While most of our property has a great layer of fertile top soil, near the house is a different story. We did a site cut where we put the house, so all the top soil was moved to allow for a large flat house site, exposing the heavy clay soil underneath. Clay soil needs a lot of work if you want it to support something like a vegetable garden. Instead of working the soil, we opted for raised beds. However, the soil was only one consideration for the garden design. The other benefit of raised garden beds is that the elevated height makes accessing your vegetables much easier – no sore back bending over all the time! Not to mention, raising garden beds can allow for some lovely garden designs.
In my head, in my dreams, I had envisaged some of the gorgeous gardens of Europe…
But then reality hit home. I could ask my husband to build those intricate designs, and it might never get built. Or I could stick to a simple design and have it built in a couple of weekends. So I stuck to rectangles and squares.
Another design consideration, was the keep the width of as many gardens beds as possible to the exact length that the timber came in. Minimal cuts in the timber meant a much quicker job and a way more obliging husband. I also left two larger corridors so that the ride-on mower with the tipper trailer attached could fit between the beds. This means that when we are turning beds, adding straw or doing any number of jobs, we won’t have to make multiple trips with the wheelbarrow.
Once the design was agreed on, my husband scanned my plans and designed the watering system for the beds. Eventually we will link up the watering system to our weather system. This way, the rain gauge will inform the watering system and if it has rained, or is about to rain the beds won’t be watered!
Before we began building, my husband layed out the lengths of timber, just to check it was going to work and that what looked good on paper, would look nice in reality.
My husband built the base of the beds first, then ran the pipes underneath them, hooking up the taps in each bed as he went. Next he laid out the second level, using glue to stick them together, before securing the ends with screws.
As each garden bed was finished, he filled it with soil. He did it bed by bed as once the beds were built, the tractor wouldn’t fit in. And with 40 tonnes of soil to put into eighteen garden beds – the tractor was a great time saver. And knowing he had eighteen beds to fill, he built a slide to make tipping the soil in easier without any spillage. He’s a little bit tricky!
And this is where we get to the part where things on paper look a lot smaller than they turn out to be in reality. Our potager garden is HUGE! Seriously, I think we could supply a restaurant… Lucky for us, nearby Yass has a food swap program. And then, there is always family and friends to give food away to!