Redoing vegetable beds update

A while ago I posted about redoing the raised vegetable garden boxes at Homeland, due to the soil being so dead and hard. We are now doing them as proper no-dig beds, from scratch. Well, you may wonder, how’s that all panning out?

The first bed was planted with Pak Choy and two types of lettuce – all home-seeded in the greenhouse. That has been growing really well, and we’ve been enjoying greens with about everything. Fresh on homemade hamburgers, in fresh garden salads and as mixed greens fried with the Pak Choy. Happy customer J

Veg upd - lettuce and pak choy

Salad and Pak Choy bed

In one of the double beds we planted a mixture of kale, two types of broccoli and two types of cabbage, with spring onions and penny royal as companions to hopefully deter pests. The seedlings were a mix of our own greenhouse-sprouted and some Diggers seedlings bought from the local green shed. These plants have literally shot up. We have already been enjoying some of the kale.

Veg upd - brassicas 2

Brassicas bed

As for the pest deterrent companions, well, not so much… Patricia and I regularly have walk-throughs of this bed to remove caterpillars from the brassicas. Lots of them. I think the wild birds are too busy feasting on our chook food next door at Dreamland, instead of picking green morsels from our brassicas.

It took a while, but the penny eventually dropped. We could reverse that cycle, albeit manually. We now keep a little bucket handy at the vegetable patch and every time we do a de-caterpillaring, we take the bucket of caterpillars for the chooks to feast on. Of course, the roosters are first to come and look, but funnily enough, they’re not that interested. The little Scot Grey hens, on the other hand, can’t get enough of them. They gobble the caterpillars up as fast as we can carry them over. I wish I could “automate” that process, but no, letting the chooks loose on the brassica bed is not a viable option. Not yet…

Picking caterpillars and feeding chooks

It was quite uncanny, when I got the seedlings from the green shed, I also got a few bales of organic pea straw mulch to use in the new beds, as we were running low on straw and my straw supplier seems to have disappeared into the wide blue yonder. Anyway, as I was waiting in line for a coffee to get some energy boost to process said no-dig beds, some arbitrary bloke started chatting to me and we talked about no-dig beds, self-sufficiency, and of course, the dry weather (at the time), as you do. He then commented on how much problems he has had with the pea straw mulch, as the pea seeds in the mulch keep sprouting everywhere. For most part I use the pea straw mulch as one of the deeper layers in the no-dig beds, so I wasn’t overly concerned and merrily hacked my merry way on. On this particular brassica bed, I was running low on sugar cane mulch, so I used the pea straw mulch as the top layer. Low and behold – pea sprouts everywhere!

Veg upd - pea sprouts

Many pea sprouts lurking

Two of our long beds – they are part of a long bed that runs lengthwise all along the side of the other beds – have been planted chockers with garlic. Well, they have just started coming up, but then the garlic in the no-dig beds over at Dreamland haven’t even started, and they were planted even before these ones were. So we wait patiently. The good news is, no weeds have been sprouting either.

In the second last of our long beds we planted more lettuce and more Pak Choy (both home sprouted in the greenhouse) and some sugar snap peas, which were direct seeded. What was interesting about this bed was that its level dropped a lot more than the other new no-dig beds. Not to worry, it will get more layers after this crop.

Veg upd - back bed

Lettuce, Pak Choy and Peas

Whereas my peas which were sown into the ground at Dreamland are reluctantly and slowly coming up, the ones in this last bed look quite alive and energetic, even though they are at the dry end of the bed. I’ve tried a new experiment on this bed, lining it with thick weed mat to try and keep the couch and the Eucalyptus roots out of it. I’m aware of capillary power, however – so the Eucalyptus roots may still suck the ground dry below the bed, which in turn would drain the bed – but let’s see how it goes.

With the whole compost and glass saga , the progress on the re-do effort was slowed down a bit. In a way that was a good thing, as it gave the next batch of seedlings in the greenhouse time to get really strong before being transplanted. The only problem is, the spring onions are getting a bit root-bound in their punnets, but we’ll figure out that little problem now that we’re up and running again.

Veg upd - greens

Already enjoying the spoils

So, we’ve got about a quarter of the beds done. Two quarters to go, if you the maths make sense? Clue: there are some beds with perennials like rhubarb and asparagus that aren’t getting redone. Some of the strawberry beds will also only get redone later. O, and one of the old beds is full of young spinach that we need to finish first – which could take a while, unless the chooks have a say in the matter. There, puzzle solved. OK, get that wheelbarrow and shovel out, matey, you’ve still two quarters to go!

About (207 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

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