Vege Garden 2.0 Update

Remember my brief garden update last month?

Well, three weekends ago, things got serious!

First, we filled up our van with all the tree hackings and went to the tip – we dropped it all off in the green area for a reduced fee, yay!

Then we zoomed out to Mitre 10 Mega, or as Nerdy Hubby refers to it: The Mega Man Store, and bought 16 (yes: SIXTEEN!) Macrocarpa sleepers.

Vans are awesome!

They smelled fantastic, the sleepers, not the van. The van smells like mountain biking! 😉

Macrocarpa is an ecologically NZ grown hardwood naturally resistant to rot, fungus and insect attack so requires no chemical treatment.

A popular cheaper alternative is H4 treated pine, however it can potentially leach the treatment chemicals (CCA – Chromated copper arsenate < how nasty does that sound?!) into the soil and therefore your plants.

If you do go for the cheaper option of a treated timber you could line the inside of your beds with polythene sheeting.

Once we got the sleepers home we stacked them in the garage to dry out (which made the garage smell fantastic too!) and got to work.

So this is the “before shot” – Last years herbs have been going nuts in the old crusty bed that was existing when we bought the house.

This is the perfect position for a vege garden, on the south side of our section, it gets a lot of sun, is close to the kitchen door and the fences provide as much wind sheltering as is possible in Wellington.

Step one: Destroy the old raised bed. With Demolition Hubby’s help it did not take long:

We spread the dirt left behind over the area to flatten out a few dips.

Don’t worry, I saved last year’s strawberries!

You might be able to tell from the pictures that the section slopes down to the corner. I originally intended to just build 1 level of sleepers and plop them straight down on the ground and fill them with dirt but I was overruled by Surveyor Hubby.

“No, that will look sh*t. We’ll build them two sleepers high and dig them in level.”

So I marked out my beds with string and we began by digging a trench:

The initial plan was to get both beds built and in on Saturday and then on Sunday we would fill them with dirt and plants. However as we began to level one side for the first bed we discovered a little knob of concrete. Thinking that is was just a little bit of run off from when they poured the concrete path we ignored it until it prevented us from levelling the beds.

If I wanted a proper job it would have to be dug out. How big could it be?

So we dug, and dug, and dug…and DUG!

And dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug and dug!

You get the point…

The small bit of concrete turned out to be a huge chunk, roughly ‘T’ shaped, it was not connected to the concrete path at all and had a short length of timber post through it.

We dug all around it and underneath as much as possible hoping to extract it easily but a combination of wet clay and sheer weight of the block was against us. Just as we were thinking of giving up we thought we saw it move, just a tiny bit!

Out came a heavy chain but we needed more oompf – physics came to our rescue, fulcrums and levers in the form of a spare wheel and one of the macrocarpa sleepers!

It took a ridiculous amount of effort but eventually it was free!

Exhausted Hubby estimated the weight at about 70kgs. We have no idea why it was buried under our lawn but the aggregate looks contemporary with the path and retaining walls on our section. Perhaps this area was once terraced and this is all that was left after they smoothed it off? Or, while setting up the section for construction, did someone misread a plan and make a boo boo and then bury their mistake?

After that effort we were stuffed, Exhausted Hubby announced there would be no more garden work that weekend and I had to agree. With rain forecast for the week we filled back in our big hole and collapsed inside.

On Sunday I ached EVERYWHERE. I did manage to plant some seeds though – my beans have already made an appearance.

We took the following weekend off and instead I cleaned and relocated the empty Darlek compost bins away from the house and set up the first one to begin compost making again.

Last weekend we got back into it starting with re-marking and digging the trench for the first bed. Astute Hubby appropriated a digital level from work which helped to get the first tier of sleepers more or less flat.

After checking the fit and levelness (that’s totally a word) we assembled it on the grass with long self tapping screws. The longest angled side needed one join (an off-cut from the shortest side) which we secured using a nail plate.

Dropped into its final location you can see why we needed to assemble on the grass. The right hand corner is at the highest part of the section and therefore almost completely underground while the far left corner sits on the grass and is completely exposed.

We built the second tier straight on top of the first and secured them together with more nail plates.

TADAH!

That was it for Saturday, I didn’t even want to think about the second bed – plus I now had an accurate view of just how huge this first bed was. I decided I would spend Sunday filling it with dirt and plants and the second bed could wait for another weekend.

On Sunday I started by filling in around the sleepers and compacting down the dirt on the outside. Then we took the handy van out for compost, lot’s and lot’s of compost…16 x 40L bags! I also grabbed some seedlings and a few shrubs and we headed home.

There’s not a lot say about filling a big hole with dirt, you just kind of do it. Adding the plants was much more fun!

The strawberries are at the smaller end so that later I can add a cover to protect them from the thieving birds. Herbs (thyme, coriander and basil) at the “front” near the path for easy regular harvest when I am cooking. Tomatoes are at the back so they can gain a little bit of protection from the wind. I will add stakes this weekend, waratahs this time since the bamboo I used last year wasn’t strong enough.

In the centre I have planted the seeds that did well for me last year: carrots, spinach and pak choi and I have some room left over.

Yum!

The placement of the first bed left a larger triangle of ground than I expected. This is good, I can plant larger edible shrubs, I removed the grass and did just that.

So far I have a bay leaf bush, cranberries and a rosemary that was previously potted so looks a little stunted. I’ll add more to this eventually and, after bed #2 is constructed, I will plant lemon and lime trees at the opposite end.

So that’s it. All the seedlings are looking a little sad right now, the rain forecast for earlier this week did not eventuate so I’ve had to hand water in the evenings.

As things get more exciting I’ll keep you updated 🙂

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19 thoughts on “Vege Garden 2.0 Update

  1. Looking good!

    This Winter I’ll need to make some plans for our garden too, our maple tree died last winter and the bed it was in is rather empty with only a small magnolia tree left. I have some herbs in pots as well and they are great fun!

    Keep sharing as your garden evolves, it’s really inspiring!

    • I kind of switched off my garden last winter, just because it had outgrown the tiny bend I started with, I’ll have to work hard to keep the interest during next winter, it’s hard when it’s so dark all the time 🙂 Will keep you updated, definitely xx

  2. Wow this is epic!
    I was all excited about creating a veggie garden out of 4 raised beds.
    We literally bought the colour bond ones, screwed them together put all the soil and stuff in and planted. So we took the easy option.
    Can’t wait to see your harvest!

  3. I am sooo impressed at all that hard work, and the raised bed looks great. Good luck with the carrots – I’d be interested in your secret if you succeed as I have failed for three years running with carrots

  4. That’s lovely! I love the buried mistake, it’s hilarious. I would love a nice size garden like that but it would take up my whole backyard. I thought about doing some gardening on the roof of my garage, but my partner told me it probably can’t take the weight 😦
    Good luck with your veggies!

  5. That’s what I miss most since moving to an apartment. Gardening… We’re going to set up a vege-garden on our patio, but it really just isn’t the same as yours. It looks great and sounds delicious!

  6. We woke up last Monday and by the afternoon we too had a veggie garden in our backyard. Not so organised as yours… but we have peas, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, capsicum, parsley, basil and cucumber in ours… we had 17 bags of soil in my little car (in 2 goes).

    If this one goes well, hubbie wants to put in more beds.

    Tip: water in the morning not the evening. They are more susceptible to diseases if you water them in the evening.

    Stephanie

    • Thanks for the tip Stephanie, I have switched to watering them before breakfast, it’s actually nice and soothing to get up in the morning and water the garden 🙂

      This bed is full now, bed number too coming soon! 😀

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