My veggie garden at the Spring Equinox

I did a post a couple of years ago on my vegetable garden at the Winter Solstice, and thought I might remedy my longstanding blog-neglect with some pretty pictures.

There are two large productive beds in our backyard. When we started renting this house ten years ago, the vegetable beds were just big brick-edged expanses with no internal definition. We’ve tried lots of things over the years, including banked earth beds, simple peg and board edges and fence paling walkways that turned out to be an earwig paradise. You can see that last configuration in the link at the beginning of the post; the boards in the middle of this photo sit where the path lies in the first picture below.

Those methods had been OK, but I was yearning for a more defined feel and better water retention, not to mention being frustrated at continued foot splinters from board paths – I hate wearing shoes in the garden. Finally we’ve got our act into gear. First Owen laid out the beds in the garden at the Western end of the house, edging them with roof tiles bought from the tip shop.

boy path

The little bit of green you can see through the heavy Canberra clay at the bottom left of the path is clover. I chip out everything else that grows on the paths, but clover is such a clever and lovely plant (and so soft and cool underfoot – eventually) that it gets some love. [WRONG! Thanks to Naomi for setting me to rights in the comments. One of the things I love about gardening and cooking is that there is always something to learn. It's oxalis.]

clover

That one is the “boy garden”. Below is the “girl garden” at the Eastern end of the backyard, edged by me over Winter with roof tiles I picked up from the side of the road supplemented with a few purchased extras to finish the central bed with the little fig tree at it’s centre. My friend Katie has already said that those rounded parts look like “saggy old ladies’ boobs” so don’t feel you need to bring that up.

I’m loving myself sick about the paths which I’ve graded down from the external brick edges so the wheelbarrow can get in smoothly. It’s been hugely handy as we’ve barrowed in a trailer load of mushroom compost and half a trailer load of cow manure over the last couple of weekends.

girl garden

I was amazed at how easy it was to make curvy beds with tiles. I did a rough outline with the hose of where I wanted the beds to be, and made sure I had the paths wide enough to turn the wheelbarrow (even if sometimes that means going backwards), but other than that I just started with a mattock, spade and a ho mi and kept going in a continuous line until I was done. I had one tile left when I finished and I felt really very happy I hadn’t spent any time at all trying to calculate how many tiles I’d need. It’s not by any means a perfect job, but it’s completely functional and finished in time for Spring planting and that has to count for something.

The current bane of my existence is the couch grass and other evil plants coming from the neighbours on two sides of this bed. I plan to keep re-digging the couch out of the bed at the near left in the photo as runners are coming through under the boundary brick which is four layers deep. I’ve started planting out the edges between the bed and fence with lemon balm, Jerusalem artichoke and sunflowers to choke out the nasties.

Back in the boy garden, it’s the fourth year for the asparagus, and it’s looking pretty freaking awesome. I found two spears bursting through a few days ago and the next day many more – those little white nubs in the foreground included.

asparagus

The raspberry canes are well settled, seriously well fed and looking great. They’ve started to pop up in the path as you can see at the right of the picture. I don’t know whether it’s worth trying to transplant them back within the bed, so if you’ve done so successfully I would love you to share your expertise.

raspberries

I’ve had trouble trying to work out how we should have pruned them and whether they are Summer or Summer/Autumn fruiting canes – largely because the fruit tends to get gobbled in the garden and rarely makes it into the house. It took me a very long time to work out that was why they seemed less productive than I’d hoped they’d be.

In general the garden is still looking pretty underplanted overall to my eye, but the stalwarts are in place, glorious rainbow chard (and mizuna, parsnip, radish and garlic)

chard

and three waves of broadbeans (the last in the girl bed)

bigger broadbeans

second wave

third wave

The potted things are waking up, too – lemongrass

lemongrass

nettles, and the old bath full of bamboo that shades the concrete slab at the front door

nettles, bamboo

Owy has commandeered the kids’ swing set to grow hops which he’ll use in his homebrew

hops

and, at last, I’ve set up a new nursery area under a shade sail

nursery

17 comments ↓

#1 Lucy on 29.09.11 at 8:08 am

lookin’ good!

love it when you talk garden, zoe. how many rasp canes have you got? how old?

#2 frogpondsrock on 29.09.11 at 8:13 am

You can dig those small raspberry runners out and transplant them anywhere you like. they are as tough as, and will produce fruit in their second year.

My raspberries produce fruit all through the summer then if the weather has been kind they will produce another crop of fruit in the Autumn (maiden fruit).

Try to cut the canes that have produced fruit back to ground level in the winter, this gives the new canes space. Ask me any questions on twitter if you see me about. Love your garden :)

#3 another outspoken female on 29.09.11 at 8:28 am

What a fantastic garden, even moreso when I think of how many times I’ve heard your morning temperatures to be below zero! That asparagus has me salivating.

#4 Zoe on 29.09.11 at 8:53 am

Lucy we bought about three canes from a school fete a couple of years ago, thus the confusion. We’ve just been given a redcurrant too, so got to find somewhere for it!

Thanks frogpondsrock for the raspberry tips! The path is superhard soil, so I’m encouraged that it’s been pissing down raing all night.

And aof, it’s been a long wait on the asparagus, just a few spears each year to build up the strength of the plant. Hoping for bounty this year! I’m going to hunt down your nettle recipes and make a Spring sorrel and nettle soup. My nana would die to think I’d exchanged a pot of purslane (a weed as far as she was concerned) for one of nettles (another weed).

#5 Steve on 29.09.11 at 9:21 am

Hi Zoe-love the garden, a real ‘working and productive one’, the tiled edges look great. I’ve changed this year from always beeing a raised bed gardener to now having our beds straight into the nourished soil-time will tell…

#6 kate on 29.09.11 at 9:47 am

Looks lovely Zoe, even if you did induce a heart attack in the Bloke here when you said “I hadn’t spent any time at all trying to calculate how many tiles I’d need” because he’s just spent a fair bit of time calculating, and then laying bricks along string lines.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised this spring to see my rhubarb come back, it seemed to rot in the heavy rain last spring so I didn’t have any hope.

#7 dylan/dylwah on 29.09.11 at 9:54 am

Looking good Zoe. i esp envy your asparagus, mine has not worked in its spot, i’m hoping that it will struggle on a bit more so i can find it and transplant it. on the other hand, my cherry toms are looking good and established and the corn popped up yesterday. i spent a couple of weekends in full on procrastination mode this month and the garden is looking ok, as long as lawn isn’t your thing.

#8 Tammi on 29.09.11 at 10:49 am

Fabulous, Zoe. I love the tiles and curvy old-lady boobs. And it’s *killing me* to see all your lovely baby & winter plants in the ground while we wait for pigs to come & dig our new giant vegie garden for us!! We just have a bajillion pots with seeds newly planted so far… I also can’t wait to finally plant asparagus! You’re an inspiration, darling Zoe. :-)

#9 Nababov on 29.09.11 at 11:47 am

Tasty!

“I had one tile left when I finished and I felt really very happy I hadn’t spent any time at all trying to calculate how many tiles I’d need. ”

Sometimes good project management is about intuition as much as experience. Got any gnomes or local fertility spirits installed yet?

#10 Dr Sister Outlaw on 29.09.11 at 12:55 pm

It looks fantastic and the girl garden does not look at all like saggy lady bosoms, but instead resembles the form of the splendid goosenecks of the Colorado River.

Raspberries do fruit in spring and autumn so ditto the advice to cut back the canes that have fruited. When I get an autumn flush off the spring growth I get hopelessly confused and wonder just what I should cut. This spring I’m finding it works if you leave upright canes that are growing where you want them – they shoot out the sides and tops and fruit for you a second time.

There’s just one thing … that ain’t clover. It’s oxalis. Leaving it where it is is fine – you can’t dig it out, you just have to step on it and rip off its head and make it suffer for ever trying to live with you. It is pretty though and I’ve learned not to freak out when it makes its presence known in my garden. Couch and kikuyu are far worse weeds.

#11 Zoe on 29.09.11 at 1:19 pm

A-ha! I thought that was too easy! The school gardener at Sage’s school has sown clover on the garden paths and I’ll do the same. It’s no trouble to get out the oxalis from the paths, so I shall destroy it. I thought oxalis was (I now realise) onion weed. Thanks for the learnings on that and on the raspberries :)

#12 librarygirl on 07.10.11 at 7:55 am

Loving those tile edges – I think I need to steal that idea.
First saw that done at Mavis’ kitchen restaurant at Murwillimbah a while ago but seeing yours has jogged my memory, thanks. Vegies looking fabulous too.

#13 Anthony on 08.10.11 at 7:37 pm

Looks great, Zoe. I must admit I largely go for cover crops over winter (oats, mustard, fenugreek etc) with some Tuscan Kale interspersed. AFL Grand Final Day is the signal to begin to prepare beds for summer planting; Melbourne Cup Day the day to plant out tomato seedlings.

#14 Pete @ Perfect Meatloaf on 28.11.11 at 12:03 pm

Hey Zoe, you guys have done a terrific job on your garden. I just started mine this year for the first time and hope i can get some tips from your blog.

#15 Julie-Anne Geddes on 02.12.11 at 8:37 am

Your garden’s awesome! Hope it’s still traveling well. I blogged about our new vege garden a couple of days ago. It’s a new found excitement for me. And thanks for setting the record straight on vulva and vagina!

#16 Banglarecipes on 02.12.11 at 3:51 pm

very encouraging to see your garden… i have atiny kitchen garden too…

#17 Banglarecipes on 02.12.11 at 3:53 pm

very encouraging to see your garden… i have a tiny kitchen garden too…

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