How does your garden grow?

As I suggested in my Sustainability in the Supermarket post, I am really missing being able to get fresh, local, fruit & veg from a Farmers Market, since the move north. So what does a sustainability nut do in that position? They convince their lovely husband to build some raised garden beds, and shovel large amounts of horse poo, so they can grow their own vegies.

The Husband used some old hardwood pallets that I collected from work to make the garden beds, then we lined them with weed mat, just to make sure we didn't have our precious soil leaking out anywhere. Then we loosely followed the method for a no-dig garden that Stephanie Alexander describes in her book, The Kitchen Garden Companion.

Some components were quite tricky for us to find in Port Hedland, so we had to make adjustments, so I ended up with the following layers;

  • 5mm newspaper
  • 1 bale lucerne (approx 10cm)
  • watered in with bokashi bucket juice diluted in a watering can
  • 10cm horse poo from local pony club
  • 6L water with 8 teaspoons Yates water crystals, smushed in to the poo
  • 1 bale pea straw (approx 10cm), soaked (in a wheelbarrow, or on a tarp)
  • watered in with bokashi bucket juice diluted in watering can, plus pea straw soaking liquid
  • 10cm horse poo from local pony club
  • 6L water with 8 teaspoons Yates water crystals, smushed into the poo
  • all topped with 6 bags mushroom compost

I then watered it all in well, left for 1 week to settle a bit, and planted! Given how hot & dry it is up here, we also installed reticulated drippers, that run for 30 minutes every morning.

Initially I planted cos lettuce, basil, capsicum, tomatoes and sugar snap peas. The lettuce, tomatoes & basil were definite successes, the capsicum & sugar snaps, not so much. The second garden bed was asian vegetables (a mixed seed packet - tatsoi, chinese broccoli, pak choy), spring onions and parsley. The asian vegetables were successful, but the spring onions have failed miserably, and the parsley is about 50/50. But working out what vegetables really work for your garden is part of the challenge. What your family will actually eat, and what grows well in your climate & garden bed location, are all factors in deciding if something will be a repeat plant. For us, basil, asian vegetables and lettuce are definite repeats, I'm unsure on the tomatoes, and I am keen to give snake beans and kale a go next. 

We're also lucky enough to have an established mango tree in our back yard, which has just started fruiting (yum!) and have also planted lime & pomegranate trees, which are flourishing, but probably 1-2 years away from giving us any fruit.

Do you garden? Have you been surprised by some of your successes?