Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Project Begins: No Dig Vege Gardening Part 1

I decided not long before we went to Australia that on our return I would build a no-dig vegetable garden in our backyard. I did some research (see Other Links of Interest) and got some really great (big) ideas. There is a fantastic spot in our backyard that gets all-day sun, is slightly sloped (good drainage!) but is rocky and virtually devoid of soil. Perfect, in other words, for no-dig gardening.

I constructed the border of the garden (which is roughly 4 x 2 metres) out of surplus firewood logs (it's Arizona: the fireplace was only ever going to be ornamental although we have been known to strike a match and set the fire occasionally). Don't ask me what kind of wood it is, it's not very dense but we don't have a clue what it's called. Anyway, it makes an ideal edge for the garden. The planting medium is made up of layers of cardboard, newspaper, hay, manure and compost. Cardboard and newspaper we had plenty of lying around at home. The hay I was given by a very generous rancher friend of ours (thanks Golden!). The manure I collected from the local corrals. Near the mine there are horse and stock corrals that are rented out to local people. No shortage of organic manure that's for sure, and it's free for the shovelling which is what I did last Sunday morning. It's hot work but well worth it.

The next day my very keen apprentice and I set to work to build the garden. The bulk of it was done in a couple of hours and watered in just before the first summer thunderstorm arrived. No rain but! Thunderstorms mean the monsoon is coming but as yet it's early days and we haven't had any rain. More help the next day from the future market gardener and we have corn and peas planted. The peas I have been growing from seed in containers but they are now ready for their debut in the vege patch. Watch this space for spinach, carrots, bok choy, lettuce, capsicums and more still to come.

Arizona: Take Two

We arrived back in Ay Zee on May 1st after a marathon journey from Perth via Melbourne and LA. It was incredibly long and tiring but at least it was uneventful. We had a wonderful time in Australia and like all good holidays seem to be, it was over far too quickly.

It's good to be back here and to see our American friends again. Summer has definitely started with temps in the mid-30's (that's Celsius, folks) every day. This week the humidity has kicked up a notch and the afternoon thunderstorms have started, signalling the start of the monsoon season.