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Our Garden of Delights - Part 1 Raised Garden Beds

Since we moved to the Hunter 3 years ago we have wanted a lovely backyard (who doesn't I hear you ask...). And I guess you could call us modern day hippies so a bit of homesteading into the bargain is no big shock.

The hard part was working out between us what we both wanted from the space.

I wanted an organic "The Good Life" style garden to assist in my culinary endeavours and Mike (like all Aussie boys) wanted a nice lawn. And we both wanted somewhere where we could sit under gentle shade and relax or have our wonderful friends and neighbours over for an alfresco aperitif or 3.

This is part one of the story - our raised garden beds which despite some extreme conditions we finally managed to finish last weekend...eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


STAGE 1: PLANS AND PAINT

We spent most of this year going back and forth and many sketches and gentle debates were had.

Then one day with a visit from a friend who knows how to think outside the box and one little suggestion about where we could put a pergola and 'hey presto', our plan was set and it was time to make it a reality.


Firstly we wanted to paint the side of the garage (to test another of our long time ideas for a new colour scheme).



STAGE 2: DEMO(LITION)

We were lucky enough through the wonders of social media to find an fabulous fellow called Mattari who dealt in concreting for the slab for our pergola (+ one for the water tank we are planning next). But who would do our landscaping work as it was simply too big a job for the 2 of us...

We figured Matt must know landscapers as he would work with them when dealing with the slabs. He did us one better and announced that he was also a landscaper - WINNING !


We discovered very quickly that when you give Matt the green light there's NO time to waste ! So on a very hot day he rolled up with his little crew and they got to work removing the existing and very mismatching garden beds, a strange little homemade tiled area and yep - the hills hoist. Marvellous inventions though they are, it was spoiling the view somewhat.

Matt and the team worked incredibly hard over a couple of days and were rewarded with coffee, water and some of my gratefully received baked goods. In return they created us a beautiful blank canvas for the next stage...



STAGE 3: GARDEN BEDS

Gumtree to the rescue this time and we found an amazing small business in Currumbin that handmakes raised garden beds from colourbond steel and recycled timbers that seemed perfect. They also make them to custom sizes AND deliver them. What a pleasure it is meeting people that run these unique Aussie businesses.



STAGE 4: UMMM...

So we had a great landscaped area containing 2 very large garden beds but were scratching our heads. Mike was worried that tending his now wonderful big lawn and getting out the whipper snipper would damage them so some sort of barrier between a man wielding garden tools and our beds was in order. Also - we needed to get them filled so we could actually grow stuff. We had already contacted ANL and worked out the organic mix that would work for the beds and then a random visit to drop off a flower press locally led us to a fascinating chat with a couple of complete strangers that turned out to be like minded souls and which ended with us coming home with 2 large bags of horse poo to add to our organic garden beds.

We'd also been accumulating all our cardboard boxes. They were of course covered in labels and tape so Mike suggested it was too much work. Challenge accepted ! I know being a domestic environmentalist is never easy but it always feels worth it and a couple of hours later we had cardboard, some sand, poo and 3 cubic meters of soil coming any day.


3 cubic metres of soil (of course it rained that day !)

But how to get the soil from the driveway to the beds...enter Matt again !

Sure enough he came to the rescue, edging the beds, putting more turf around and filling them ready for planting.



STAGE 5: GROWING STUFF

Might need some stuff to put in them !

I had been researching complementary planting and what types of things we wanted to grow and of course I wanted them to be as organic as possible so I purchased A LOT of seeds from Eden Seeds in QLD.

I popped some seeds into my trusty window planter box then watched as they very quickly started to appear. If you plants seeds then you know that there's a little happy dance that goes with each new seed that sprouts !



STAGE 6: SHADY DEALS

We always knew we would need some sort of cover - you know how hot it can get in the Hunter Valley but it was now getting VERY bloody hot - what could possibly survive in this ?

Cover was now a big priority so last weekend in very muggy conditions we built a shelter system to provide a bit of sun protection for our little seedlings. We are pretty proud of it actually and 4 days since I planted all our little seedlings I can report that most of them have survived the first hurdle.



Anyone who knows me knows I'm fiercly against using chemicals. We are surrounded by a myriad of birds and animals here so I prefer to opt for plants that attract the 'good pests' to deal with the not so good ones and then be thankful for whatever grows and thrives. I also have a bit of a 'throw it in and see what sticks' attitude to gardening - it's pretty fun - you should try it !


They aren't going to win any 'biggest in show' awards just yet but hopefully we'll be able to show you our flourishing in new garden very soon - wish us luck !





Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this holiday season, have a wonderful time and if you are able to, rest, relax, read a good book, do a happy dance, share good company, wear something outrageous (with some fabulous W&E earrings of course), eat delicious food, enjoy some sunshine and take care.


Cheers

Lou & Mike x



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