|trees that fell like dominoes|
|more trees to clean up|
|Our Spring in March this year|
|It was just mud|
|trees that fell like dominoes|
|more trees to clean up|
|Our Spring in March this year|
|It was just mud|
I am amazed at some of the things called ‘RAISED BEDS’ I see advertised or in articles, whether for sale new or plans for do it yourself, these are NOT raised beds but CONTAINERS. They are filled with all sorts of growing medium and people think they are growing healthily vegetables. Please think again.
Healthy food comes from healthy soil.
I know, I’ve heard it all before ‘my soils no good’ Well the essential art of gardening is to enhance the cycle of life by finding ways to restore humus to the soil. All gardeners find their own way to achieve this. All Soil can be improved, sure it may take time but quality produce only comes from quality soil. As you observe your soil .like any other living thing it is always changing and telling its own story. There is more life beneath the soil than above therefore you need to encourage and cultivate its existence.
Understanding your soil is a basic requirement for the success of your veggie garden. You can build tremendous satisfaction from working with the soil, building its tilth, fertility & water holding capacity.
2000 years ago the Greeks noticed that plant life thrived on landslips. Loose soil allows air, moisture, warmth, nutrients and roots to properly penetrate the soil. In the 1920’s the biodynamic method brought back the raised bed plantings
The curved surface area between the 2 edges of the bed provide more surface area for planting and the penetration and interaction of the natural elements than a flat surface . They also have the advantage of being raised (10-30cm) above the surrounding area adding more life, increasing soil depth, air, more earthworms, and micro organisms and with improving drainage.
Beds can be any length, ideally 1 metre wide so you can easily reach across the bed.10-30 cm higher than the original surface.
The preparation of the raised bed is most important
I feel gardens need to be dug especially in the beginning. The tired and compacted soil needs to be woken up, loosened and aerated. Roots from nearby trees that are invading will need digging out. Try to only dig the topsoil. All the life is there. Traditional double digging is a good method to use. In addition the top few cm of soil from the pathways can be dug out and added to the bed. Over time the more compost you add, on a seasonal basis, the lighter the soil becomes.
Modified Raised Beds
Raised beds can be surrounded by a structure. They should be between 10-30cm high. Although this reduces the surface area it contains the soil. It’s an ideal system on slopes and terraces.
It is a disadvantage if there is any risk of running type grasses e.g. couch, kukupa.
Tree roots seek out rich soil and water, invading cultivated beds robbing the plants of nourishment and stunting their growth. They should be dug over as often as needed depending on the severity.
I have used small permanent raised beds for the past 30+ years. When I started the site of my garden was part of our driveway, highly compacted soil mixed with gravel that sloped away. The tilth improved quickly with raised bed and good biodynamic compost and within a couple of seasons you only required minimum effort to grow anything.
To make the beds
Mark out your bed & foot paths. Dig over the bed area . If you think it’s too much work, remember that this is a once off job and it does not have to be done instantly, take your time and you will be surprised how much your soil will reveal about itself as it’s awakened.
Top soil from the surrounding area (footpaths) is added and then the soil can mounded up to form a bed approx 1 metre wide - this will increase the soil depth and improve the drainage quite dramatically .Do not dig into the sub soil layer.
Quality humus rich compost is dug into the beds *If in the beginning you do not have any compost there are many ‘organic’ fertilisers on the market. Be careful when choosing, for many have added soluble fertilisers. Such as Nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P) for the future go and learn how to make quality compost.
· The beds can now be planted.
· As the beds warm up & plants become established they can be mulched.
· Simple really
If you make the effort this is the opportunity, as there is nowhere else on this earth like your garden, with its own combination of soil, micro climate, microorganisms and YOU. As you interact with your garden, no matter how small, you put your stamp on it and contribute to its individuality and not just have fresh produce but have fresh produce rich in the earth’s own energies that are truly good for you and your family.
Nobody else will be able to produce vegetables that taste quite the same as yours. What could be better than eating food grown in your unique garden?
Isn’t it interesting that if you wait long enough what you do becomes trendy. For 30+ years we have created a wholistic garden & farm, ‘Garden Quality Farming” in balance with its surroundings. Although it is a commercial orchard it is also a system that embraces the whole and provides opportunities to learn the many skills that have been lost through the generations. A successful example of such a lifestyle is rare let alone so close to a major city and costs the public purse nothing.
Whether its educational farm tours that show the overall diversity & balances that can be achieved on any scale.The home orchard , vegetable & herb gardens or natural fibre gardens its all here along with the natural habitat areas, creeks and orchards.
Here everything has its place under the cosmos and everything interacts with everything else creating a wholistic system. To achieve such a system takes planning, work and definitely does not happen overnight or in fact after several years. Once the quality environment starts to click into place you can then consider the quality food & lifestyle benefits.
When you live a lifestyle in harmony with nature you can have time enjoy your surroundings. What for example is the value of watching a fledgling wattle bird learning to fly or finding a koala in a tree you planted as a 6 inch seedling or walking through the clouds of the common brown butterflies in summer or simply observing the seasons as they pass by.
When it comes to food we can boast regular ‘meals that money can’t buy’ everything from the gardens including the wood to cook it. Just as a typical example we can start with goose liver pate- with homemade bread, roast goose or rooster stuffed with fruit and herbs depending on the season, mixed roasted vegetables including carrots, parsnips, garlic, beetroot, onions, fresh greens, chestnut puree (Speciality of the house) followed by a desert with berries, fruits nuts either fresh or preserved to choose from, homemade beer, fruit wines and liqueurs and importantly the time and company to enjoy it.
To create a lifestyle based on quality environment, food/flavour, lifestyle you need to first jump into the slow lane so you can enjoy it and then creatively take what ever bit of earth you have be it large or small and get it into balance and harmony because nowhere else in the world will food taste the same as it does from your soil, climate under your human care.
Never forget agriculture (& therefore gardening) at its most basic level is the solar gift and work is love in action.
The raspberry harvests have just begun and are available now in 200g punnets.
Other jams include plum and walnut, rhubarb and elderflower, fig, quince to name a few. Ever popular fruit vinegars made which make refreshing summer drinks or salad dressings are available in mulberry, elderberry or red currant. Elderflower cordial also makes a refreshing summer drink or add it to your whipped cream in place of sugar. A selections of Deb’s baskets are also available. Our farm shop is opened daily from 10am -6pm. You may have to cooee to attract attention from time to time as we will also be picking the raspberries.
We DO NOT have pick your own we believe top quality produce needs to be both grown and harvested in the best way.
This afternoon we spent harvesting some wonderful honey from our 2 hives. It was great to see fully capped frames after a disappointing harvest last year. It’s always a great experience although at times a bit stressful .The next harvest will be after Christmas when the chestnuts have finished flowering. Chestnut flowers produce really special honey.
Awoke to large piles of icy hail around the place , 43.5 mm in the rain gauge for the past 24 hours and more rain,hail and wind on the way I headed to the polyhouse to get things done.Normally in winter polyhouse there are daily harvests of greens for us and the chooks. Our flock require a large basket full of greens to be blended into their mash daily and the outside gardens never grow fast enough in winter to keep up.
This year has been quite different as I was out of action from Spring to Autumn with firstly with a broken leg (Thanks to neighbours goat, which is still managing to climb the fence to my vegies garden.) Then a new knee! Over this time the polyhouse became covered in lovegrass whose seeds latch on to your clothes and was proberly responsible for the invention of Velcro. To remove this weed required me to wear a polyester type bee suit,and long gumboots and still some seeds ended up on my socks.Once removed the beds where dug over to remove invading roots , the soil had mineralized , which means when you push the spade in you hear a crunching sound similar to putting a spade into gravel or the grittiness of potting soil or when compost has been left too long.
It was now late May and getting too late to plant most things even in side.
The two centre beds had some of my humus rich compost dug in and where planted with brought in brassicas seedings and lettuce,kale and silver beet seedlings from my garden. The outside beds where left dug over and watered to get the weeds to germinate and today I dug them in as a green manure and then stirred some biodynamic barrel compost and treated all the beds. Next week I will dig in some humus rich compost and do another stirring of barrel compost and it will be ready for spring planting and some biodynamic 500 to get an early start for the summer vegies.