However, it was not to be. A series of entirely unexpected but major events from September to mid December took over and the garden didn't even get started. Meanwhile, I was mulling ideas, and starting to think I needed to think much bigger than a few little garden beds.
In mid December, I stumbled across Mavis' blog - this gal has the same size section as us, and in 2012 had set a goal to grow one ton of produce in her back yard. She achieved it, and decided on double or nothing for 2013. I was inspired! Along with all I'd been reading and thinking about food over the last few years, I had come to realise we really needed to grow most of our own food. But could I do it? Mavis inspired me to stop overthinking it and just give it a go.
A few years ago, my husband had helped me by making 4 raised wooden garden beds, each 2m x 1m, out of untreated 6x1" timber. These had been planted last year in various things, inspired by the garden group I had joined. They were now fairly untidy, but there were a few things growing in them - some rosemary and silverbeet, parsley, raspberries and boysenberries etc.
Last summer, I had had the ingenious idea to have my husband make me some wooden frames for new garden beds, of the maximum size that I could reach across to the middle from both sides, and as long as the available space allowed for. Plus, a moveable chicken house and run that could sit on each bed and be moved from one to the other - a chook tractor. My lovely husband made them to my design - the bed frames are 1.25 x 3.25m, with a flat plank on the top edges so the chook run could sit on it. The chicken run is a masterpiece - but made out of wood it turned out to be far to heavy to move easy, even for two people. It's now sitting out in the back paddock. Only one of the frames got filled with dirt and planted last year, the rest remaining stacked ready for use.
So, shortly before Christmas, I started planting whatever I could. The existing raised beds got weeded. A friend generously gave me many seedlings, which I planted. I started digging up sections of the front lawn to plant in sweetcorn.
I determined that I would plant absolutely anything I was able to get free or very cheaply, and that I would keep a garden diary to record what I planted and where, and how it turned out. If anything didn't go well, I'd learn from it and move on. I accepted that I would probably not get everything right this first year, and that that was ok. I knew I was starting late in the season, so couldn't expect to get as much harvested this summer as would have been possible if I'd started planting in September. (Actually, I'd stopped beating myself up about that when a late very harsh frost on December 8th severely damaged many people's tomato and sweetcorn etc seedlings that they had all diligently planted earlier).
However, I decided to go ahead and set the goal of growing 1000 kgs (one ton) of produce in my garden this year. I considered giving myself until the end of the 2013/14 summer, so I'd have one full summer season, and this is an option if it proves impossible to come close during the 2013 calendar year. Starting out, I had no idea whatsoever if I could actually reach what seemed to be a huge goal, but I've always found that setting a goal, then telling others about it, motivates me to keep on trying when I'd otherwise start with a bang then loose momentum.
In the last part of December, I did the following:
1) Cleared the weeds from a small patch were a few months earlier I had planted some blackcurrent cuttings given to me my a local gardener. 9 had struck and were sprouting some leaves.
2) Cleared out the weeds and the parsley and silverbeet that had gone to seed from 3 of my original raised beds. One I planted in two rows of beans as an experiment - more on this in another post. One I sowed with carrots and covered with some fake carpet to keep moist, and the third I planted with some kumera (sweet potato) shoots. (Picture above)
3) I took the bird netting off the top of our old chicken run and placed it over the bed of raspberry and boysenberry canes I had shifted there a year or so earlier.
4) I planted some pea and yellow bean seeds in the only larger wooden bedframe already filled with soil, along with some freckle lettuce seedlings a friend gave me.
5) I dug a small patch outside our bathroom in the full sun, and planted 3 yacon tubers a friend had also given me.
6) I nabbed some comphrey seedlings from Freecycle, and planted them under the apple tree.
7) Following an idea I'd seen on the internet, I planted a potato patch no-dig style by laying down newspapers on the ground, covering them with a little compost, then spreading them with old hay. I planted two bags of seed potatoes, and a whole bunch of sprouted potatoes from the kitchen.
8) I dug a 4m x 1.4m strip in the front lawn and planted it in corn. My husband dug two more strips the same size
for me to plant - the first time in 10 years he's dug a garden for me.
9) In a front garden bed along a fence, which had been waist high in weeds I couldn't conquer for 6 years until last winter when my daughter decided to do something about it, I planted two orangeberries and 8 zucchini seedlings.
10) I started a worm farm in a borrowed worm bin and I planted a cucumber and a passionfruit vine
11) On a spot where there used to be a greenhouse some years ago, I began another no-dig bed and planted it with 10 zucchini seedlings given to me by a friend.
More on each of these in other posts.