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Advice need for Re-starting the vegie garden

Home Forums FOOD PRODUCTION, HARVEST AND STORAGE Vegetables Advice need for Re-starting the vegie garden

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    Last summer we started our vegie garden as the ground as a raised no-dig bed 10m x 2m, using colourbond tin for the edges. We layered it with newspapers, straw, lucerne, sheep, chicken and horse poo and I think some blood and bone.

    We planted a few seeds and seedlings and thanks to summer heat, bugs, rabbits, dogs, chickens and horses it was a rather big disaster. Over winter the seeds in the barley straw has sprouted and we had a vegie patch of 2ft high barley growing.

    Sadly I can’t blame all the pests for killing the vegie patch as I have a very brown thumb (which I am determined to change!)

    This week I cut all the seeds off the barley (for the chooks) and have pulled the barley out to find everything has turned into a lovely rich compost with heaps of earth worms:)

    Before we plant anything, we are ordering GrowCover for the bed which will hopefully help with bugs and will have an electric fence erected around it to keep the horses off, and the chicken yard is secure so they can’t get in either.

    I would like to prepare the bed for seedlings and seeds to be planted in a couple of weeks but not certain what is the best way to go about this now. We live in the country and supplies are hard to get, but a trip to Bunnings in a larger town today has added a few things to my supply list:

    Soil pH tester, sugar cane mulch, and some bags of potting mix and blended manures (cow, sheep, chicken) and we also have some bales of straw, and a fair bit of newspaper.

    The plan is to start the seeds off in a small shade house then plant them – we are trying to re-use and recycle whatever we can, we have a heap of seedling trays and I’m planning on using loo rolls and potting mix instead of jiffy pots – and each seedling will be planted roll and all so the roots are not disturbed.

    So the first things I would love some advice with is what the ph level should be in general?

    Then for preparing the beds, if we layer the newspaper (to help prevent weeds) then mix the straw, sugar cane mulch and the blended manure on top will that be suitable? We also have some black plastic that we could lay on top for a few weeks to make sure no weeds germinate if that would help?

    Is there anything glaringly obvious wrong with this plan?

    The vegie patch is divided in two sections, and one section did not have as much lucerne and other things added to it – mostly just horse poo and newspapers. There are also lots of earth worms in there but many of the poo ‘balls’ have not broken down completely but are actually white, with the look and texture of white clay. This section of the bed is alot wetter than the other side and has had some mushrooms growing in it and the barlery grass was a lot thicker and taller so the soil was pretty dark.

    I’m just a bit concerned that this white clay like substance is something that will affect the vegetables or us eating the vegetables? The horses hadn’t been wormed prior to poo collection so its not related to that.

    Thanks for any advice and suggestions!



    You sound incredibly organised.

    It sounds like the wetter side of your vegie bed has higher nitrogen content than the other side. That might be a result of the horse poo. I would try growing your leafy crops and herbs on that side this summer and your fruiting crops on the other. Leafy crops need more nitrogen than other crops.

    Don’t give in … I’m not sure where you live but the most important thing (after getting the soil right) is to work out what grows well in each season.

    In case you are in a subtropical area like Brisbane, I would recommend starting summer with beans, okra, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, pumpkin, melons, corn, sweet potato, rocket, asian green and mediteranean herbs.

    I would avoid: peas, broccoli, cabbage or hearting lettuce varieties.

    Sorry – can’t help with the pH. I’m a ‘bung it in and see how it goes’ kind of gardener rather than a scientific one (though I would like to be more scientific because I can see the benefits).


    Welcome to ALS Standies. Here is a list of ideal soil PH

    Your new garden reads like a no dig one but I wonder if you actually have enough”dirt”‘ to grow veges and too much straw and sugar cane. Tomatoes for instance have quite a big root system, and carrots need at least 9 inches( is that 20 cms? I am old school) of soil.

    Here is info on No Dig


    I woudnt use plastic for anything it sweats and rot things.

    You also need to go out to the garden everyday to check on things. Carrots for instance need to be lightly sprayed to keep moist, till they come up. Beans dont need too much water as they will rot. Climbing beans need to be trained up trellis’s or they will sprawl everywhere and not do too well. There is plenty of info out there on individual plants read up on them.

    Obviously keeping animals out of your vege patch is no 1 solution. Bugs can easily be stopped. I have just covered my peachcot with a mosquito net which works perfectly against fruit fly, and my mulberry with a bird net to stop them eating my lovely fruit.

    Herbman’s advice is also great check out the pictures of his garden blog at Mt. Cotton.

    Take some pictures, it is much easier to give advice when you can see whats what.

    Each year you become a better gardener even if the garden fails, so keep going.:tup:


    Thanks Herbman and Kasalia.

    LOL I am not usually an organized person, far from it in fact, but living in the country without a local Bunnings gives us time to think and research what we need (usually);) I would also much prefer the ‘bung it in’ approach but sadly that is probably the reason for my brown thumb and notoriety at killing plants…so I am trying to control the urge to jump in feet first and loose everything again!

    kasalia, I am not sure if we have enough dirt – everything that went in last year has broken down to probably 15-20cm of rich composty type ‘dirt’ – we havn’t added the new straw and sugar cane mulch yet, but we are planning on a layer of about 10cm I think mostly to act as a mulch.

    Under the compost layer is soil, which in our property is mostly gravelly loam – in summer it goes rock hard but I hope that having the compost on it all winter has made it nice and soft for the plant roots to grow into.

    We live too far away from anywhere that sells soil so we can’t bring it in. I did buy myself a plastic sieve at Bunnings and I am considering getting some topsoil from one of my paddocks, removing the gravel and using that in the vegie patch as well.

    We are in the south west of WA – between Perth and Albany. Summer days get very hot, cool at night and winter is colder than Perth and regularly get -2 to -5 degree nights and heavy frost.

    I will get some pictures and post them to make it easier to see what I am talking about:)




    Kasalia’s advice about taking pictures is excellent. My gardening has improved ten-fold since I started keeping blogs and photographic records of my successes and “lessons”. My thread here on ALS is a bit out of date but I’ll try to kick it off again when I get home from holidays this week.


    Welcome Michelle

    Just a tiny piece of advice if you are going to raise your own seedlings. Make sure you use seedraising mix, NOT potting mix.

    Good luck with the vegetable garden.


    Hi Standies

    I wouldnt worry too much about the PH side of things. If you get everything else right the PH usually follows. Maybe you could add some more blood and bone and mulch the top well with straw to prevent more weeds growing while you are waiting for your seedlings. I would avoid the black plastic as it will just turn everything sour and you dont want that. Keep plodding away at it and one day as you pick a huge crop of something wonderful you will wonder where your brown thumb got to!!!!!!!!;)


    Thanks for the tip, I will try and get some seedling mix tomorrow as I only have potting mix!

    Thanks weaver, I feel a bit more confident this afternoon, after pulling the rest of the barley grass out and turning the soil a bit to loosen up some of the old straw/manure that had formed into cakes and adding some loam from the paddock, the ‘dirt’ in there now looks like its ready to grow some vegies! (lol made the kids sift the loam to get rid of the gravel etc, despite the grumbles and complaints they did a good job and ended up putting five wheelbarrows of lovely rich loam into one of the beds).

    I guess it must be fertile enough because the barley growing in there was thicker and taller than any of the barley I have seen growing in the paddocks anywhere near here;)

    I am sure there is going to be more weed/barley growth come through so a thick layer of straw to help that sounds like a great idea.

    I managed to get some photos of the vegie bed, but not of the soil which is a rich dark chocolaty colour some of it is moist and crumbly and some is moist and ‘cakey’ if that makes sense – but turning it with the fork seems to break the cakey clods up quite well.

    The end of the colourbond bed is pretty much south (in the direction closest to my horse) the bed gets maximum sun both summer and winter (the big trees in the paddock that horse is in is west of the vegie patch and they cast shadows late in the afternoon summer and winter.

    I have about 14 fruit trees, some outside and some new ones inside the chicken pen.

    This one shows the sole survivor of last years garden – I thought it was parsley but it might be another herb starting with ‘C’? It has a purple stalk anyway.

    We will be adding polypipe hoops over the bed to hold the GrowCover up and will also be putting polypipe reticulation in – the beds are a little wide at 2m so we were thinking of putting a row of bricks or stepping stones down the centre of the bed to make tending the bed easier, and will most likely use polypipe with small 360degree riser sprayers down the centre of the bed.

    Eventually we plan to have more of these beds, each one dedicated to a couple of vegies (companion planting) which we can then change the vegies each season to help the soil.

    Does this sound like a good or bad plan? We are on tank water so have to be very careful of water useage. (Don’t yet have a grey water system set up). We’ve also got some of that drip hose that we are going to cut into small lengths to encircle the fruit trees and connect them to polypipe connected to a tap on a timer.

    Definitely will be recording our progress on our blog, I think its a great way to record things and a good way to share things with our ‘cityfolk’ relies:)

    We arn’t particularly adventurous when it comes to vegies, so our variety will be limited to our favourites: carrots, cauli, brocoli, lettuce, snow peas, tomoatos, potatoes, cucumber, capsicum, plus watermelon, strawberries our fruit trees and a herb garden. I’m also planting marigolds, nasturtiums and giant sunflowers to give the chooks shade this summer while the tagasaste tree grows.

    Fingers crossed that I havn’t bitten off more than I can chew!

    sue esue e

    you are going so well standies. i usually just throw weeds back on to the garden under the mulch to make them give back what they took from the soil. black plastic is deadly as it kills all the little soil organisms that make humus etc. so definitely give it a miss. with all that organic matter in the soil together with mulch you should be able to manage your water quite well. i think that herb is coriander(yum is hard to grow here in summer)you could just chop the barley up and dig it in kinda like a green manure. well done! successes and failures are all part of the learning curve that’s what makes it so addictive!


    I agree with Sue e and think that it is Coriander you are growing there. The bed looks fantastic and you sound like you have put heaps of thought into it.

    I dont think you have bitten off more than you can chew just dont add to it until you have what you already have well under control or you end up with a giant weed patch (believe me I have done it :rip:)

    Enjoy the process as well as the end product.


    Have really enjoyed reading this thread, standies and congrats on uploading LOTS of photos at once!!! Most of us have enough trouble with one at a time!! BTW – make sure you like coriander before you grow it , or leave it in your veggie bed. It’s a love it or hate it herb.Self seeds like crazy around here.I love herbs but I CAN”T STAND coriander leaves!! I have always thought it smells and tastes like stink bugs, so I was delighted to learn recently that the name coriander comes from the Greek word “koris” , meaning “bedbug” as it has a similar smell. Sorry to spoil it for anyone who likes coriander !!! The seeds are OK, quite pleasant tasting, nothing like the leaves. All the best for your veg patch, standies.


    LOL I’m not sure if we like coriander…umm I’m not much of a cook either;) But its the only thing that survived since last summer, so for the time being it can take pride of place in the vegie bed!

    I bought a few seedlings to get started (carrots, tomatos, strawberries an a couple of others) and have finally placed my order with edenseeds so I have the following coming:

    Tansy, Climbing Bean, Detroit beetroot, Broccoli (Di Cicco Early, Marconi red Capsicum, New Curoda Carrots, Snowball Cauliflower, Tall Utah celery, Muncher Burpless Cucumber, Iceberg Lettuce, Creamgold Onions, Mammoth melting snowpeas, Waltham Butternut Pumpkin, Lucullus Silverbeet, Amish Paste tomato, and Warpaint watermelon.

    Now all I have to do is work out which ones to plant where!

    I also bought 3kg of Delaware seed potatoes from Bunnings which I am going to make wire cylinder cages to grow them in rather than beds so that I can grow them in the chook yard with the sweetcorn (fenced off from teh chooks).


    Hi Standies

    Tansy is a perennial so plant it somewhere that you want it to stay rather than in your annuals bed.

    Sounds like the addiction is kicking in!!!!!


    congrats on restarting your veggie patch! can’t wait to see how you get on once your seeds sprout 😀


    Did your “Coriander” grow to about 60cm high and have small white or pale mauve Umbeliferae flowers before it got masses of little brown seeds, and then die right back in the winter? It is an annual and I’m not quite convinced from the pic that what you have is coriander. But just crush and smell the leaves ………. STINK BUGS!! That will tell you for sure.:lol: 😆

    Now we know you are so good at loading pics we will expect lots!! All the best with your garden. Standies.

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