New mission: Playing jigsaw puzzles with Birdies Garden Beds.

Grandmother Goose

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Jun 30, 2021
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Location
Broken Hill NSW
Climate
Arid, Desert, or Dry
A couple of year ago (wow, has it really been that long?) I bought some small Birdies garden beds to use as tree planters for a little espalier tree garden, because large sections of my yard are sitting on an excessive amount of rock which isn't very conducive to having anything much grow besides weeds. I planted some marigolds between them, and when the marigolds passed on, I collected the seeds from the ones I most liked, and planted some little bush beans in their place.

New mission: Playing jigsaw puzzles with Birdies Garden Beds.


I found that having to bend down to pick the beans made me feel older than I actually am very quickly, although I persisted, the plants grew better than anticipated, and they also persisted much longer than anticipated. I got so many beans off them that I couldn't even give that many away at the time, and after I had no more space in the freezer, I eventually just let them go, stopped watering them, collected enough dried beans to plant a lot more in the future, and let the ground level of the garden suffer and die back, because I wasn't going to be bending over that far to deal with it anymore, it was just too hard.

All the trees went into bloom last Spring, along came a Spring windstorm and blew all the blossoms off the trees, and that was the end that that season of fruit... or so I thought. Somehow both my peach trees managed a full load of fruit each, my sugar plum managed to grow 4 plums, and two of my apple trees maintained one apple each. It seemed weird to nurture a single apple on each tree, but I did it anyway and they were both delicious enough to be worth it, or at least I thought so. If nothing else it gave me a taste of what was to come, which was great.

That's where the joy of this garden ended. My dog started getting into the garden and digging and making a mess, and ate my little banana pup. I put the green garden wire around to stop him, and it did, he saw that as a "not allowed in there" and didn't go in there anymore even though he could have jumped over it easily enough. Then I got stuck puppy sitting someone else's dog, and that dog had no issues with jumping the little garden fence and digging things up, and my dog decided that looked like fun and started doing it too, and he kept doing it even after the other dog was gone. I put chicken wire around the garden to keep him out, and that worked for a while, but he eventually figured out how to tear it down, and he also figured out how to tear down the wires supporting the trees. Then a few extreme thunderstorms killed the solar lights and the remaining wires supporting the trees, the dog kept getting in and digging holes, the trees went dormant at the start of winter, and the only thing left growing in the garden was a new little mandarin tree and loads of disappointment.




New mission: Playing jigsaw puzzles with Birdies Garden Beds.


But I am not so easily defeated.

I decided to get in touch with Birdies Garden Products and ask some questions, which lead to me scouring their website looking at all their different beds, asking more questions, and eventually putting in an order for not just a few new beds, but also for some specific pieces, mostly flat panels, but also some extra specific corner pieces. My goal is to jigsaw puzzle the bed pieces together to create one large non-standard shaped bed to create more raised bed space so I can eliminate the spaces between the trees and grow strawberries under and around them at a height that isn't quite so painful to reach.

The Birdies beds and bits and pieces arrived yesterday. It took me most of the day today to unpack them, and in doing so I realised that one of the beds I'd ordered arrived the wrong colour - my fault, I didn't check the order properly before confirming the purchase, but that's okay, I just ordered another one the right colour and I do have a use for the odd coloured one in another section of the yard that will be done in the further future so it's not a waste, just a change of colour coordination for a different section of the yard in the future. Anyway, there was so much to unpack that among other household chores between boxes, by the time I was done, it was well into the afternoon and I was exhausted (I must say, Birdies doesn't skimp on the quality of their boxes, half the battle with setting up their garden beds is getting the boxes open!) So, I decided to rest for the evening and come here and start a thread telling you all about it, that I can keep updating as I progress in my mission, as it's now too dark to do much more outside and I'm too stuffed to do much more inside other than sit and type.

New mission: Playing jigsaw puzzles with Birdies Garden Beds.


Excuse the dirt on the walls and the hole in the wall, this is part of my laundry room where the dogs get locked in occasionally when needed. The dog I was puppy sitting didn't like that idea and tried to eat his way out of the room through the wall, and I haven't fixed it yet because, well, it's the laundry, in this town it's actually a miracle there's any internal lining on the laundry walls in the first place. :ROFL: It'll get fixed one year, and it does get cleaned now and then, but the dogs just muddy it up first chance they get so I don't put too much effort into that too often. And I only just noticed that the walls in my laundry are painted the same colour as the Birdies beds. Weird.

I was planning today to repaint the support posts in the garden, but time got away from me, so I'll have to do that on Monday because rain is forecast for tomorrow, and I'll need a day for everything to dry out after it. I'm going to paint them a brown colour that the paint shop matched to a rusty bit of metal for me, because the reomesh will rust over time and once it does, I'd like the posts and the rust to not stand out against each other too much and look like it's all meant to be that colour. So tomorrow I guess I'll just have to deal with the trees instead whilst I wait, which will mean pruning them all back and transferring them into large pots for safe mobile keeping, as I'm going to have to do that before putting the new garden bed in place because the current ones are in the way of doing that. Then once the garden bed is in place, filled up, and the trees back where they belong, I'll put up the reomesh trellising, and a makeshift gate, and laugh at my dog's disappointment at not being able to get in and dig around in there. After all that, then I can plant my strawberries and just wait for everything to burst into bloom come spring.

But it won't end there, because I'll be jigsaw puzzling my garden beds in the front yard as well after the espalier tree garden is complete, and that will be an even bigger job with even crazier garden bed shapes, so stay tuned for that one.
 
Today I managed to transplant my larger apple tree from further down the back yard into a large pot and collect 3 large garbage bins full of excess soil from its planter, because the tree needs to be moved later on and better to get it done whilst it's still small enough to do, and I need the extra soil. I've decided to alter my plans a little and get all my trees into pots first, because the three larger trees in the yard are still small enough to put into large pots and then I can scavenge the excess soil from their planters, because I'm going to need a lot of soil. I'm also going to transplant all the espalier trees into pots before doing anything else as well. That way I can look after all the trees until I get the garden bed fully filled with good quality soil, and have made the space the other three trees need further in the back yard where I want to move them to. That will take some time because the only landscaping business in town thinks sandy orange desert soil which is good for growing local natives but useless for anything else is the only type of soil that anyone around here needs, and I've got a small mountain of better quality stuff in the back yard that just needs to be dug up and sifted and add compost and moopoo but less of it to get it good. So this whole plan is going to be slowed down a lot so I can get enough soil from the hill in the back of my yard that needs to be levelled anyway into good condition to use and make space for my other trees in the process. Every day I'll still be doing something towards getting it all finished and thus can keep updating here with my progress, but most of the time-consuming jobs are going to involve digging, sifting and mixing and moving dirt.
 
The first picture of the garden looks like it was paradise! Could be straight from an advertisement.
Naughty puppies!

Maybe a controversion option, but have you considered putting an electric fence up, temporarily? We resorted to having to do this in The Netherlands as the neighbourhood cats would eat my dad's prize birds. I know a lot of people think "Oh how cruel!", but it's not like the animals repeat the offense. One shock and they know (usually). And you keep it on a low voltage that causes more of a surprise reaction than actual pain of course.

Aah, dirt and damage just means it's a home that's lived in. Especially with dogs. I don't think anyone on here even noticed.

It all sounds very exciting though! I can't wait to see updates on this. Just imagine me twirling around in my chair, hoping for the next update, ahaha.
 
I can't do electric fences, not permitted in residential zones in NSW. Although I'm in the middle of the outback where we can keep poultry including roosters, goats and even horses on our properties, I'm still within town limits on a residentially zoned lot, so no electric fences.

I got some advice and some products from the local garden centre, so I can start amending the soil and plant straight into it. Yay. I've measured up and started placing the ends of the garden bed, as that was going to be the trickiest part, and it works so the rest of my plan will be easy to do. I will need to get 9 support braces of the right size from Birdies before I fill more than the corners will soil, but I'll get the trees into pots (bought more this morning for that purpose), get the garden bed laid out, and get the posts painted first.

Today's mission is to paint the posts whilst the weather is good for it. Just trying to build up the motivation to get out there and get into it.
 
Oh? I've never heard of anyone being denied electric fences. But fair enough.
Perhaps a dusting of chili powder (stand ready with a hose though)? Supposedly dogs also hate cinnamon powder, so that might be a safer non-supervised option.
I've only had to tell my dog off once thankfully, though she left a nice row of teeth marks in my spinach at the time.

That's awesome! That sounds exciting :D

Loads of rain here today, hope it stays dry over there!
 
Oh? I've never heard of anyone being denied electric fences. But fair enough.
Perhaps a dusting of chili powder (stand ready with a hose though)? Supposedly dogs also hate cinnamon powder, so that might be a safer non-supervised option.
I've only had to tell my dog off once thankfully, though she left a nice row of teeth marks in my spinach at the time.

That's awesome! That sounds exciting :D

Loads of rain here today, hope it stays dry over there!
My dog isn't all dog, he's a dongo - half dog half dingo, which makes training him... interesting. He'll only comply to anything when he sees a benefit to himself, treats don't motivate him, but chasing and hunting does, thus he wasn't too hard to teach how to play fetch, and he's really aware and smart and has even figured out how to open the back door, but he's stubborn and self-centred, and as dingos are den dwellers, when it comes to digging, there's just no stopping him.
 
Haha, cheeky!
Is there anything he might be afraid of? My dog hates the noise of hollow metal, so if I were to dangle a few metal tubes that would rattle if she walked in to it... she'd be staying far away.
 
He's a little bit scared of my metal garden rake because when he was a pup he decided to pounce on it whilst I was using it to level some soil and got his paw stuck fast between two of the prongs, he was left a bit bruised by that because he panicked and frantically tried to release himself and only made the problem worse... and tore my hand open as I freed him (panicked puppy, what can you do?). He also doesn't like the wheelie bin because he refused to stop trying to bite the wheels every time it moved, and so whilst the bin was empty one day I wheeled it around the yard telling him "No!" and he finally stopped after he found out why I kept saying "No!" when his boop snoot got run over by the wheel. He learns fast, but he only learns when consequences that he really doesn't like are a clear and immediate consequence. Smart dongo won't dig when I'm in the yard though, only when I'm not around. I've yet to find anything else he's scared of, and he's not scared of the rake or the bin when they're not moving, but he won't touch them. He's not even scared of thunder, every time there's a storm he runs towards the direction of the thunder every time it claps and growls a warning as if he's somehow going to protect his territory by frightening it away. Oh, he got spooked by a horse once, that was hilarious. He was still a puppy, decided to yip in excitement at whatever the strange animal was on the other side of the fence... until he stuck his head under the gate, saw what it was and the sheer size of it made him back off, shut up, run away and hide out the back until it was gone. The most fun part with him is that he's an escape artist, and so he can find his way in and out of almost anything that has a weak spot, and he can tear his way through chicken wire and aviary mesh. I don't think he'll be able to get through reomesh though... unless he really reaches deep into his little dark dingo heart and figures out how to climb. I've managed to avoid him figuring out how jump and climb so far, it may not have occurred to him yet that it's an option. :dunno: If he ever figures out jumping and climbing though, I'm going to have no end of trouble with him!

Anyway, posts are painted now, just have to wait for them to fully dry. I'll post photos after whatever chaos I get up to tomorrow.
 
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The best laid plans of mice and me... I can't dig up the little trees and get them into pots because their root systems are far more developed than I anticipated, and being in small planters, they've gone deep, and they're starting to come out of dormancy (spring is springing very early here, darn climate change), so the best I can do is remove the planter beds from around them and gently separate the roots from the soil with a pitch fork a little bit and push them forward to get the tree into the right position and make space for the new garden bed to run behind it. This is all getting to be a much bigger and harder job than I'd hoped for, but it'll be worth it in the end (and I'm going to keep telling myself that), but so far the pieces are fitting together like they were made for this project. I just need to get a bit more done so I know the exact bed width I'm dealing with and how many braces I'll need, and then order the braces I need and wait for them to arrive, and hope that there's enough soil around the tree roots in the meantime to keep them alive before I can get to filling up the beds properly. :think: Worst case scenario, the trees die and I have to buy new ones... that's a cost I don't want but, that's what I get for not thinking of doing this a lot sooner.
 
I mean, that's both a blessing and a curse. It shows good growth, but it also means moving them is more difficult. I think you're on the right track there though. And perhaps the use of a garden hose could help clear out some roots too, rather than going at it by hand.
Have you kept in mind that as they grow, they might create shade wherever you relocate them to?
I bet it'll be worth it though!

And if the trees don't have rootstock.. perhaps you could transplant some bits and bobs?
 
I mean, that's both a blessing and a curse. It shows good growth, but it also means moving them is more difficult. I think you're on the right track there though. And perhaps the use of a garden hose could help clear out some roots too, rather than going at it by hand.
Have you kept in mind that as they grow, they might create shade wherever you relocate them to?
I bet it'll be worth it though!

And if the trees don't have rootstock.. perhaps you could transplant some bits and bobs?
Annoyingly all the trees are grafted. As for shade, during winter they'll have no leaves to shade anything with, and during summer when they've got all their leaves, the sun will be high enough and they will be short and flat enough that the only thing they'll shade is the garden bed they're in and the walkways around them, and it'll be dappled shade, which is why I decided to grow strawberries under them, because strawberries will need a bit of dappled shade protection during the hottest days of the year, but need more sunlight during winter, so it's ideal. The trees are staying where they are, but they need to be repositioned just a little bit forward, ranging from 10 to 25cm, it sounds pathetic to fuss with moving a tree such a small distance, but if I don't, I won't be able to line up the back of the garden beds straight, and when I put my trellising up the trees will be on the wrong side of it.

I exhausted myself today, managed to shift 3 trees into their new possies, set up almost half the new garden bed, and got hopefully enough soil piled up around the tree roots I've moved to keep them going without putting a big bow in the bed before I get the support bars I need for it. Tomorrow I'll do the other side and now that I know what I'm doing, the other side will be easier because I can just copy the pattern from today. It would have been quicker and easier today if I didn't have to add in a few support bars, but I had to mess around with different length pieces to get them to line up with each other for the support bars to go in straight and playing that jigsaw puzzle took me longer than it should have. I WILL get a photo tomorrow morning of my progress so far. I would have got one after I was done today but it was getting too dark.
 
I've only managed to get one more tree surrounded by new garden bed because silly me wasn't thinking when putting the internal corners together. Corners always have to be on the outside of the beds, not the inside, so I've had to spend time fixing that. I'm too tired today to do much more if anything, so I'll have a go at getting the rest of it done tomorrow. Anyway, here's a photo of my progress so far...
New mission: Playing jigsaw puzzles with Birdies Garden Beds.

I did end up adding the inner wall on the left hand side before I stopped for lunch, so that's something. All the bins and large pots are holding extra dirt to put in there, I'll need a lot more than that and it all needs a lot of moopoo and compost added to it, and I can't fill the beds until I get supports in there anyway. One day at a time, even if it's only more more panel added per day, so long as I'm moving forward I'm happy with my progress.
 
Progress is progress, even little steps still mean you are moving forward.
And looks to me like you did quite some work! Starting to look good - I'm getting so excited for you haha :D
 
Fixed my camera! Needed a new SD card. 😕 Anyway, I still have to finish filling the bed up with soil and compost and good stuff like that, and put a tree back in its place, and put my worm feeders in the bed, and plant strawberries, and mulch... lots more work to get done just on this bed alone, but here's a photo of what it looks like as of today.


New mission: Playing jigsaw puzzles with Birdies Garden Beds.

I'll be making the little garden bed in the centre a little bit larger as well later. Meanwhile, I'm making a start on jigsaw puzzling my future front garden beds.
 
I've been at it again. This time in the front yard, and it took ages to get the bed design sorted because it's much more complicated. Getting it all to fit neatly, and be able to hold soil without bursting at the seams, whilst also having to avoid water pipes when putting support posts in place, has required a lot of planning, measuring, guessing, putting pieces together, standing back, looking at it, visualising the physics of the setup, pulling it apart, trying again, and again, and again... finally I've got it to a point where (I think) it's all good and it is not going to be changed again.

The most likely places where the large irregular bed could potentially go awry is around the seating area, and along the flat panels that run from near the seating area to the back where the white posts are. The white posts are there to act as bright white easy to see "bollards" in the driveway so no one reverses into the garden bed, to hold up a trellis mesh that will be put up later to block the view between the front yard and the driveway, and to act as retaining posts to hold up that side of the garden bed so it doesn't collapse as soon as it's full of soil, so although it's a long straight stretch of bed, those posts are set very deep and concreted into place so they won't be going anywhere anytime soon. The green posts are there to support a trellis garden arch that will arch over the garden seat. They are also concreted in quite deep, so that if the bed starts to get a bit bendy in the seating area, I can dig out some soil, install some treated wood sleepers as hidden retaining walls onto the posts to hold back the bulk weight of the soil so there's only a few inches of soil left between the bed and the hidden retaining walls, the weight of which shouldn't cause a problem, and if that doesn't work I can put braces from the bed to the hidden retaining walls. But for now, I suspect that might be overkill, so I'm going to just fill it up and see it if holds as is and keep a close eye on it. The other potential weak spot being the flat section between the seating area and the white posts alongside the tree, once the other long skinny bed tucked away behind the tree is filled, that should act as a bit of a support at one end of the bed, and I'll be building up the rock garden on the other side, so that shouldn't be a problem, but if it becomes one, then I'll again, dig out a bit of soil and put a retaining wall inside the bed to resolve that problem.

I've decided that I'm not going to do anymore fancy shaped beds in the future... well, not for a long time anyway. All my other garden plans so far need regular shaped beds, but to put together more regular shaped beds I'm going to have to buy more flat panels because I have plenty of left over corners, and a small, odd selection of different sized panels, none of which are the same length.

Do I recommend anyone else do this? Nope. It's too hard, too complicated, the math alone is brain breaking. But that's what I get for deciding to mess around and completely change a perfectly good product that someone else had already done the math on.

As for the back yard jigsaw puzzle bed, it doesn't look much different at the moment. I've been rearranging things and I have plans to change what I'm doing with that bed with regards to the plants in it, so I'll update on that after I finish the front garden. I have kept a small section of garden at just above ground level, it doesn't look built up bit it is, just not as tall as the Birdies garden beds. It's a specifically only native plants garden and reptile refuge for all the lizards that run around my yard. It has a miniature pond, and I've put some cute garden ornaments in and around the native bed reptile refuge because my neighbour's little kid loves coming past and peeking through the section of fence I've opened up to allow sunlight through to see the little "critters" I've put in the garden.

I also upgraded my hose to a Hoselink reel and I'm so glad I did, best decision ever! Now saving up to get one for the back yard as well. It's amazing how just having a good easy to use hose makes watering the garden go from being a bit of a chore to an absolute pleasure.

As for what I plan to grow here in this garden, the answer is mostly ornamentals, many pollinator attracting plants, and some food plants (capsicum, chilli, the tiny little berry size tomato vines, some chard and rhubarb. In the native garden will be same sort of thing: flowering plants to pull in the pollinators, and among it a midyim berry bush and a small desert lime tree. I've also got on its way a baby Wollemi pine tree, so that's going with the natives in the ground, but as a stand alone plant, to be our dinosaur Christmas tree for future years. I will get a pile of plastic dinosaurs, spray paint them with shiny glittery probably automotive paint to withstand the weather, and use them to decorate the Wollemi tree each year. It'll be funny and more interesting than the usual baubles and reindeer.

Anyway, photos of progress... sorry some are a bit fuzzy, I was trying to get the photos quickly before I lost what little sunlight was left of the day. I might make an explanatory video about how I did it all and why later on when it's closer to complete.
 

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I always love seeing progress in your garden. It never seems like you take shortcuts and truly put the work in - I love it!

You did really well, and I hope you're very proud of yourself. And I look forward to seeing them filled up... and eventually growing!
 
Today's weather report, partly sunny to sunny, some gusts of wind, no mention of rain per se, just a 0-14% chance of some light showers of <2mm, which around here means it might try to light rain, but it won't, and even if it does it'll be so light that it'll evaporate before it hits the ground, so we don't actually get rain down here on Earth. All good. Plan set. Get to work...

I went out into the garden and started painting the last two trellis posts that needed it.

It was a little bit cloudy - a light grey film covered most of the sky with some puffier white clouds on the horizon to one side and blue sky on the other - dry, no sign of rain, and warm enough for painting so long as one was using a fast-drying acrylic, which I was. Halfway through my painting work, the wind picked up all of a sudden, and just as suddenly there was an instant downpour of rain. It didn't start with a few gentle drops and gradually increase. It went from no rain to pouring rain in an instant. I covered the paint can, got to the shelter of the veranda as quickly as possible, leaving the half-done wet paint post to the mercy of storm gods, sighed, cleaned and packed up the painting gear which took me about 5 mins to do.

The moment I was done with that, the rain stopped, sun came out, blue sky, no clouds, no wind. Just a bright sunny almost warm winter day.

And everything outside is wet, and mud.

%*&(*)(_(*^%#$#$^(*^^&)(*%$@#%^^(! deserts!!! :mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:
 
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