After many years of living in rented apartments (including a memorable one in London where you could touch both walls when standing in the middle of the kitchen) my “garden” has traditionally consisted mainly of a few herb pots. So moving into an actual house for the first time this year also meant the opportunity to establish a vegie patch. This is something I have been lusting after for years in the way I once lusted after Jimmy Choo shoes and Anya Hindmarch bags.
The house sadly didn’t come with a built in vegie patch (that would really have swung the deal) so instead Meat-and-Three-Veg has been constructing one for me. After some research we decided to build a no-dig vegie patch using the Little Vegie Patch Co book and the excellent Tomato Tales blog as a guide. Here’s what we did:
Untreated cypress pine sleepers 6 x 2.4 metre (lengths), 6 x 1 metre (widths) and 6 x 0.6 metre (bracing uprights). You will probably need to buy longer sleepers and cut to size. Our sleepers were 38mm (although 50mm works too) and 200 mm wide.
Timber screws 75mm
Weed barrier mat 1 metre x 2.4 metre
2 bales of pea straw
1 bag of slow release organic fertiliser
1.5 cubic metres of soil/cow manure mix – mushroom composite is also good
1. Line up three lengths evenly, position a bracing upright at either end (with an overhand of 38mm), one in the centre and secure using 6 screws per upright. Repeat with the remaining three lengths and three uprights. You now have two length walls.
2. Position your first length wall and use a sprit level to ensure it is even. Starting from the bottom attach 3 widths to the length wall, using 2 screws to attache each width. Position and attach the remaining length wall and then attach the 2 remaining widths to complete. If you want to paint your vegie box, like we did, now is the time to do it but obviously this is not necessary.
3. Line the base with weed barrier (newspaper apparently also works) to stop weeds growing up into the box. Then add one layer of pea straw. Layer the straw, fertiliser and soil mix alternately finishing with the soil mix on top.
4. Connecting to an irrigation system is easy and if it’s automatic, saves having to think about watering. When you build yoru grid keep the tubes about 25cm apart.
5. Leave to settle for at least a week and then plant! We planted some cherry tomatoes, peas, zucchinis, capsicums, spring onions and lettuce to start (I already have my herbs established in pots). These are all supposed to be “easy” to grow so I have my fingers crossed.
Total cost: about $500 including seedlings. This is cheaper than getting a company (like Little Vegie box co) to do it for you, but obviously takes a lot more effort. Big kudos to MTV for his efforts in building this.
I have grand ambitions of being that person who makes salad with lettuce leaves from their own garden, and has so many tomatoes that they have to bring the surplus into work. I’m new to this game so let me know if you have any tips.