Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homegrown - Turning garden waste into a new garden space

Liz from Eight Acres gave me the idea for this next garden. When I wrote a little while back that I had been pulling ivy off our stairs and the landlord was going to take it to the dump for me, Liz commented that I should compost the ivy instead and dig into into my fallow gardens after winter.

Well, I didn't do that. (The landlord carted the ivy off and honestly, I was glad to see it go.) But I did get inspired to turn another pile of branches, soil and weeds into their own garden. You can see the spot I mean in this photo I snapped from my living room window.

The "New garden space" was covered in tree branches when we moved into this house. I then dumped all the earth and weeds I cleared from the carrot garden and broccoli garden on top of that. Those weeds sprouted more weeds, and soon it was an unsightly mess. I wasn't sure what to do with it until Liz's comment inspired me to turn it into a garden of its own.

With the branches underneath providing drainage, and all the weeds mixed through the soil, I'm hopeful this will new garden will actually have lovely rich soil.

The only concern I have is sunlight, since it's right next to the fence we might not get as much sun as would be ideal. I didn't observe this spot last summer, so I'll just have to wait and see how that pans out.

How I'm making the new garden
We had a bit of sunny weather last week, so L and I headed into the backyard while S was sleeping and I got to work on the space. First I found some old boards around the side of the house which I've used to edge the garden off. I really don't want to spend any money I don't have to, so I even hammered a short tree branch into the ground to peg one of the boards in place. I'm now on the lookout for another good-sized tree branch to peg the other board in place with.

The boards determined the size of the garden for me, so once they were in place I started turning the pile of soil over to kill any weeds growing on top.

I wasn't able to stay out there as long as I would have liked, as L lost the plot after a while. Next time I get a chance I plan to peg the other board in place, finish turning all the soil over and dig in sheep manure pellets to rot down until spring. Just before planting, I'll also add in blood and bone, worm castings and worm tea to give my seedlings a boost.

I've spent the last few days planning my spring gardens, and have decided the new garden space will be dedicated to zucchini plants. I should be able to fit about four or five in there.

In case you're curious, here's a shot of the other side of our backyard, so you can see where the broccoli garden fits in. (I've pulled out all the broccoli plants now and dug in sheep pellets to rot down over winter.) The broccoli garden was also edged with old boards I found around the side of the house. Waste not, want not!

This spring I'll use last year's broccoli garden to grow leafy greens such as spinach, silverbeet and lettuce, as well as celery.

The carrot garden will again have carrots, cherry tomatoes, and beans, but I'm going to switch which end I plant them at to rotate things around.

I didn't find cucumbers and peas worth the space they took this year, so I'm going to ditch them and instead might have a go growing broad beans up sweet corn. I'm also going to plant sunflowers next to the corn to help it out, and asparagus crowns next to my tomatoes to help them out. (I've been reading up on companion planting in Xanthe White's book Organic Vegetable Gardening.)

My asparagus crowns will need to go in soon, so it looks like I'll be heading off to the garden centre again.

How are your gardens growing?


  1. Remember that sweetcorn needs to be grown in a block to pollinate itself propperly. Some friends of mine just did a row of corn the first time they tried it and they ended up with a very poor crop.

    - Jessica

  2. Thanks for that Jessica. I didn't know that. Looks like I'll need to rethink my garden plans.

  3. nice to see that I inspired it in a round about way! I do like to mulch my branches, but this looks like another good option, especially in the cold, which I didn't realise was so bad here after we had such a warm winter last year (by the way, did you have any problems with frost this winter?).

  4. Hey Liz, yes you're a big inspiration to me! I can't believe how much you get done in a week!

    We haven't seemed to have any major frosts this winter. But it has been unusually warm. Maybe I'm in for a bad one next year.


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