Veggie Patches 101 for the Impatient Gardener

I'm impatient. Like, crazy impatient. Luckily though, I'm stubborn enough to see most things through.

So, when I decided I needed more space to grow more veggies, I wasn't going to wait around for my Husband to build more raised beds at his own leisure (I say that like he doesn't work 14 hour days!).

I needed something now. Or preferably, yesterday. 

So, I did what any pro gardener would do and Googled it...

Getting started in growing your own food or expanding your productive garden doesn't have to be complicated. These beds were quick and easy to build and can be made in any shape and size from readily available and reasonably cheap materials.

I used to dream of perfectly manicured English style formal gardens. Then we had kids and got chooks and pigs and a life in general; all things that do not mix well with tidy perfection as many will know. Now my pinterest is filled with rambling edible forests with wonky lines and no particular colour scheme.

The experience of growing our own food has been so fulfilling; the freshness and flavour is unbeatable, I know where our food comes from and its environmental impact, but the main benefit has come in the form of quality time spent as a family. We've spent hours with the sun warming our backs and dirt under our nails in our kitchen garden and the kids are never happier. The boys dangle their bare feet off the edge of the veggie patch with the juice of red ripe tomatoes picked straight off the bush running down their little chins. They know the role of bees and worms and the importance of water and sunlight. It's the bliss of my childhood lived in the garden with my Pop all over again, and its magic.

Anyway, within ten minutes of skimming over the results of my "Instant veggie patch" search, here's what I came up with;

1. Choose a nice sunny spot.

 Tick. We chose a nice North facing slope that had a few straggly fruit trees barely visible amongst the Marshmallow weed. 

The site was like a jungle after all the rain we've had so I mowed a small patch to get me started (I know the photos don't look mowed but this was the best we could do in a 6 foot jungle X wetland- we then rolled down the hill and got bogged).

 

2. Weeds are the enemy . 

The local pub donated all their unsold newspapers to our war against weeds; we put a 3-4 thick layer of overlapping paper down where the beds were to go. The idea is the grass and weeds will be smothered out by the newspaper.  

Hot Tip: slightly damp paper is way easier to work with, especially if there's a breeze.

 

3. Build your soil. 

The newspaper layer was covered in a 4-6 inch deep layer of straw then topped with some sheep manure and blood and bone. 

Finally, a 4-6 inch layer of rich, organic compost was added and Hey Presto! We had a new veggie patch ready to plant directly into.

 

 

We fitted some weeping irrigation pipe for easy and efficient watering and placed poly tunnels over the beds to protect the seedlings from the last of the spring frosts. 

I expect the quality and productivity of these beds to improve over time as the different layers of organic matter decompose and mix together to form really beautiful, fertile soil. More compost will be added to the beds as time goes on to keep building the soil profile. 

It shouldn't be too long before our instant, no dig garden beds are producing abundant amounts of delicious food for our family and long lunches

But for now, its all about the sun on our backs, the dirt under our nails and a little bit of patience...