Vegetable Raised Beds

In October I finally got myself organised to set up my vegetable garden. It took several weekends of fetching and carrying to secure all the components. I collected horse manure and hay from a local horse stables. It was bag your own, so was quite physically exhausting. Who knew manure would weigh so much?

Then I made a couple of trips to the beaches on the south coast to collect seaweed. For couple of weeks, my lawn was piled high in black plastic bags of these goodies waiting for their call to action.

Once the vegetable planter boxes arrived, it occurred to me that the gentle sloping nature of my existing lawn was enough to set the boxes out of level. The instructions also called for stones to lifted the corners clear of the dirt. It killed two birds with one stone, I dry laid some of the bricks salvaged from my old chimney stack to create a footing for the beds. My first attempt was a disaster when I finally checked it with a spirit level. Advice: use a spirit level as you go! I also used a tape measure to check the corners were working out square, but by laying the last brick in, you could see straight away how much you were out by.

Brick planter footing vegetable
Using bricks left over from demolishing my Victorian (and unstable) fireplace, I laid out a level footing for the planter to sit on. The ground gently slopes here and so the bricks are part set into the ground, and part out.
Plywood planter box vegetable
This is how the planter arrived ‘flatpack’ from Trademe
Planter assembled vegetable
Once the planter was leveled up, I turned over the soil a bit to remove the worst of the clumpy bits.
Cardboard weed suppressant vegetable
The base of the planter was lined with thick cardboard in the hope it will suppress the existing weeds from coming through. I did spray the lawn a number of times with nasty chemicals to ward them off. It’s probably the poshest liner for a planter box.
Cardboard planter liner vegetable
More layers of cardboard and newspaper were added, wetting each thoroughly as they piled up. Turning the cardboard up the sides helps too. Some newspaper was added for good measure to cover the small gaps.
Lasagna vegetable
This isn’t quite how lasagna gardening goes as ‘no dig’ gardening method. But in order to bulk out the planter, I used horse manure, horse straw and seaweed. The general advice is to layer ‘brown’ with ‘green’ and so I added some vegetables which had gone to seed for good measure. Here a Cos lettuce has been strewn over the hay before the soil goes in. Everything got a thorough hosing too.
Garden goodies vegetable
A larger planter box with the manure and hay unceremonious dumped in before spreading. Broccoli leaves are the bedding.
Garden goodies vegetable
Unwanted kale and seaweed await a layer of soil. I calculated that volumetrically I would need nearly 4m3 of soil to fill the planters with. That was getting a bit pricey, even as a bulk delivery. I hoped that with all the seaweed, manure, hay and green waste I had collected that it would be enough to bulk out the beds. I ordered 2m3 and ended up having a little bit left over.
Seedlings vegetable
I had been growing seedlings since late July in readiness for the new vegetable garden. Here a tray of Little Gem lettuces in paper pots are the first to be planted out.
Little Gems vegetable
My first vegetable crop

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