Backyard Reno Problem #1

Several problems have cropped up during the planning and building of this shed. Some are the boring council-being-very-unhelpful-and-making-you-get-SIX(yes, six)-separate-permits-to-build-a-smaller-garage-than-what-was-originally-there-and-despite-every-other-house-in-the-laneway-having-a-double-garage-or-bigger kind of problems, which I won’t bother talking about. I will mention some of the more interesting problems over a series of posts though. So, get ready for some frustration!

I mentioned in a previous post entitled Moving Vegetable Boxes about how we gained a little extra space with our new fence and wall so Adam moved the vegetable boxed back to optimise that space. And he made them PERFECT. Cut to Shed Problem #1: The excavator bumped the front box right off line.

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Perfect
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Not Perfect

Ahh, so annoying! Adam debated whether he could jack it up to fix it, but it needed to be tilted and turned and we didn’t want to risk breaking it. So the best way to fix it was to empty it and realign it again. So, that would mean each box has been emptied and realigned twice in the last month or so! (The first reason for this is explained in the previous vegie box moving post).

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Adam’s determined face.

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Better add in an action shot. Sorry that he took his top off. A hot, sweaty, dirty, shirtless Adam is not heaps blog appropriate. That’s why I only put in two photos. And made them big ;).

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Look what sprouted up the other day: A tomato seedling! It survived the soil being shoveled in and out of this box twice and managed to self sow itself right on the very edge of the box! Good work little guy!

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Moving Vegetable Boxes

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When we first positioned our vegie boxes we pushed them hard up again next door’s fence. But then that house got demolished and a large part of the new “fence” became the wall of the second townhouse. Then the rest of the new fence was built the reverse way around so the posts were on ourside  (which was a little sneaky and dodgy of the builder). The advantage of this was that we gained an extra 5 or 6 inches for the vegie boxes to go back. It doesn’t sound like much but space is like gold in any inner city suburb. I shoveled the soil out of one box, then hand-balled the repositioning task to Adam who made it perfect, then shoveled the soil back in. I got a shovel for my birthday this year. Isn’t it beautiful!?

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After all this shoveling, my brother put forward a good idea that we could take out the end fence post which wasn’t a proper fence post anyway and secure the final paling to the brick wall. This way we could push the boxes right up to the brick wall and gain another couple of inches. The bottom rung of the fence would also need to be sawn off. Good idea bro! So I shoveled the soil back out of the vegie box. REALLY appreciating my new shovel now!

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This weekend Adam worked his magic. I do pick on Adam a little on this blog but he really is amazing. I looked at the fence for a bit, wondering how I’d take the post off etc and had no idea where to start. Adam just got straight in there and did it. Any problems he encountered along the way he just used that clever brain of his and found a solution. And he just goes about his work quietly (usually with the occasional swear word to himself) and doesn’t complain. When I do any work I make him come out and see my progress at regular intervals and constantly complain that this part of my body aches and make him look at my splinters and each individual tiny cut and force him to repeatedly tell me what an amazing job I’ve done. Another lovely thing about him is he always includes me. He’d get me to come out and approve the new position of the boxes before he started refilling them. And if I suggested any adjustments (which are always a pain to do) he’d listen to my case, agree with me (or make a compelling case against) and change it. And the end result would always be perfect.

Anyway, enough talk about how wonderful Adam is. He’s ok I guess. I quite like him. Main point is the vegie boxes are now in place so I can plant vegies again! I’ll probably just wait till tomato season though.

The Next Crop (again)

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I’ve just planted the next crop into vegetable box #1. I’m still amazed how quickly the soil level drops. Thankfully, after the last top up we had a couple of wheelbarrows of 5 way soil left (2 soils, 3 manures) so I didn’t have to buy more soil for this top up. From left to right: leeks, baby spinach, beetroot. I tried to plant the leeks in mounds because I’ve read that this promotes more white growth in the leek, but it didn’t really work. They just started falling over and I ended up pushing the mounds in anyway so they had a bit more solid ground to hold them up. Maybe they need to be bigger first? Or maybe I just needed to persevere a little more. I’ve never grown spinach before but I love baby spinach and use it heaps so I’m excited to see how they turn out. This is my third lot of beetroot. If you haven’t noticed from my previous posts, I love beetroot!

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It’s tricky spreading pea straw over such small seedlings and not burying them with it. This layer is pretty thin so I’ll top it up when the seedlings are a bit bigger.

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I’m still trying to adhere to my crop rotation. Because I seem to have to top up the soil a fair bit each time, plus I give the existing soil a good turn over, I’m not too worried about the details of which family should follow which to get the best nutrient composition of the soil (like planting legumes after brassicas to help replace the nitrogen). Plus, since I don’t have much space for my vegies, I’d prefer to plant the ones I want, rather than one that will help improve the soil. And guess what I noticed as I was turning the soil? I’ve got worms! Lots of them! Finally they came! Clever little wormy’s getting all the way to the top of the vegie boxes!

Question: when I’m turning the soil should I avoid mixing soil between areas that had different vegies in them? Will this just spread pests/diseases throughout my vegie box and defeat the purpose of crop rotation? (not that I’ve had any pests other than caterpillars this time ’round but they’re not exactly hanging out in the soil waiting for the next leafy vegetable).

Vegie Boxes

Vegie boxes

We built these vegie boxes from treated pine, which the boys at Mitre-10 kindly cut to the right size for us. There was a big debate between my partner and I as to whether to make them two planks high or three planks high. I won, and now that our vegies are spewing over the edge of the boxes, 3 planks looks just right. Plus it saves my back while I’m tending to the vegies!