I’ve been visiting a nearby friend a lot recently and taking her something from the garden each time.
She’s rapt to receive fresh organically grown vegetables, especially varieties not available in the supermarket.
So much so, that she’s keen to put in her own veggie garden and I’ve been helping (oh dear, that’s another one I won’t be able to offload zucchinis onto).
We started small by installing a single water-wicking box:
There’s a wire trellis behind it and climbing beans are just starting to reach for the sky. There’s silver beet, chives and kale in the back row, and lettuces in front (the kale is surrounded by a circle of wire mesh to keep the Cabbage White Butterfly out). I dug up a cherry tomato seedling from home and planted it beside the box, where it receives the nutrient overflow from one of the drainage holes (the soil here is pretty poor; grey sand with not much organic matter) and it’s going well and is flowering. I hope she’s going to get a reasonable yield from it before the cool weather comes:
She found an old recycling crate (with holes in the bottom), so I lined that with heavy-duty plastic and made it into a second wicking box. That’s only just been planted, with basil, parsley, celery and more lettuces:
In the meantime, I’d bought the planter boxes I recently installed and she was eyeing them off speculatively. So the next thing that went in was—you guessed it—a planter box. The only suitable place for it was on the lawn, beside a path which gave good access to it, was near a tap for watering and she could see it from the kitchen window (important for monitoring Cabbage White Butterfly activity and mulch-tossing blackbirds). The lawn is inches-deep kikuyu and we two (a 60-something and an 80-something) paled at the thought of digging it out, so a little glyphosate was reluctantly applied:
The bottom third of the box has been filled with coarse prunings. Over that we’re layering horse poo and lawn clippings and will top it all off with purchased mushroom compost and some of my home-made compost. A wire trellis behind will enable her to grow climbing beans in the summer and peas through the winter. The coarse prunings will slowly rot and the material will gradually settle but we’ll keep topping it up with compost and add worms from the worm farm (I forgot to mention….she has put in a worm farm and they are the most pampered worms; they even get their food vitamised!).
We left a space of about 30 cm between the box and the path and I plan to plant comfrey, lemon balm and yarrow there as dynamic accumulators to pick up any nutrients washed down through the box. These can be regularly slashed and added to the box, under the sugar cane mulch (what my permaculture teacher, Cam Wilson, called the ‘chop & drop’ method).
She’s now eyeing off another section of lawn and I expect any day to be informed that she’s ordered a second planter box!