Our vegie patch has gone through many incarnations. I have spent a lot of time and energy feeding the soil with manure and mulch, while fighting weeds, and then I gave up. Initially I used a chook dome to create the beds. Then I decided to grow the vegies in raised rows, with deep mulch and manure between, in the trenches. I dug the soil using a little rotary hoe I had purchased on ebay. The weeds still overcame my efforts and the nutrients seemed to completely disappear from the soil, despite the vast quantities of goodies I was piling on! Then my other jobs became so overwhelming, that I pretty much gave up on the idea of a vegetable garden that would supply all our vegetable requirements for a family of five. It was so depressing not having many fresh vegies to pick, that we decided to try one more time. This time we chose to follow the square foot gardening method.
Below is the space where our vegetable garden resides. I originally used the chook dome, pictured, to create my gardens. I followed Linda Woodrow’s mandala methods, but the chickens were unable to scratch deep enough to keep the couch-type grasses at bay, as they send runners quite deep under the soil.
In an attempt to reclaim the space we employed some of our pigs to clear the garden. They are much better at digging deep to remove weeds. We used our Kombi to house them, as it can be driven to any location on the farm, which is very handy!
We then decided to turn a portion of this space into a square foot garden to see if this method might work for us here at Baringa Park. We used weed mat covered with pebbles between the beds.
This is at the start of Spring 2011.
Some of the more tender plants, such as tomatoes and capsicums required covers in case of frost.
Here is our Summer garden.
The garden, now it is Autumn
There are 8 beds. We will be tripling this number, once we have funds available, to expand the garden as we are very happy with the square foot method of gardening. The Autumn garden is a transition garden where we still have the last of the Summer vegetables ripening, such as eggplant, capsicums and chilli. We tend to grow leafy greens all year round such as lettuce, silverbeet and parsley.
This bed has a few remaining eggplants and a new planting of kale seedlings.
Here we have the last of the chillies ripening, and the capsicum, top left is a bed of carrots and top right a newly planted bed of broccoli and cabbage. You can see the template in the broccoli bed, which determines how far apart to plant the seedlings. This has been crucial for me as I am prone to over-crowding the beds.
A bed of greens with parsley and silverbeet. The lettuce have all been harvested.
A major factor in this type of gardening, is that we must become proficient at producing good quality compost. The beds are very shallow and the plants suck up all the nutrients provided. To date I have failed compost-making 101, despite my best efforts. I seem unable to get the correct ratios of carbon : nitrogen. In the past I have simply piled up ingredients, and allowed the free-ranging worms to do their thing over time. Now it has become important that we ‘get it right’! The husband has made a new compost bin and we are working compost-making into our already very busy schedule!