Glorious rain

It’s been raining all week here, and the garden is loving it. It’s been two and a half weeks since I planted up the veggie beds, and all of my seeds have sprouted, so it seems like a good time to document what I’ve got growing in there.

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Now the fun begins

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After so much planning and hard work, the garden is finally all in place. The beds are all up and planted. We’ve also added some dwarf trees along the fence – a Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Moorpark apricot and Goldmine nectarine. They’re interplanted with a Jostaberry, rhubarb, nasturtium and a Cape gooseberry I grew from some seed from my mother-in-law’s backyard. I’ve also planted ginger, Vietnamese mint, garden mint and scented geraniums along the front of the studio, in a little bed that gets no direct sun but plenty of light.

The seedlings in the veggie beds are all looking healthy and strong. Lettuce, rocket, radish, carrot, spring onion, coriander, snowpea and broad bean seeds have all sprouted. The early garlic is in. Potatoes are in.

Now I just have to wait to start harvesting!

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But in the meantime there’ve been a few delicious things from the garden to keep me going. One of my two potato bags was a dismal failure, but the other was… okay. I think Melbourne summers are just too hot for potatoes – mine got frizzled several times. I’m going to try growing from early autumn instead. We’ve also had a handful of the most delicious raspberries – I wasn’t expecting any until next season, so it’s a nice surprise.

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The Sound of Worms

The wicking beds have one extra feature – each has its own mini worm farm.

 

I used a bunch of $4 bins from Kmart – I think they’re 5 litres. Drilled holes all round (so the worms can get in and out).

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Buried in the garden beds, and then filled with straw, damp shredded newspaper, and WORMS.

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Once they’ve had a day or two to settle in, I’ll start giving them finely chopped (or roughly blended) kitchen scraps. The plan is that the worm juice will fertilise the soil, and the brave worms will travel in and out of their little house, aerating the soil. photo 2-1

Building the wicking beds

At last! The garden beds are in. Three are fully planted up – we didn’t have *quite* enough soil to finish the fourth one, so we’ll finish that off this weekend, as well as planting the fruit trees. Stay tuned for Finished Garden Photos.

 

But in the meantime…

 

Here’s the plan I made. Most wicking beds are made using a gravel/scoria/pebble reservoir. I decided to go with drainage cells instead, after seeing them installed at my parents’ underground holiday house. They are lighter, easier to install, and turned out to be cheaper. The plastic liner I used is a thick industrial kind, thicker than pond liner and will stay completely inert in soil and water.

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The drainage is made from polypipe. I just went to Bunnings and sort of made it up.

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Here’s my Dad making sure everything is watertight. We bought the garden beds flat-packed from eBay. They’re 2.4 x 1 x 0.45, and there are four of them.

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Inlet inside the bed

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And out. The top bit is overflow, the bottom can be opened up to flush out the beds if necessary.

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Reservoir is created using drainage cells.

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Geotextile, so the soil doesn’t clog up the reservoir.

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Then the soil. Most of it was shovelled in by my husband and my mum. Both champions.

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Once the soil is done, the plastic and the geotextile are trimmed to size. A mini worm farm is added (more on that in a later post). Then the reservoir is filled up until it overflows. I’m topping it up every day at the moment, as it’ll take a while for the wicking to moisten the soil. I’m also hand watering, because the little seedlings aren’t big enough for their roots to reach the moist soil.

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All planted and mulched!

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Summer

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The studio is finished! Michael is moving in as I write this. We did all the finishing ourselves – painted and installed the bamboo floor. We’re really pleased with it. (for anyone who’s interested, these guys built it for us).

The garden, however, is far from finished. We’re waiting on someone to come and level out the soil and lay a path, then we can start to rehabilitate the lawn, and install the veggie gardens. We missed the summer crops, but all going well I should get everything in time for winter.

The heat hasn’t been good to my potted plants. I spent a few weeks shuffling pots into the shade on super-hot days, and then out into the sun once it cooled down a bit. Sometimes I was too late – I lost a few plants. Nearly lost my apricot tree, but managed to resuscitate it. Nothing’s gotten enough water. However, I have been getting a handful of tomatoes – lots of Green Zebra and Tommy Toe, and the occasional Wapsipinicon Peach. The Ananas Noir are currently ripening.

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The steady march of progress

The outside of the studio is all done, save a little painting, and the plasterer is busy on the inside.

Today I dug up a big mound of bricks from along the side fence, and used them to make a little temporary border, to mark out where the fruit trees will go. I’ve been applying liquid claybreaker pretty regularly, and everything does seem less solid. I then went a bit crazy and added rockdust, potash, compost and chook poo, scattered a few packets of green manure mix*, and gave it a good water with worm juice and seaweed. Hopefully the roots of the green manure will help to break up the hard soil. Once that’s grown and been dug in, I’ll dump more compost on to raise the soil level up by 15cm or so before planting the trees.

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I’m really pleased with our compost. We have a tumbler, and have been using it for about three months now. It’s lovely and crumbly and smells amazing.

*It’s a summer mix from Green Patch Organic Seeds, containing Mungbean, Sunflower and Millet.

Harvest Monday: Experimental Potatoes

Back in July, I found two wrinkly, sprouting potatoes at the back of our cupboard, leftover from a Ceres veggie box. Despite it being totally the wrong time of year to plant potatoes, I stuck them in a pot, covered them with soil, straw and manure, and then left them alone. They popped up very quickly, and were perfectly happy until most of them were destroyed by hail and wind. But a few bits of greenery survived, so I continued to leave them alone, until today.

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Eight big ones, eight medium ones, and 14 babby ones. We shall feast on potato salad tonight!

For more Harvest Monday goodness, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions.