It’s beautiful autumn weather, much cooler, and we’ve spent most of the day in the back yard getting sweaty.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m planning three or four metre-square raised beds, to make sure my vegies don’t rot with their feet in too much water during the Wet. We’re basing the raised beds on IBCs, those white plastic cubes with an aluminium cage around them. They have a tap in the bottom to let out excess water, they’re lightweight, and will keep out excess water if the back yard should flood.
This is what we started with at 10am today. A riot of lush, sappy vegetation and weedy grass surrounding the three pods we’ve acquired (for free, I might add!).
Having shifted the first pod out of the way, we had a fairly tedious hour or so of chipping up the grass, roots and weeds and disposing of them, since I don’t yet have a composting system. Down went firstly weed retardant, then weed matting, and then a layer of bark chips. Of course, the wind picked up and the weed matting started to fight back, hence the stones in corners.
Then we decapitated the first pod with an angle grinder and an old saw. The angle grinder dealt with the aluminium frame and the saw with the plastic. The top of the metal cage is also being kept to form a frame for shade cloth and insect netting. If I’m going to spend time and energy cultivating vegies, I don’t want my efforts to be reaped by the grasshoppers before I get a look in. The pod is now waist high, perfect for working in. I’ll have to make the edge safe, as there’s a lot of sharp metal points and edges, but I think some high density foam insulating tubing will do the job.
Here’s how it’ll work. The bamboo canes in the corners are 1.80m (about 6ft) tall. Visualise that top frame draped in insect netting with a roof of shade cloth. I can lift the netting aside to work in the raised bed. The top of the frame is high enough that I can grow quite tall things, like broccoli, if I want to. The two rear stakes are cable tied to the fence to give more stability. The crossbars of the plastic top fit over the top of the frame and the top can be fixed in place if necessary to protect the vegies from torrential rain. A sort of vegiebrella… We have the pods slightly sloping downhill on one side, towards the drain tap, in case we need to let excess water out.
We spent a bit of time to-ing and fro-ing this afternoon, since cutting the frame chewed up the angle grinder disks at an alarming rate and we had to get more. And we couldn’t get all the bark chips we wanted in one go, so a bit of time was wasted. But we’ll be back out there tomorrow. Ideally we’ll get both the other pods done, but even if it’s only one, it’s a good start.
Once they’re in position, we need some fist-sized stones to put in the bottom for drainage. On top of that will go tightly packed flakes of lucerne (alfalfa) hay, which will rot down over time and provide good nitrogen. On top of that, a layer of blood and bone, and then organic compost/soil mix. This will bring the planting level up to about a handswidth from the top edge. This year, it’s going to be seedlings. I haven’t got any seeds going because we were never sure when we were going to be able to get this done. And of course, I still need to organise the planting medium. So I’ll bite the bullet and pay the extra. Next year, though…
And then finally, finally, I can get my vegies going…