The garden was one of the first things to happen at Providence Hill. There were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, while the DA for the shed was being processed there wasn’t much else to do. Secondly, I really wanted to have the beds ready for spring planting in September (and being really heavily pregnant around June/July, I could think of nothing better than moving a few tonnes of soil around).
Our soil has a lot of clay and rocks in it. Big rocks. So in my mind it made sense to build up a layer of really good soil on top of what was already there. Kind of like creating a new top soil. I did a bit of research into how to do this, and used a combination of methods from the following Permaculture News articles:
“An easy way to start a new permaculture garden” – cut grass, lay wet cardboard, cover with good quality soil, plant
“How to build a permaculture vegetable garden” – cut grass, dig trench around, top with compost, cover with wet newspaper (or cardboard), mulch, plant
The beds are the same size as our temporary chook tractor. This means that the chooks can do some of the bed preparation for us in that they clear the grass and fertilise. As the chooks are only 18 weeks old, we are only now able to see how great a job they do for bed #5.
In early August when the first and second beds were ready, I planted some rhubarb crowns and asparagus from the Diggers Club. I have a selection of Ruby Red, Victoria and Winter Wonder rhubarb and Purple, Mary Washington and Fat Bastard asparagus. At that time I also ordered a stack of seeds, and a cane berry collection which I have planted along our front fence.
The second Sunday of each month is the Blackheath Farmers Market. Patio Plants are there every month and have a really good selection of seedlings. Their system is great in that you can fill your own punnets. The September market is always a big one for Patio Plants, as everyone takes advantage of the weather warming up to start planting their spring veg. As Miss E was only a couple of weeks old, I was lucky to have my mum (Nana) with us to help me choose and plant our spring seedlings. Nana is a trained landscape designer and her dad, Benny, was a citrus grower in Renmark. My Uncle is also a botanist and had a beautiful garden where he was living in Adelaide. Gardening runs in my family as you can see.
Nana spent the whole afternoon planting out rocket, kale, parsley, coriander, zucchini, sorrel, lavender, chamomile and all sorts of other goodies. We went with a kind of Jackie French randomised approach. It ended up working really well, and meant that the heavy feeders weren’t all planted together and if there were insect attacks, they couldn’t just munch through a whole season worth of lettuce or bean seedlings. I also threw in a few things to attract beneficial insects and bees, like lavender, marigold, Queen Anne’s Lace, dill, fennel and chamomile.
Since then I have added another 2 beds full of cucumbers, capsicums, beetroots, eggplants, tomatoes (Black Russian, Black Cherry, Yellow Cherry, Wild Sweetie and some more commercially available types). I also planted a stack of corn from seed and some pumpkins and spaghetti squash.
Since late September we have been eating at least something from our garden every day, even if it’s just some kale thrown into a bolognese. We had zucchini in everything for a few months, and have enjoyed some beautiful oven roasted tomato sauces (more posts and photos to come from the kitchen).
I am now preparing our fifth garden bed, which is the first to have been worked over by the chickens. The difference is enormous – there is no grass, it is covered in a thin layer of straw mixed with manure and you can actually get a garden fork into it to aerate. I will still be putting a 10cm layer of organic garden mix on top, but it’s a much better starting point.
I am currently planning/planting our Autumn-Winter garden. I’m excited for the cold weather and with it will come planting garlic, brassicas, strawberries and other fun things. More posts to come!