In 2010 we first moved into our ramshackle farmhouse and set about transforming the garden (pushing out the yard boundary, pulling out the old fence, re-fencing, having about 20 cypress trees removed, re-sowing a massive amount of lawn, pulling out literally years and years of rubbish and rubble, planting several new trees, taming the neglected but established existing perennials, building new garden beds with rock edging…the list went on and on). We also built ‘Chateau le Chookie’, our palatial hen house, in a corner of the yard which we set aside for more utilitarian purposes – chooks, veggie patch and we had intended to put dog pens behind Chateau le Chookie…but now we don’t have working dogs. Bella, you don’t count. You bark and bark unless you are in your house by the back door, and even then I’m sure you would just as comfortably curl up inside in front of the fire…
So five years later, we thought it time to build some veggie beds like we originally intended! Better late than never. Previously I’d grown veggies in our main big garden bed, just because that’s what was available until our grand plan swung into action, but that main big garden bed I really want to start getting a cottage rambling garden. The grand plan for the veggie patch involved three raised beds on the lawn near the chooks, an area which got awfully waterlogged and squelchy in Winter. At first we had just timber raised beds envisioned, but crunching some numbers on cypress prices and spying a fair bit of random tin hiding behind the boys workshop up at the shed we quickly decided on a cypress/tin combination for the construction, making the bulk of our materials free/scavenged/recycled.
One miserably cold and windy day a few weekends ago Matt hired an auger to dig the post holes (after we had to reach for the crowbar recently to dig a small hole for a new tree we planted). Turns out it was well worth the $60 for the weekend to hire equipment, Matt would’ve been there for weeks otherwise. So, holes were dug, string lines were put up and upright posts assembled. Lucky we had our site supervisor on hand to keep a watchful eye over proceedings…
Then the tin was cut to length, dug into the ground slightly and the raised beds started to take shape. We had the issue that the ground was on a slope, so made the decision that the two beds running north/south would run with the fall of the land, whereas the one bed running east/west we made level.
The following weekend Matt put on the capping rails, the finishing touch to make it look really schmancy pants. Dirt to fill them up next! Lucky for us there’s some topsoil easily found if you know where to look around the farm (from nearby cultivated spud paddocks and coming off the grader in the packing shed). Several loads with the Manitou did the trick, we put some not so great stuff in the very bottoms though and this weekend we need to get some top notch soil to go in the very tops to finish off.
Now we will possibly oil the timber to just make it look a bit prettier, the finishing touch to our new veggie patch. Oh, and some veggies! I’m hoping I’m still just be in the nick of time for Winter planting: some broccoli, radishes, cabbages, spinach, beetroot…
Some have asked why we went with raised beds when our soil here is so delicious – glad you asked! Firstly, basic aesthetics. I’d love to tell you I was less shallow and more practical, but just the ‘look’ of a raised bed veggie garden gets me all sorts of excited. So there’s that – sheer prettiness factor. Secondly, the soggy lawn issue – we wanted the veggie patch to go there, but the drainage was going to be a worry, raised beds will (hopefully?) solve this problem. Thirdly, ease of tending to the beds – I am not 80 years old, no, but the general idea of a raised beds is for easy access and planting, harvesting, general digging about. And lastly – pest control! Rabbits are in plague proportions here at the moment, they are demolishing everything in sight, I’m afraid our future veggie seedlings won’t stand a chance against the bloody bunnies. Raised beds won’t save us from possum attack though, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…
I can’t wait to really get stuck into growing our own food, we have always dabbled – tomatoes here, silverbeet there, strawberries in pots and rambling pumpkins on the lawn…but now I’ve got such a dedicated space there are no more excuses! Now just to come up with a genius possum proofing plan…
Ock Du Spock says
Congratulations on your new beds. They look fantastic! I love raised beds (mine aren’t as tall as yours, but they do make things easier 🙂 Happy gardening!
Country at heart says
I look forward to reading the recipes of anything you make from your own produce. Yum! I wonder if you would eat any of your local “free range” rabbits? People say Rabbit is very tasty – I’ve never tried them? Looks like you will need a solid netting for possums who can get really fat and healthy eating your growing crop. I wonder if you are aware of the television show – River Cottage Australia? It is my favourite TV show. It seems that show is doing something very similar to yourself. Next you need a cow for milk, a movable tractor for chickens, even a few pigs in a pen and fruit trees (apples). Likely trading your skill & knowledge acquired with other families around Thorpy to gain these things, or in part. Gee, if you ever planted out about an acre of land you could almost make a living selling direct to restaurants and farmers markets. But one step at a time, you just never know where things can lead you, which is why life is so exciting.
Prue Cowley says
Oh just LOOK at your beautiful soil. Can’t wait to see what you guys produce. In our tiny suburban patch in Perth’s horrible sandy soil my husband manages to grow an amazing variety and abundance – it never ceases to amaze me how much you can get out of a relatively small area. You guys should have no trouble growing heaps of amazing stuff. Assuming the possums don’t get there first of course…!
You’re not learner gardeners obviously but my one piece of advice would be to save the seeds from your successful crops – it’s the best thing Blair has done because we end up with crops that are actually suited to our conditions.
Amy Paul says
They look fabulous, Em! Well done!