‘Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.’ ~Lindley Karstens
If you happened to have missed me these last few weeks, I’m about to show you what I have been up to.
Usually, I write during the day. But our spring weather has just been so lovely, it’s otherwise difficult to be at one’s computer when the outdoors beckons. My housework and writing have suffered as I have been working to get my new front raised beds planted to take advantage of the spring season. It tried writing in the evenings, but instead, fell into bed, exhausted and spent.
I used to hate driving up to my house. Or even inviting people over for a visit.
That’s because it looked like this….
Husband drew up a plan to put in raised beds and make the area into a large veggie patch.
I am almost embarrassed to admit how I wasn’t really keen on the idea at first. Peer pressure for a pristine front lawn almost had me concede to an extravaganza of astroturf. Frankly, some of the veggie patches I have seen look a bit feral or unorganised and I wanted my front garden to have awesome street appeal. It would have to be formal or at the very least, neat, tidy, practical and symmetrical.
As I’m not very spatially gifted, Husband plotted out his plan for me to see with bamboo stakes and string, to give me a better idea of what was possible.
I was convinced. And then, I wanted it done yesterday.
But first, there was a bit of preparation to do. Quite a bit. Rather a lot, actually.
Some palm trees had to go. A look up and down my street seemed to reveal that the palm tree was THE landscaping tree of choice in the late 80′s, as if our town planners had a vision to create an Aussie “Miami Vice”. But since our palms couldn’t really decide if they were going to live or die, we removed them to make way for a raised bed. The large peppermint tree at the top of the garden would stay, providing invaluable shade for the hot summer months and buffer the wind.
Then the area needed to be levelled and generally tidied up. Husband got to play on a little front-end loader (we call them Dingo’s here in Oz) for the entire day wearing protective headphones. Lucky bugger. We (Husband) filled a skip with rubble and excess sand.
Once that was done, it was time to construct the beds themselves. We debated for a while over what to build them out of.
Brick? Too fiddly.
Limestone blocks? Too heavy.
Prefabricated Colourbond? Too pricey.
Jarrah sleepers? Termites.
Treated pine? Hello, arsenic!
So with all those contraints taken into account, we decided on Formply. It can be painted, won’t rot, won’t leech toxins, can be cut into any shape we wanted and most importantly, would be kind to Husband’s car-crashed back.
Here is the first one, ready to be placed.
We (Husband) constructed another dozen or so beds and they were fitted in place.
Next, it was time to fill them with soil. As I have previously
wailed complained, my soil is actually sand. So mixed a clay based product into the sand before layering them with a few layers of mushroom compost & over 40 bales of pea hay. For a few weeks, 4 cubic metres of mushroom compost funked up my verge, until finally, it was all done. Planting could begin.
Lastly, we (Husband) pinned weed-mat over the remaining sandy pathways to help kill any persistant couch, and to keep the planned cracked gravel pathways from sinking into the sandy soil. Four large tailer loads of gravel later (thanks Dad!) and TA DA!!!!
So once where my front yard was a patch of reluctant grass invaded by grimace-inducing prickles, it is now like having a fresh produce store on my doorstep.
Here is a list of what is currently growing in the new raised beds; all are open pollenated or heirloom varieties. (in no particular order)
Carrot – Atomic Red, Chanteray, Cosmic Purple, Purple Dragon, All season, Lobbericher Yellow, St Valery
Tomato – Granny’s Throwing, Ananas Noir, Mortgage Lifter, Green Zebra, Tommy Toe, Red Fig, Black Cherry, Tigerella, Amish Paste, Black Russian, Wapsipinicon Peach
Beans – Westralia, Purple, Epicure, Kentucky, Scarlett Runner, Winged Bean and Snake Bean
Eggplant – Lebanese, Thai Green Pea, Thai Purple Pea, Red Ball
Capsicum – Mixed Mini Coloured, Red Mama, Chocolate
Chilli - Jalapeño, Big Jim, Santa Fe
Basil – Purple, Genovese and Thai
Sunflower – Russian Giant and Giant Single
Tomatillos – Purple, Verde
Beetroot - Sugar-beet, Cylindria, Burpees Golden, Gourmet Mini
Potatoes – Dutch cream
Corn- Aztec Coloured
Artichoke – Globe, Purple
Asparagus – Fat Bastard, Sweet Purple
Other Edible Flowers – English Lavender, Borage, Calendula, Nigella, Nasturtium, Poppy
So all up about, 60 different varieties That even surprises me! There are still the melons, pumpkins, amaranth and a few more bits and pieces to plant. There is so much area to cover, I don’t expect the planting will ever be really “finished”!
Phew! With that thought in mind, I think I’m ready for another nap now…
I would love to know what you think! Please leave me a comment below….