step 5

Be prepared for highs and lows. It is inevitable you may lose some crops in your first couple of seasons to pests and possibly diseases. After harvesting and enjoying your first few crops, you should have built a small but ever-expanding knowledge bank that will help you modify your growing program to achieve the best possible outcomes from your vegan-friendly garden.


5.1 Be prepared for highs and lows.jpg  5.2 Keep modifying your growing program.jpg


  • Hand-made and/or plant-based compost

  • Rock minerals

  • Seaweed plant and soil tonics

  • Premium quality potting mixes *

  • Premium soil improvers *

  • Gypsum

  • Garden lime

  • Complete, all purpose or specialised fertilisers *


* Always read labels on products carefully. Check the lists of ingredients and ingredient icons for mention of animal/fish by-products. Do not include mushroom compost in a vegan-friendly garden unless the packaging states free of animal by-products including stable manure.


  • Gardening gloves

  • Spade

  • Fork

  • Soil rake

  • Hoe

  • Hand trowel and fork

  • Wheelbarrow

  • Soil sieve

  • Watering can or hose with trigger nozzle


1.1 Premium potting mix.jpg

1.2 Always read product labels carefully.jpg

2.1 Spread a 100mm layer of compost before fertiliser.jpg

2.2  Leave the soil to stablise for a couple of weeks after fertilising.jpg

3.1 Sow seeds or plant seedlings.jpg

4.1 Netting can help prevent pest damage.jpg

5.1 Be prepared for highs and lows.jpg

5.2 Keep modifying your growing program.jpg

9 Replies

Amazing tips and ideas! I like the one with coffee grains! It is safe for the plants and for the snails and slugs.


Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Pilar8. It's great to have you join us and many thanks for jumping straight into the conversation.


Did you know that Bunning's cafes give away their used coffee grounds for free? If you ask at your local store's cafe during operating hours they will be more than happy to supply you with them for your garden. If they don't have any available right away then they will hold their next batch for you.


We look forward to hearing all about the projects you have going on around your own home and garden and encourage you to let us know if you ever need assistance with them or if you would like to share them with us. I trust you'll also find loads of inspiration for those projects from within the community as we have many creative members contributing their ideas here all the time.






I have recently planted in a mini greenhouse and according to advice once they have grown 2 times the size of the greenhouse they need to be planted. I have read through the top slides however as I am new to growing anything, I am going to be growing and replanting into raised beds (on wheels). Will I need to purchase anything other than the Osmocote (vegan) for replanting? Does the bottom soil need to be different from the topsoil for draining purposes or will the Osmocote be okay on its own?


Thanks in advance.

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Cindy84. It's fantastic to have you join us, and many thanks for your question on raised bed drainage.


It's always best to have something in the base of a garden bed to assist with drainage. What type of drainage holes are in your beds? In one of @Noelle's other articles on filling raised garden beds, she suggests using screenings or aggregate and then cover that with drainage matting. You'll then be able to fill your raised garden bed with Scotts Osmocote 25L Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Premium Potting Mix, confident in the knowledge that you'll have adequate drainage.


Once you've filled your bed with the potting mix, you'll be able to use the Yates 2kg Vegan Fertiliser to feed your plants.


Please let me know if you have any questions.




Budding Browser

Is Scotts Osmocote Native Premium Potting Mix suitable for vegans?

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hello @BronzeCanary


Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community. Thank you for joining the discussion and sharing your question about the Scotts Osmocote Native Premium Potting Mix being suitable for vegans.


It's great that you've found @Noelle's guide handy and informative. I've just been in contact with Scotts Osmocote and I've been informed that the Scotts Osmocote 25L Native Premium Potting Mix does not contain any animal products. The keywords to watch out for are products with the words organic and natural. These products will have some form of animal product in them. It sounds like you are planning your own veggie garden. Any updates you can provide about your project would be much appreciated.


If you need more advice and information, please let us know.




Budding Contributor

To date i have not seen a bunnings or otherwise product that is animal free. i have rung all the suppliers of all the potting mixes and either they say i dont know or they confirm there is an animal by product or animal body parts in them. please dont buy stuff in bags. also keep in mind that the vegan fertisliser is heavily synthetic. there are other ways to fertilise. i can put bunnings onto people that do veganic gardening if you want to teach that system as synthetic products atre what is polluting the planet. something might be vegan but in the end things that go into waterways kill some animals

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @rapattack,


We stock several potting mixes free from animal ingredients, including the entire range of Osmocote potting mixes, but excluding the Plus organics products. They use chemical fertilisers instead of animal products and would be considered suitable for growing vegan-friendly food. If there was a particular product/s that you need more information on I'd be happy to assist.


It sounds like you are interested in vegan-organic gardening, and we'd be thrilled to hear about the methods you've found successful.


Please let me know if you have any questions.




Budding Contributor

Sorry but no i disagree. i dont think you have grilled the manufacturers which i have. they have either animal poo or animal body parts in them. when a potting mix says it has fertiliser that is either poo or animal bodies. the synthetic product i am pretty sure i mentioned is ok but it is not organic. for organic certification there is not synthetic substances. fine for people that dont mind that but it is not very environmental. also veganism is not a diet. plant based is a diet. so to clarify the manufacturers that said they dont know if the products they make are 'animal free' it was because they source from so many places then mix ingredients. they didnt have a good process to say either way. this means to me if they cant guarantee and i have tried for many years(i am an ex commercial farmer) then i presume it will have animal bodies or poo in it. it makes sense that it is easier to include them rather than not. i am a veganic grower right now. not commercially. just back yard gardener and i help run a community garden. this website has some information . i am experimenting with many products right now. i just bought alfalfa meal as many people on a facebook veganic growing page told me how good it is. i also use used coffee grounds especially for flowering and fruiting plants(not natives). i mix my own soils because bagged soils have too many contaminants. i was using coir peat but they irradiate the coconut fibre. i would like to use more minerals but no one seems to sell smaller amount of that. i compost as well(i got a compost tumbler from bunnings). i use charcoal i bought from bunnings on the roses. they love that. i have used so many things its hard to list it all

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