Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The patch is in and planted!

Last weekend we cleared our veg patch. Digging out the last of the raised beds, pallet beds and failed pathways we installed a few years ago.

I have to say the raised beds were great in theory and planned (well the planting out of them at least). And would probably would have worked well in smaller area, but the size of these beds not only meant we needed to trample all over them to reach other parts or other beds. But it became impossible to hoe or strim them and weeding the paths became an extra task that we would occasionally get around too.

So the boards came up and we burned them on the patch, along with some other garden waste; grass clippings, palm leaves and branches etc. We had a little bit of a clear out of our ‘pest’ palms recently; these are not considered native and were planted by the previous owners, most too close to the house or power lines. We also gave the neighbours over hanging trees a little bit of a trim too.

The garden was then weeded out and the soil turned over and evened out; by hand as the rotary hoe had a ‘technical issue’; the primer hoses had disintegrated whilst in storage… *Note to self, ensure there is absolutely no petrol left in it before we put it away.

Even in the rain, we finished the bed by fencing it off and fitting the gate- to make our access easy- lesson learned from last time. The fencing is mostly to keep the chickens off our seeds/seedlings, though for that afternoon we allowed them to pillage- as there were substantial grubs that were not wanted! And they would turn and break up the soil that bit more.

We did leave the ‘pumpkin patch’ (though downsized) was left outside the fenced section- as it is well established (feeding the ‘Cub’ well) and we wanted to keep it from taking over. 

And the other vines have been placed in rows of trellises- low to begin with. However I do have potential plans to add to them and create arches or over head trellising if necessary. Hopefully they will make an attractive feature, as well as a practical means of harvesting.

So prepped and ready for this year’s seedlings and seeds, this week they went in.
Sugar snap peas
Capscicum (Peppers)
Zucchini (Courgette)- seeds only at this stage
Carrots (seeds again)
Spring onions
Asian veg
Still have a few more seeds to go in gradually. And a few more herbs for the herb patch and shrubs for the fenceline (rosellas and a curry leaf tree).

Having experimented with raised beds, sister planting and square-foot gardening, we have decided that whilst rows are probably not he most effective use of space. Space isn’t something our garden is short of. And if the garden or paths are riddled with weeds then that is not an effective use of space either.

We have still opted for companion planting; planting those close together that are mutually beneficial (and avoiding those that don’t). But we have done so in rows, allowing space to hoe (and access). We have also planted in sections, with successive crops; planning for continued growth and hopefully consistent supply; as opposed to gut and nothing. 

The timing of these preparations seems especially apt this year. Whilst the preparing of garden beds are often synonymous of the early months for many in the northern hemisphere. New beginnings and therefore new life is often symbolic of spring in many cultures, here (in tropical Queensland) the most bountiful growing/ planting season is autumn and winter. (So yes we are a little late!)

However for us (me in particular) this year’s clearing out and fresh start or new beginning, to our sad and neglected veg patch (especially of late with our newest addition and the unbearable tropical heat) had many motivations and was especially emotional.

For one, our ‘Cub’. Although we have always been conscious about the source of our food and the pride in producing a meal for someone (or yourself) made from your produce. But having a young child you become really conscientious about what they consume; wanting to give them the best you can.

Gardening with a baby does raise its own challenges- especially here as we are constantly aware of her exposure to the sun (and heat). So the cooler, damper conditions and an unusually long morning nap were gratefully appreciated. Although she did ‘help out’ for some of it, as we want her to grow up with the knowledge and an appreciation of where food comes from and what is involved.

I am also excited to get a few fast flourishing seedlings in to kick start our produce, as we have visitors coming in 2 months, so perfect timing! And I can not wait to get in the garden with my nephew.

The other reason being more retrospective and reflective. Many know that for myself, my grandfather has been a major influence; especially in terms of undertaking this lifestyle. Most of my fondest childhood memories are spending time with my grandparents at their home and their massive garden; transplanting seedlings into grow bags each year and carrying them to the greenhouse. To this day I still do not understand why we didn’t carry the bag there then transplant them! And I still love the smell of tomato plants, despite not actually liking the raw fruit.

Picking and washing beans for Sunday dinner, or helping him pick elderflowers and elderberries from their enormous tree; so he could make wine each year.

I guess his pride in the results of a ‘good days work’ and in providing for his loved ones not only rubbed off on me. But was infectious and was instilled into me. I beamed with pride when I helped him as a child, and I beam when I continue this with our place now. So for me this fresh start for our patch, and my (our) renewed commitment to our veg patch and providing for our loved ones (family) is an ode to him. And a means for me to feel close (following his passing earlier this year)


So be prepared for many veg updates and brags in the coming future.


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