Category Archives: garden

Garden envy and the beginnings of our own

I keep seeing people’s beautiful and productive gardens and getting garden envy.  Thursday and Friday were big gardening days for me and I am proud of the work that I’ve done (and all my good little plants) but I can’t help but want more, now. Still, one step at a time and, as it turns out, one heavy wheelbarrow of clay soil at a time.

Until now I’ve only ever created gardens in rental houses. These are always limited to what you can convince the owners to let you do or what you can take down when you inevitably move. This time however I have ample space and no landlord and I want to try and produce the majority of our vegetables each year. Fruit as well, although fruit trees are a much longer term investment.

So far the only thing stopping me is having the time (and money) to make the beds. We’ve managed so far to save heaps of money by constructing garden beds from the logs of trees we’ve felled. We scavanged  fencing materials from the tip and neighbours and I constructed a netted dome out of polypipe off cuts and old bird netting to keep out mice and rats (and hopefully cabbage moth in the spring). Eventually there will be many more beds and the whole lot will be fenced properly.

So far we’ve only spent money on soil improvement and seeds. To each wheel barrrow of  our very clayey soil I’ve added gypsum, lime and cow manure. The gypsum is to improve the soil structure and hopefully make certain elements more accessible to plants. The lime to reduce acidity and cow manure for nitrogen and to encourage beneficial soil microbes. That’s the plan anyway.   I dream of getting a professional soil test done to really know the limitations or important needed additions. Our worms are starting to churn out  castings which will be wonderful for improving our soil.

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Humble beginnings

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Expansion
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Starting to produce food now

To help with  the goal of producing most of our veg all year round I’ve taken Asphyxia’s advice about construting a 12mth gardening plan based on the lunar calander. Asphyxia writes for grass roots magazine (and blogs here). She is ridicuously organised and manages to meet most of her family’s subsistence needs from a small suburban block in Melbourne.  Not only do I have garden envy – I have organisational skills envy.

I struggled initially to work out a structure that worked for me for a garden plan. As it stands I’ve grouped plants by type (i.e. root vegetable, fruiting plant, plants in which leaves are eaten) as this coincides with the categories for lunar planting. I’ve worked out what my core plantings will be for each category (i.e. plants that will be sown at least once every month of the year) and then just noted monthly additions for seasonal crops. I then picked a date that works with the moon to sow each category. Some things I’m sowing straight into the bed others into seedling trays. Sowing into trays saves garden space and means that seedlings can be coddled (shaded in summer, kept frost free in winter) and the growing season extended.  They also look awesome with coloured markers saying what they are and when they were sown!

July's planting

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living in the rainy forest

So it’s supposed to be our dry season here but we’ve just come out of a few solid days of rain. I’m talking over 200ml in 3 days.

When you don’t have much roof space things get a little damp in weather like that and if you have very little lawn and very clayey soils things get a little muddy. If you live on solar (so no washing machine on cloudy days and absolutely no dryer, ever,) things stay damp and muddy.

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Multiply this by 3 kids under 9 (we’ve had J’s brother visiting) in a very small house and you’ll know why i was soooo happy to see the sun (briefly) this afternoon.

But it was nice to see the creek pumping in full force and to get a good idea of how surface water behaves on our block.

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It was also awesome to have J’s bro (and family) here. They brought many cuttings, much enthusiasm and about 2000 worms! The worms are currently living in an old polystyrene box until we get our hands on one of these retro kits and convert an old olive tub into a worm habitat.

You can see the worms in the white box in this photo as well as some of the olive tubs which we converted into compost tumblers (using only hand tools). The plantings in the front are comfrey and arrowroot. Oh, and check out the wattle and daub (minus the daub) fence J built for free with some privet (a weed) we took out.

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