While I sit here in the slight chill of five o’clock afternoon mid August, swatting the mozzies (surely it’s not warm enough for them already), sipping champagne which sits stable on my newly “made with love” outdoor coffee table, I know I have found my “Happy Place”. The place I will go to in my mind during the rare chance at meditation (sans mosquitos), the place I will go to when things get me down, and the place I hope to be every afternoon once we move full time to the farm.
The veggie garden has had a few incarnations over the last three years and finally it is becoming the place I envisioned it to be. The crop circles which gave us an abundance of eggplant, tantrically entwined carrots, furnace hot rocket, and a pestsometimes known as mint, have now been transformed into the promise of veggies to come. I know if I look back to the previous Crop Circle Chapter I will get a total expenditure of the project, which of course I am avoiding as just last week I called the local landscaping supplier and ordered three cubic metres of organic potting mix to fill them. I am sure that done the right way with the proper preparation the “no dig” method of gardening works a treat. But we all know that is NOT me. Jump in without all the information, without considering the area, the light, the preparation etc and end up with a tub of plants falling over without sufficient soil to hold their roots, and a tub full of grass that has come through the sparse layer of newspaper and taken over and strangled any veggie that might have existed.
So failure admitted (apart from the eggplant), I physically pulled out all the runner grass and put it in the compost, shoveled out the decomposed mulch and deposited around various trees and plants, layered weed mat, and heaps of newspaper into the circles and started all over again.
I had done a rudimentary calculation of the amount of soil needed to fill the five circles and had come up with an estimate of eight cubic metres. Thankfully Benny worked out it needed more like two, and so I ordered three. The guy came with the truck and thanks to the new and improved gates we have at that end of the yard, was able to drive right up to the edge of the pots and dump the load. Looked like a lot of soil to me and I thanked my lucky stars that Benny had dissuaded me from ordering more.
The weekend came and while I was out being Mum’s taxi, the hard work began. Benny shoveled soil into four out of five, only because I still hadn’t emptied the last one of the grass infested mulch that was in the fifth. Once I was home I pulled out all stops and got that done and also shoveled in the soil, thankful that he had left the closest pot to the soil for me to do. That, my friends, was enough work for the day so on Sunday after reading one of the books I had collected on growing veggies, I and my list went to Bunnings for five packets of seeds. Yep seeds this time not seedlings.
That afternoon I planted the five things I knew I would eat, and were appropriate for our climate and the time of year, yep I learned something from my previous experience. As they were circles and I couldn’t very well plant rows, I used a bamboo cane to draw out a spiral in each pot, from the centre out allowing about 15cm spacing. In the first pot I planted silver beet, the second which received the most shade cos lettuce because it keeps the longest and you can just remove the leaves that you need as you need them. The third I planted with carrots as it was closest to the awesome fragrance of the rosemary bush which I read keeps “carrot loving” pests at bay.
I also used a little trick I had learnt from a DVD I bought myself last Christmas “A Year in Pete’s Patch” (available from ABC shops) and mixed the itty bitty tiny carrot seeds in with a jar with sand to disperse them. With a hole pierced in the lid it is the perfect pouring receptacle to plant a thinned out layer of seeds without having to use tweezers to pick them out individually. The next pot I planted with snow peas and used a different technique.
As I needed to make sure there was room for a trellis to support the growing vines I drew a line through the centre and then on either side a zig zag planting a seed deep in the ground every 5cm. This way each of the plants will support each other as they grow and all will be able to reach the support of the trellis. The last pot I planted celery from seeds that I had had for over a year and as yet they are the only ones that have not germinated. Reckon there must be a life span for seeds?
Fast forward one week and all the lettuce plants had sprouted, two weeks and the silver beet, and carrots had broken through the ground. Three weeks later and I have gorgeous little snow pea plants as well, but still no celery. I have an old wire chair (cushion just inside the front door for ease of grabbing) and a solid timber side table on adjustable feet that can be leveled to adjust to uneven terrain (gotta love him!) to hold my cuppa or wine, laptop, book or whatever floats my boat. Happy Place in place, the next job is constructing a trellis that can be moved from pot to pot if needed. Think I might give that job to Benny as I feel that some hand made pavers will be a nice addition to the garden and a crafty project for Lawson and I to do over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
PS – One week later…. and my new mobile trellis is installed!