Monday, June 20, 2011

My New Winter Veggie Garden

I think its about time I showed my new veggie patch- it is still very young and new but showing lots of promise! I picked this area as it receives sun most of the day and is very sheltered. Our back garden is much warmer than the front (open to wind) or side (shady) which is important in our cold climate. The colorbond fence at the back and the shed to the side make a little microclimate, which I am hoping will equate to more food in less time!
We roped in my in-laws to help while they were staying here (hey, no such thing as a free lunch eh?!!) which made things take shape pretty quickly. We used whatever materials we had for borders- some timber offcuts and old timber posts, short star pickets and even an old sign was cut in half! Hopefully one day they will be replaced with handsome hardwood sleepers, but for now I was happy to just get something to hold the soil in. A few bricks are makeshift 'steppers' so I can get in to the middle without crushing the plants.

My helpers and the newly filled bed.
Only these few herbs were plants, the rest raised from seed.

The main patch is a raised bed as the garden is kikuyu lawn, which truly is like digging into carpet. Much easier for quick results was to put down cardboard and thick newspaper layers (to block the grass growing through), then heap up with around 30cm deep of good soil. We bought our soil in from a local nursery and it is a rich mix of animal manures and mushroom compost, a specific product for vegetable beds.
The main bed pictured here is 6 metres long x 1.2 metres wide, and used about 2/3 of the 2 cubic metres soil we bought, so cost around $70 to fill. I think it was worth doing for the quick results and less back-breaking for us :-)

....and yesterday, starting to look a lot greener

So what did I plant? Well here in the Blue Mountains winter choices are pretty limited for this season. I chose things that we will actually eat, that don't take a lot of room and that work in our climate.

English Spinach
Curly Kale
Tuscan Kale
Italian Lettuce
Broad beans
Sugar Snap peas
Massey (shelling) peas
Snow Peas
Broccoli (Di Cicco)
Broccoli (Romanesco)
and various herbs- parsley, thyme, oregano, lemon thyme, lemon balm, coriander

English Spinach

Trying to coax my peas to find the string!

Each has its own section, but given that I had my kids 'helping' some of the the seeds were broadcast thickly rather than sown in rows, such as the curly kale which germinated fantastically, possibly because a whole packet of teeny tiny seeds was spilt! I'm working on the permaculture principle of having no gaps to block weeds :-)

I have used no fertilisers other than a couple of waterings with diluted worm juice from our worm farm. I think the soil has enough goodness to last quite a while.

Curly Kale- enough to feed the street!

We will certainly not have enough to feed our family, (unless we live on kale!) but even supplementing our shop-bought groceries is a great start. It is a great on-going project for the whole family, our kids have learnt so much and now get really excited when they see the huge fat worms in the patch because the soil is so good!

Leeks in recycled poly-pipes to blanch the stems

I have just started another section as well, up to the shed, to plant my garlic and potatoes into, but I will leave that for another post.

Happy gardening!  :-)


Jan said...

Looks great. I really like kale. Dad and mum lived for many years in cul-de-sac next to RC church at Lawson and Dad established a beautiful garden from scratch. He swore by Scarlet Runner beans as great in mountain climate. They do need a trellis. He always had heaps of veges and herbs growing even with frosts.

Don't bet on newspaper killing kikuyu, it's even worse than couch grass. When I was a child we lived in an area with no paved footpaths and a dirt road. Our rainwater from front of house ran across the front yard underground and emptied into gutter. Dad once pulled a bit of kikuyu out from the outlet. Pulled and pulled. It was several metres long in gutter, probably another ten metres under front yard. It then went up the drainpipe and was growing in the gutter of the house.

dixiebelle said...

Looks fantastic!

Anne said...

Look's great!

Ive been getting my vegie seedling at the Blackheath Growers Markets Ive been pretty happy with them. I haven't had any luck growing vegies from seed the birds slugs and snails get to them. I would love to get chooks but our back yard is tiny there no room and our land lord said we can only have Bantam chickens he dosen't want holes all over his garden from the big chickens!....:(
I need alot of Bantams to feed this Family...LOL

The Bower birds have been raiding my vegie patch my Kale are little sticks now.

greenfumb said...

Well done, it's looking very productive already. i would definitely go Runner Beans, we had them as kids and practically lived on them but I don't think it's cold enough in Sydney.

Jan said...

ordinary climbing beans work well in Sydney but the Scarlet runners grow well in cooler climates. Dad grew up in Lithgow, colder than Blackheath mostly and with a bitter wind. They grew Scarlet Runners there too.

mountainwildlife said...

Hi Jan! Thanks for your comments and advice - I have seen the scarlet runner beans do very well up here-I might give them a go in Spring. I usually grow the purple king beans, but that was when we lived in Lawson too, definitely a few degrees warmer there. I'm sure they would work for you in Sydney Deb.
And yes, the kikuyu- its a bugger. Saying that, we do have the best lawn we've ever had, I was happy when we moved here the kids had a really nice lawn to play on for once, but not so good in the veg patch.... I know it isn't a permanent solution but it should work for a year or 2. The alternative was to hire one of those turf cutter machines and cut it out, but thats not permanenet either, and money and time meant we used old moving boxes instead! Scary tale about your gutter-monster kikuyu :-/

mountainwildlife said...

Hi Anne- sorry to hear of your pest problems in the garden- you have a few working against you! We have been lucky so far, the swooping magpies that think they own this area seem to keep the bowerbirds away from here... and scare the poor chooks too.

Pity about your landlord and the chooks. Could you buy or build a small ark or tractor type chook house? You could easily keep up to around 4 large or 6 bantams in there, no damage to the garden (except where it sits) and no permanent structure. Then they could have the occasional free-range that wouldn't wreck the place either. Thats what I'm doing at the moment until we build a new larger run in the corner of the garden.
I really like the Blackheath market man too, if I can't grow my own from seed or only want 1 or 2 of something. But hey, if you want some more kale I could dig out quite a few for you without missing them!