My Garden … meet the beds!

I have several raised beds, to be honest about 6 or so … and to make gardening easy I have numbered each bed (please tell me I’m not the only one that does this?)  Might sound odd, but it makes gardening much easier. The beds also vary in size, some are truly ‘raised’ beds, while others are just garden plots with edging made from macrocarpa.

My beds are all located on a hill relatively close to our house, but hidden from view behind a hedge of  Norfolk hibiscus. Not that I want my beds to be hidden mind you …  Ideally all these gorgeous gardens abounding with vege would be better suited nearer the house – back door of course which would super. However, thanks to a fairly diligent south west wind the beds site was located to a nice northerly position, devoid of some of that badgering wind. The other advantage with the hill positioning is drainage which given that our property is situated on Waitakeri clay is a bonus!

Yes the beds get the sun all day, some wind too (a northerly can really give them a bit of a hammering) but the position is actually pretty good. Three of the beds have been literally built into the hill and are about 4.2 metres x 1.6 metres (a school project actually) while there are another 4 beds moving down the slope all approximately 3 – 4 metres in length. The various widths vary and with the exception of a divided bed complete with path – the remaining 2 beds are wide  – too wide actually as weeding and planting them means I need to stand on the soil to do so – and we gardeners know how much we hate doing that!

So with this in mind let’s see what is happening in my garden.

The first bed is aptly named Raised Bed 1 – This bed has a cloche which is about half the size of the bed approx 2 metres. There is an array of seedlings within brassicas of course, lettuce with its good buddy beetroot, coriander and dill, and of course self seeded nasturtium. Left from summer there are some rather bedraggled chili plants and an array of herbs, alyssum, fever few and calendula.  The plants within the tunnel house are doing fine, although there is obvious slug and snail damage and some damage also from some rotten caterpillars. Suspect that some of the seedlings I planted had hitch hiker larvae present. Shame! But to make myself feel better and get those seedlings growing I shall splash about some homemade fish/seaweed brew.

A metre down the hill is raised bed 2 – On the 24th March I planted this bed with leeks and red onions. As I used horse manure in this bed it is a mass of weeds, dock mainly, tiny little plants that I relish hauling out! The allium seedlings are looking ok, they always seem to take forever to stand to attention. More of that seaweed brew needed here please.

One more metre away we have my very special brassica garden in raised bed 3! The growth in this bed has been amazing – with the plants starting to jostle within the confines of the cloche. There is obvious slug and snail damage … which always annoys me. Normally each year I am diligent with my nightly mollusk patrols, bucket in one hand torch in the other seeking those damned slimy little suckers that are busy chewing away at my crop.  This year however, I have been far from diligent and my poor brassicas are paying the price!

I love pulling back the cloche and peering into this garden … it is interesting to see what weeds are about, or not and what has self seeded. Always calendula and nasturtian …

The next bed is a few metres down the hill and is the first with the macrocarpa border. The soil in this bed is fantastic as it is in most of the garden beds. Like anything it takes time. School certainly helped me  in my understanding of soil.. no doubt about it. I believe in ‘growing my soil’ and to do that it is important to add back carbon and nitrogen. So in layers literally on top of the existing soil will go mulched greenery from the previous crop,  straw, composted horse manure, shavings from the chook house (complete with chook pooh of course) rotting seaweed, coffee grounds, food scrapes, cold or hot compost, bokasi bin contents,  an array of goodies and let’s not forget amendments – lime, woodash, rok solid, phosphate rock. Some people might call this sheet mulching … I call it my lasagna mix!

As it happens last summer was fairly devoid of sun – pity that,  so the residents of raised bed 4 from the nightshade family … chili and capsicum all of which love the sun and lots of it cropped poorly. It is just about time to hoist these out … although the calendula and alyssum in here has grown like mad .. hiding the rather sorry nightshade residents.

I did poke some peas in here as an after thought mid Feb, which have grown fabulously. One thing I didn’t do though was provide them with a decent trellis to clamber up  … I will certainly plant them again next year but give them with a proper climbing structure. These nitrogen fixing plants have gone mad with all the seaweed and comfrey brews I have sloshed about. Something has certainly worked a treat as they are devoid of any fungal problems … bring on the seaweed fert!

RB5 – This garden is having a wee break for now. Garlic is going to go in here in June, but until it does this garden is being left to its own devices. Self seeded borage is growing like mad plus I cast phaecilia and also lupin seeds in there too. These plants will all act as brilliant ground cover protecting that soil from the elements until the next crop goes in!

One more bed to go and this bed although way too big has the best soil ever! I suspect that much of this is due to the chunks of seaweed which have been buried in this bed – lots of it actually. And I don’t wash the salt off either. My garden doesn’t seem to mind at all. The worm life in here is extraordinary as is the organic matter. The soil has a sweet earthy smell . Perfect! Well nearly. I did another one of my daft ‘let’s try something new tricks’ and planted some purple heart spuds in here late Feb! Waste of time … they should have gone in way before that, so my 20 odd seed spuds have come to zilch – well nearly, there are 2 rather sorry looking potato plants hiding amongst the array of very happy self seeded greenery. Calendula, sun flowers (from summer garden), borage, phacelia, nasturtian, alyssum and of course the odd weed or two, oh and let’s not forget the lemon balm a member of the mint family and yes it is invasive too. This is a very happy garden indeed, complete with rosemary and thyme … another garden that will be hoisted out in June. Bring on that garlic!

Meet the beds .. pic taken 2009
This was a big job. Beds built into the side of the hill
Lots of wonderful ingredients went into these

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