My Raised Veggie Beds

ClissAT

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When I had my hydroponics I used 25mm self tapping countersunk head screws.
They were only screwed in halfway so the mesh could be pulled over them.
It did make a little hole but I never found the hole to get bigger unless I was lazy with positioning the mesh.
In your garden the screws would be located under the sill around top of the bed so you don't catch clothing, etc on them but can still pull the mesh down a little & hook over the screw head.
The mesh held through even the worst storms & strongest wind.
 

Mark

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I forgot to say how good these diy images are of making the raised garden beds and now how to net them from pests.

A pic tells a thousand words, but these are really top images and well explained Kate - thanks for all your effort!
 

Mary Playford

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Impressive! I just love your raised bed setup, they look awesome! I like the logs and fronds idea too. It helps with the drainage and saves on soil cost. The worm towers are neat too, a great way of feeding the worms and utilising kitchen waste. You guys did a fab job, …yay! :D
 

Skippyherron

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Thank you so much Kate!
For all the effort you took to share these gorgeous garden beds with us. Your photos are fabulous along with your explanation. I will be looking back over this post many times in the future. It's so insightful and helpful.
thankyou xx kel
 
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OskarDoLittle

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Hey Kate, any updates on your veg patch? I'm battling the caterpillars (as usual) but did manage to stop whatever was eating my sweet potatoes by building a cover for it.
 

Letsgokate

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Hey things have gone great, until the heat kicked in. I had heaps of tomatoes that I was able to make pasta sauce out of. Had cucumbers coming out my ears, can only eat so many fresh ones. I blended them up with apple juice, very refreshing. Did well with sweet spuds as well. Things under the shade cloth area, did pretty well in the heat. It was me that struggled.

Caterpillars were a big issue with the cucumbers, I did have heaps so we still had plenty for us. Grass hoppers too were a problem, the chooks would get a good feed.

I'm mostly pulling stuff out now, rest the beds a bit and top them up when it cools down and be ready for planting when it's a bit cooler. I'll get some seeds happening soon.

It's just too darn hot out there to do much. I"m thinking summer might be a good time to rest most of the beds and just grow a few things. I've learnt a bit along the way too.
 

OskarDoLittle

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Yup, it's always a learning curve!! I've learned that despite corn supposedly being easy to grow, it too gets attacked by caterpillars and really hasn't been viable for me (5 plants - maybe 1 corn cob that matures). It's certainly not the cost of the seed that's the problem, it's the amount of time invested for practically zero return. I'm testing a few things at the moment to work out if I can manage year-round supply...so far, I've been able to grow zucchini, tomato, pumpkin and sweet potato year round. I have had to overlap plantings as the zucchini in particular get tough skinned in the middle of summer, and when this happens you need a new young plant coming through. I'm going to also try now with thin asian style eggplant. Thai eggplant (very cute) but as Mark once pointed out...VERY heavy on seeds and not too enjoyable to eat, even picked early! Still waiting on canteloupe, watermelon and mango to ripen (not sure why they're taking soooo long)
 

ClissAT

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Yup, it's always a learning curve!! I've learned that despite corn supposedly being easy to grow, it too gets attacked by caterpillars and really hasn't been viable for me (5 plants - maybe 1 corn cob that matures). It's certainly not the cost of the seed that's the problem, it's the amount of time invested for practically zero return....................

.............................Still waiting on canteloupe, watermelon and mango to ripen (not sure why they're taking soooo long)

In the hotter months you really have to watch corn like a hawk as the cob grubs get in early & eat the cobs from the inside. They do leave a tiny hole & a bit of sawdust at their entry point near the base of the cob which is a dead giveaway. Then you have to peel back the top of the cob to find the blighters.
Same goes for silk grubs that eat the silk & prevent fertilization.
I wonder if once the cob begins forming, whether it might be possible to cover each cob with one of those fruitfly bags that are put over tomatoes, apples, etc. You'd have to use long bags to give the cob room to grow.

Oskar, that's strange that your fruit has not yet ripened. Seems way past usual timing since it is now late Feb.

Letsgo, the chooks love those grubs on your cues also. I would stand there several arvos per week with the chooks by my side just pulling grubs off the vines to get a crop.
If you spray with pyrethrum or similar you kill everything including the pollinators.
It's the same problem, either spend the time or kill all the goodies too.
Hard one, that.

re leaving your beds over summer. I think that is wise, particularly this year with so little rain & so much heat.
However you could use the time to plant a cover/mulch crop that would get dug in a week or 2 before you began planting again. If you didn't have water to use it probably wouldn't matter that much that the mulch crop didn't do very well. It would still provide some improver to the soil when dug in.
 
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Letsgokate

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re leaving your beds over summer. I think that is wise, particularly this year with so little rain & so much heat.
However you could use the time to plant a cover/mulch crop that would get dug in a week or 2 before you began planting again. If you didn't have water to use it probably wouldn't matter that much that the mulch crop didn't do very well. It would still provide some improver to the soil when dug in.
Glad I'm not the only one that thinks so, I've found it very hot this summer.

I've done that with the chooks and grubs, I have a pic, I'll post later when I can get onto the computer.

Great idea with the cover crop, what do you suggest so I'm ready for next year?

I've pulled most things out as the beds being new have dropped a fair bit in soil so they all need a top up ready for the cooler months plantings.
 
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Letsgokate

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Speaking of digging things in. My beds have a mulch layer of sugar cane mulch. One has lucern. When I top up the beds with some new soil/compost, I was going to scrap back the mulch and reuse it. Should I dig it in, instead?
 

Letsgokate

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I didn't take as many pics along the way as I should but I have learnt for next time, things can happen quick in the garden. I was really happy with what I grew over the warmer months, before it got real hot.

Tomatoes went really great, I had to bag them due to caterpillars and the chance of fruit fly. I had more than we could eat fresh so stock piled them in the freezer before I made yummy pasta sauce with them. All up I made 11 jars of 1L bottles. :)

Apollo-Tomatoes.jpg


Bagged-Tomatoes.jpg


Pasta-Sauce.jpg


I got loads and loads of cucumbers. Spring onions which I used in the pasta sauce. I dehydrated, Chinese veggies I couldn't eat like Bok choy, Tatsoi and then whizzed it into power to put in mince etc. Grew lots of lettuce until it just became too hot. Didn't do too bad with beetroot and I want to plant more this season. I cooked, sliced and canned them up and wow, sooooo much nicer than bought tinned beetroot. I've bought the rest in which are a bit smaller so I've cooked them up, skinned them and plan to grate them and bottle them tomorrow as shredded beetroot that can be used on sandwiches or salads.

Some very early produce.

Produce.jpg


Capsicums did well as well. I grew, red, yellow, purple, orange and diamond white as shown in the pic. Caterpillars again where the major issue, bagging helped. The Diamond white was the last lot I grew and grew them under the shade tunnel. I dehydrated all the white ones. I've never been a fan of raw capsicums but they were all so sweet, much nicer than any shop bought ones.

Diamond-White-Capsicun.jpg


Sweet potatoes did well and again I've never tasted such yummy sweet spud. Most were of normal size but this one in the middle was huge, coming in over 1.5kg. I grated and dehydrated it.

Giant-spud.jpg


Sweet spuds are planted in raised round beds on their own so not to take over other beds. I only used one bed first time but planted some more slips and did another bed next to it. I did this about 3 weeks ago, they have gone crazy. I hadn't been able to get out there and trim them up until today.

Crazy-Sweet-Potatoes.jpg


Trimmed up.

Sweet-Spud.jpg


And one for @OskarDoLittle want to talk caterpillars. :) These are some I collected last week off the carrot tops. I put them in a jar and fed them to the chooks, more than an inch high in the jar.

Carrot-Catapillars.jpg


One thing that hasn't done well is Zucchini, I know surprising but I think the soil was too rich a mix for them as the leaves kept burning off. I've put some other soil on top of a bed and have planted another lot. Going better but still burning off. Considering summer is when we are supposed to grow them I don't think it's a heat issue.

Main pest issue I had was caterpillars which I wasn't really prepared for and grasshoppers. I don't know if this was worst this year or that is what it is like every year. Been a massive learning curve along the way.

Beds need to be topped up with soil before next lot of plantings. I've got some seeds and bought some new ones today to start seed trays in the shade house this week.
 

OskarDoLittle

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Eeek....those caterpillars are ridiculous! I seem to have very particular types affecting different veg. ClissAT I think my corn grubs are the silk grubs...they seem less interested in the corn, but munch through the silk, so although they grew and were apparently fertilised (I managed to keep most of them off) it made it hard to tell when the corn was ripe as the silks were disappearing.
The caterpillars on the canteloupe and cucumbers are bright green with either 2 white vertical stripes or just plain. I've found trying to selectively hit the infested leaves with pyrethrum spray causes the leaf to die off anyway, so now I just pull the worst leaves off, or pick off the grub if I can. On large vines though, this is near impossible!
Kate I found my zucchinis don't like particular types of irrigation...for some time they were getting overspray from the lawn sprinklers and the fruit would just rot - looked so much like flower tip rot that it took a while to work out what was going on. Once I got rid of the overspray, mine were OK. I did find that my older plants started giving quite tough skinned fruit in the height of summer (?not enough water) and they became a little bitter. I popped in a new seed (1-2 zucchini plants is more than enough for us!) and it's already given us some new fruit. Seems to be coping OK with summer, but does get light afternoon shade. It does sound like perhaps it's getting a bit burnt but whether that's chemical from too rich a soil or sun...well who knows!
Did anyone's sweet potato flower this year? Mine didn't...but they did the year before. So can i just pick them anytime then?
 

ClissAT

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Speaking of digging things in. My beds have a mulch layer of sugar cane mulch. One has lucern. When I top up the beds with some new soil/compost, I was going to scrap back the mulch and reuse it. Should I dig it in, instead?
Yes dig it in, letsgo.

As for what to use as a mulch crop, you can get seed combos from most mail order seed companies, use any out of date seed packs, or just get a handful each of seeds of any cropping type from your nearest rural store.
Seeds your rural store might sell include sorghum, rye, corn, cow pea, mung bean, lucerne, wheat, barley, oats. Don't use grass seed other than rye.
A kg or 2 of chook feed whole grain mix (not with cracked corn) will do the trick too.
Colin Campbell from Gardening Australia had a good combo which I cant remember anymore but a visit to that website should reveal it.
The idea is to sow it thickly, roughly chop it down once & let it return, then once knee height again, dig it in.
Blood & bone with 10% potassium sulphate & possibly also up to equal volume of gypsum dug in with the green crop will break it down properly.

There's an old saying:- if it's green, dig it in; if it's brown, lay it down. That means to dig in green waste but drop brown or dead waste on top of the ground for moisture protection.
But always when digging in anything, added nitrogen & potassium in proper ratio is a must.
The addition of gypsum is to help keep the soil friable & give access to calcium without affecting the pH.
 
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Letsgokate

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My grandson just bought in a moth he found and told me it was a good guy :)

Did anyone's sweet potato flower this year? Mine didn't...but they did the year before. So can i just pick them anytime then?
No mine didn't, I kept waiting for them to do so. They had been in for long enough, so I dug around and pulled one out and it was a good size, and we had it for tea that night. Yum. Then when I saw the big one I was worried about the size of the rest of them so dug them all out, there was lots of small ones too.

Plan is next time to just dig around and use the bigger ones as needed.
 

Letsgokate

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Time I did an update. Things are always happening and growing in the patch. Went away for 3 weeks in June and with all the rain and warm weather here the garden went nuts. I've been busy getting it under control, planting new things and preserving the extra bounty.

Overgrown patch.jpg


Kale takeover.jpg


Tuscan Kale just took over this area, growing much quicker than we could eat it. I actually won't grow this one again, not my favourite to eat. I have some curly leaf growing in there now.

Kale Harvest.jpg


One of the reason I did grow the Tuscan Kale was to be able to dehydrate it, whiz it into powder for use in cooking which I do use. This is a reasonable size basket that I jammed full of Kale.

Kale Dehydrating.jpg


I had 24 trays of Kale like these for the dehydrator

Dried Kale.jpg


Tuscan Kale whizzed into powder.

Beetroot Plants.jpg


Beetroot Harvest.jpg


Many of the beetroots were huge. Trust me they were not that big when we left. I've since, canned most of them, but I dehydrated some Chioggia Beetroot as cooking it they lost the coloured rings. I did raw pack some but I think the colour has mostly gone in them too. Apparently people usually use the Chioggia Beetroot raw.

Chioggia Beets being dried.jpg


Pickled Beetroot.jpg


Dried Chioggia Beetroot.jpg


Went a pretty pink colour when whizzed into powder :)

Cauli gone to seed.jpg


Had some nice small heads of cauliflower before we went but it went to seed :( have planted some more.

Broccoli.jpg


Starting to get some broccoli heads, have noticed it goes to seed quick too if left.

Cabbages.jpg


Red Cabbage.jpg


Cabbages have also gone very well, green and purple ones. I still have loads of them in the fridge to do something with.

Eaten Cabbage.jpg


This one appears to have had something having a good feed on it. It was under the net and I can't see any holes so beats me how it got in there.

Lettuce Harvest.jpg


Lettuce had bolted so I picked what I could and we had lettuce with every meal for a while :)

Purple Bokchoy.jpg


All the Chinese veggies are going great.

Strawberry bed.jpg


First time growing strawberries so very happy with these and they taste yummy. Birds were getting them so I've covered them with a net and go out there with a paint brush when new flowers arrive to pollinate them. Am still getting tiny little ants having a nibble so might have to add some extra mulch or some plastic.

Yellow Zucchini.jpg


Yellow Zucchini doing well, I did loose one plant in the strong winds last week.
 
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Letsgokate

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I have lots of tomato plants in to try and grow a lot in the cooler months for preserving, then in summer to just grow some for sandwiches and salads. The hope was that fruit fly wouldn't be too much of an issue but I'm still have caterpillars so had to bag up the tomatoes still.

Bagged Tomatoes.jpg


Catepillar in tom.jpg


Despite them they are still growing well. Some I grew from seed so pretty happy with that.

Roma Tomatoes.jpg


Tomato Harvest.jpg


Yellow Tomatoes.jpg


Learning along the way which ones I like and don't like. I'm thinking of building a hoop house and growing tomatoes, capscium etc in there.
 
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