Last winter, I created a new boysenberry and raspberry bed, planting canes I transferred from my previous 1m x 2m small bed. They've grown rampantly! After weeding, my next task was to remove the finished boysenberry canes and tie in the new ones, remove raspberries that were growing outside the bounds of the allotted area, and get a bit creative with some string to hold up the autumn fruiting canes against some high winds that were predicted (but didn't eventuate this time). The flower boarder along one side also needed clearing, as did the path on the other. Here are the before pics:
The after pics are below. At one end of the raspberries, I have a lemon verbena and some soapwort. At the other end are Cape Gooseberries and Fennel, under planted with Sanvitalia.
Now I just need to decide what to plant along the border for some winter colour. Maybe I'll plant some cornflowers there. Or petunias. Or violas. Or poppies. Hmmmm......lots of choices! Just for comparison, below I a pic of this garden bed when it was first created and planted 9 months ago, in July 2014:
Amazing how fast things grow!
Those who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I refer the the eight 3.25 x 1.25m wooden edged raised beds I rotate vegetable crops in as my "main vege beds." Well, actually it's 9 beds now - one of those 8 got replace by two 1x2m beds. Anyway, like the rest of the garden, they have gotten somewhat overgrown and neglected over the last couple of months. So, time to pull out weeds and spent plants, and start prepping them for winter crops. The following three "before" photos show first off all the whole area, then a photo of each set of 4 or 5 beds, taken from one end. I've got some work to do!
I decided to tackle the beds two at a time, with breaks between, over two days.
First, I weeded the watermelon bed, which has some nice watermelons of two varieties (Sugar Baby and Crimson Sweet) ripening in it, and green and purple beans growing up the corner posts. Shortly after I planted the seedlings, I was having so many problems with birds digging in the bark and around the roots of the plants, that I inverted freezer baskets around each to protect them until thy were established. Well, the vines grew right through them, and I left it too late to remove them. This made weeding a bit more challenging, but I did it.
Then I began clearing the massively overgrown bed next to it. This one had dwarf beans growing in it, which where now dry, so I pulled up a large bin of those, and put them in the shed to dry some more before I shell them for seed. After clearing all the weeds, I added a large load of home made compost to the bed, sprinkled with some soft lime, and topped it with well-rotted wood chip. I decided to put some winter brassicas in the bed; to prevent white butterfly from decimating them, I am covering the bed in micromesh, and to prevent the steel hoops from damaging the micromesh when we get our usual gales, I first slid some aqua noodles over the steel rods for protection. I've out the punnets of broccoli, celery and cabbage under the net to harden off, but won't plant them out for a while yet.
Next, I removed the bird netting from the silverbeet patch and weeded it, removing gone-to-seed radish plants, and not-so-good outer leaves from the silverbeet. Another bed is full of celery, with some Tiny Tim tomatoes at one end. Some of the celery is going to seed; I removed a few plants, and staked up the biggest one so it can produce seed for next season. The bed was weeded and tidied up. Next to it is a bed of white sweetcorn, underplanted with a couple of buttercup squash. I pulled out the dried seed stalks of the Corn Cockle flowers that were there, and put aside to save seed from (they sound really cool when you shake them, as they rattle, and look good enough for an artistic indoor arrangement). I weeded that bed too, and the barked area between them that had gotten really weedy. I also weeded the narrow bed against the fence behind them, which has beans growing up a trellis.
The following day, I started by weeding the bed containing onions, beetroot, spring onions and parsnips. One of the parsnips right at the end is going to seed - I will let it do so and collect the seeds, as it's a big, strong plant and parsnip seed must be very fresh for successful germination. I also started harvesting some of the onions. This is my first proper attempt to grow onions, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the results. Some of them are going to be bigger than the palm of my hand! I need to harvest and bottle all the beetroot - on my to-do list for next week!
The next bed over formerly contained garlic and shallots. It was rough-weeded recently, so now it got a fine weeding, added compost and aged wood-chip, and was sown in 3 varieties of beetroot, three rows each, and a couple of rows of parsnips. I've planted some Detroit Red beetroot, which always do well for me, some Easy-slice long style beetroot, and some multi-coloured red and white ones, just for fun. I covered the bed in bird netting, to prevent the blackbirds digging up the seeds, as they are always attracted to newly mulched beds.
Next up was the tomato bed, also planted with parsley, basil and marigolds. The tomatoes have been devastated by psyllid. I picked a roasting dish full of ripe tomatoes off them, but when I tried them they tasted pretty awful, so they went to the chickens. I pull the tomato plants and removed their cages, and weeded the bed. The cinnamon basil smells SO good! Here is a photo from before I pulled the tomato plants:
The final bed contains spaghetti squash, Golden Midget water melons, peppers, eggplant and a couple of cucumbers. It just needed a bit of weeding. Harder work was the path between the beds - it had completely overgrown with couch and other stubborn weeds. I ended up digging out the lot, removing all runners etc, then laying cardboard and fresh bark. Here's the before photo for that section:
And below is the after shot of the two beds and path. :-) I think I'm going to use the tomato cages in a different configuration and sow broad beans in the middle of what was the tomato bed. But no hurry on that - if I sow them too soon they'll get enormously tall by spring and suffer wind damage. I'll probably wait until June. The spaghetti squash are at the end of their life span and will be ready to harvest soon, and the watermelon are close to picking too, as well as the peppers.
Phew! It feels like I'm making some progress taming this jungle!
I'm on a mission to get my neglected garden back under control by the end of the month!
Running down one side of my garden is a main pathway that acts as thoroughfare from the house to the back paddock and chicken run. On one side is my garden sink, the grapevine and compost bins, and on the other the ends of my berry patches, a narrow bed of feijoas and flowers, and finally by the back gate a raised area where my swing seat is under a trellis. Like the rest of my wanna-be jungle, these have been getting very overgrown! Here are three "before" pics:
Phew! Where to start? Well, I started by cutting down about 4 metres of grapevine which had grown along the side of the building, smothering my sink area (not pictured) and trying to get in through a bedroom window. I pulled out weeds, got rid of junk, and cleaned out the sink. I also cleared off a table which was covered in old pots and other junk. And then I started on the pathway area. There was a ton of weeds in a spot to the left just before the grapevine - after clearing that out I laid cardboard and mulched with bark, then put down a pallet and stacked trellis, timber and other garden construction materials there out of the way. I trimmed back the grapevine so the compost bins could be more readily accessed, and it wasn't in danger of entangling me by my hair every time I walked around the far end to my greenhouse! And I pulled weeds all along the pathway, and in the narrow bed of feijoas, leaving one self-seeded cosmos that's well into flowering and looks pretty.
I built a fourth compost bin at the end of the line of bins, ready to be filled shortly. The woven weed mat stapled to the inside of the pallets stops materials falling through the gaps. The pallets are simply wired or nailed together in the corners.
Then I started on the swing seat area, ripping down all the spent sweet pea vines (saving some seed pods in a container), tearing up the horrid couch grass and all it's runners, weeding out the Chilean Guava bed, and the beds around three sides of the swing seat area. I laid newspaper as weed suppressor around the Impatiens in the rear bed, and covered with aged wood chip. I laid cardboard on the ground under the swing seat and covered with fresh wood chip.
The Chilean Guavas (aka NZ Cranberry) bushes are just over a year old, and were laden with yummy ripe fruit, which I picked and am using to make jelly. They are delicious and incredibly fragrant! The kids love them.
I made a quick trip to the beach for a few pieces of driftwood - I used a piece, along with two pots, to create a higher edge for this bed, to which I added some homemade compost. One pot has alyssum in it, the other will be planted with petunias. I have male and female kiwifruit vines I will plant on the trellis as soon as they harden off.
And I used some more pieces of driftwood to make a more defined edge to the bed beside the path - since I barked the path, visitors often mistakenly walk on the bed. I have some violas I'm going to plant in this bed for winter, after I do some fine weeding, and add some compost and aged bark, but that's a job for another day.
A couple of things I have since added to this area:
My new worm farm - made from an old bath mounted on a stand my husband put together for me. I'll be adding an insert inside before filling with manure and adding worms (more on this in another post). A bin under the drain hole will catch the worm tea for use in my garden. Yay! :-)
At the end of 2013, I had set up three "pallet beds" just inside the entrance of my garden. I planted these with various salad greens. At the time, I thought they would be easily accessible for picking, being quite close to the kitchen, and would be partly shaded by the neighbouring building, thus increasing the chances of the lettuces not bolting in summer. But it didn't turn out to be as effective as I hoped - the pallets constantly dried out, despite almost daily watering, the lettuces kept bolting in summer, and I had mistaken the angle of the sun in summer - they weren't as shaded as I had imagined. After two seasons of repeated bolting, I decided it was time for the pallets to go. The below "before" pic I remembered to take after I had already started ripping out the spent plants and weeds, and removed the waist-high dried parsley seed heads to save for seed. I'd also pulled out the first pallet, and removed the trellis that had been at one end of it.
So, I weeded the area, harvested seed from the parsley (enough to plant several acres of parsley I reckon!), pruned the Banksia rose on the trellis fence, removed all three pallets, and then.......
I installed a 1m x 2m wooden bed box I'd removed from another part of the garden - one end of it forming the back of the half-circle brick bed, just as the pallet previously had. I used the left over soil from the pallets in the bottom, then filled it with homemade compost and topped it with aged (semi-composted) wood chip. I broadcast mixed lettuce seed saved from the previous year all over it, and ruffled then smoothed the surface with my hand, sufficient to bury the seed, and watered it in.
At the end of the bed, just barely in this pic, I placed a long, narrow metal tray I found at the dump, and in it put four English mint plants, and two pennyroyal plants. The mints had been inside my house, but had got a bad case of rust, so I cut them back hard, and moved the out here to recover. Funny story about the mint, actually - I wanted them in the house as they are reputed to be good fly deterrents, and flies here are bad in summer. They didn't seem to be having a great effect, though, and I was about to give up on them when one night a strange creature was flying around the living room as we were watching a DVD together. My son whipped out his net and captured what looked almost like a dragonfly, but not. He placed it in a jar to more closely examine and identify. Noticing it was slipping around inside the jar, I suggested a small twig or similar for it to rest on. As mint was the only indoor plant handy, we broke off a stem and put it in the jar. Shortly thereafter, it also caught an annoying moth and put it in another jar, with another sprig of mint. Ten minutes or so later, my son said "Mum, I think it's dead," referring to what we had identified as a damselfly. He tipped it out onto a cloth, and sure enough, it was completely still, with curled up legs. I watched the moth for a while. It, too, became inert. "Hmmmm.....I pondered. Death by mint??" My son tossed the moth outside, and as he came back in, the damselfly suddenly took wing! It seems the mint had anaesthetized the bugs, not killed them - once they were moved into fresh air, they recovered! Later that night, my son caught a net full of flies and tried the same treatment on them, with the same results. Hmmmm.....so perhaps the mint DOES have an effect, if there is sufficient of it in the space. Perhaps the flies the sense it's not good for them, and leave, as reputed. I have high ceilings and an open plan kitchen/dining/living/foyer. So I would need a lot more plants to do that trick. However, I have limited space to put them. Still thinking on this......
In the remaining space, I raked it smooth, laid a new cardboard mulch, and re-barked with fresh woodchip. I moved a glass table I picked up from an thrift shop and a chair from the dump into the space. I found a lovely green glazed pot at the thrift store for $4 and put some mini pink chrysanthemums in it. I planted out a peppermint geranium and a lemon geranium against the wall among the other geraniums, and added a lavender and several violas to the bed under the trellis. An old sickle provides some rustic ornamentation - it will be mounted on the wall one of these days.
I also removed the remaining calendula plants from the half-circle bed, which has a Damson plum seedling in it, and planted some more violas there.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with how this area turned out!
This page is my blog formerly known as Kiwi Urban Homestead.