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Farming for Dummies
Farming for Dummies
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Commenced:
01/06/2012
Submitted:
15/06/2012
Last updated:
07/10/2015
Location:
Parkes, NSW, AU
Climate zone:
Mediterranean





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Parkes, AU


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Raised Beds

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Posted by Alexandra Berendt over 10 years ago

My first foray into raised beds. I'm not sure what to expect but I'll be sure to learn something one way or another...

I’ve never actually made or used any kind of raised bed before, but I thought I’d give it a shot because I need to stop my soil from eroding and build up a nice fertile bed for some veggies!

First came the dog pen. My dogs need somewhere to stay when I go away over night or at various other times when they cannot be with me. Unfortunately our funds were somewhat limited when we built it and even though it works just fine, is spacious and has an old aviary as a large, dry shelter for the dogs, it doesn’t look particularly charming.

I figured some plantings around it would spruce it up a bit and eventually, hopefully, hide most of it from view. Unfortunately the ground slopes almost everywhere on this place, so the soil is eroding away from the plants I have planted so far. I’d also like some more fertile ground to grow some veggies in.

Plants next to the Dog Pen

So, it didn’t take me long to find some logs, which have apparently been sitting around for a while, to use for the bed.

Logs

The dog pen is fairly long, around twelve meters or so, so it will take me a while to install a raised bed along the whole length by myself but I at least made a start today.

I put up a scrap piece of roofing iron to stop the dogs from being able to reach the plants in the bed, as this is the north and thus, the sunny side of the pen and I plan on growing some veggies in it come spring.

Those three Hot Lips were already there (I planted them a few weeks ago) and I had built the soil up a little around them using old manure and weeds. I had mulched them with some wood chip on top.

Logs in Place

After I put my logs in place (which required quite a bit of manoeuvring, and the help of my trusty Ford Ranger “Grant” (I named him that because he is grand… And I love him dearly)) I went and collected several wheelbarrow loads of manure from my two lovely hay burners and filled up the space inside the logs, until it was fairly even with the soil around the Hot Lips.

Filled with Horse Manure

(The little face belongs to my pound puppy Leela... turns out she is actually kind of a camera hog...)

Unfortunately by this time it started to get dark and I still had to feed everyone so I finished up for the day.

Filled with Manure
(Can you spot the puppy again? Haha)

I plan on covering the manure with some old hay or chicken coop litter and then cardboard on top of that, to stop any weeds from growing while the manure decomposes a little. Hopefully, by the beginning of spring I will be able to grow something or other in the bed, I might even sow some legumes as green manure before actually planting some veggies in it.

Well, this is my first go so I don’t really know what to expect once I sow or plant some stuff in this bed but I’ll be sure to let you know!

Comments (4)

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Nadia Wong
Nadia Wong : Hi Alexandra,

I grew up in the city too (Hong Kong, then Sydney) and since moving down to Melbourne to follow dream of being a vet, I am very interested in learning more about permaculture techniques and how that translates to animal health, human and community health.

It just so happens that I got a job as a vet with the vet clinic in Parkes and my friend has a large bit of land around Cookamidjera where I can muck around with. I am not used to hard setting red/brown soil but thats pretty much what Aus is made out of!

In terms of raised beds, I have experienced with car tyres for the sake of maintaining warmth and water content (in the curvy bits). A lot of people put some sort of drip irrigation for raised bed plants that need more water than the weather gives. I just use worms and worm castings, glad wrapped over young plants in winter to retain moisture and warmth.

Anyways, keep up the good work! I learnt heaps about adapting permaculture techniques to this kind of weather and soil just by reading this blog. I will need your advice when I get around to doing something useful on my friends land too!

Cheers

Nadia
Posted over 10 years ago

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Alexandra Berendt
Alexandra Berendt : Hi Nadia, wow so you are in Parkes now?

Imagine that, what are the chances! I live about 30 k's out of town but I come into town fairly regularly, would love to have some coffee with you one day!

I am also struggling with the soil in this area, I am used to the black, rich soils around Munich which are easy to dig in and which get regular rain and such.

I get so jealous when I visit my mother in Germany now, her garden is just so lush and green, even though all she has to work with is a tiny scrap of land behind our house in Munich!

I don't really know much about permaculture either, I have borrowed some books from the library and did a lot of reading online and am now learning pretty much by trial and error lol

I have horses, so learning to deal with worms and such by applying permaculture principles is something I am really interested in. I still worm them very regularly, but am looking to start a worm farm, so will not be able to use any manure after worming them for a while. I'd love to get some manure worm counts done now and then start using different techniques of dealing with worms in manure such as spreading manure, composting it and using chickens to clean it up, instead of a round of wormer, then do some more worm counts.. Maybe we could get together and have a chat about this kind of thing as well

I also want to introduce some worms to my raised beds (seeing as they are mostly filled with horse manure, I don't really have any spare soil to fill them up with)and haven't had a go working with tyres yet. I am a little deterred by the look of the exposed tyres and haven't found anyone who knows how to render them using natural materials yet.

I'm still kind of amazed that there is actually someone else from Parkes on here :O lol
Posted over 10 years ago

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Nadia Wong
Nadia Wong : Hahaha most permaculture people are in the east side of NSW and south and south east of Melbourne. Ironically enough, its areas like Parkes that needs proper permaculture make over!

I wrote a few articles for an organic magazine about feeding and natural medicines. IF you give me your email, I can send them to you. Although I focused mainly on cattle and sheep, I hope that some stuff may apply to horses too.

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Alexandra Berendt
Alexandra Berendt : Yes, the land around Parkes suffers a lot of erosion, some salinity and weed problems. Paterson's Curse is one of the most common weeds around here and is really difficult to get rid of. It doesn't help that it sometimes ends up in lucerne hay and other horse fodder and thus is spread easily to horse properties in the area if manure is not cleaned up regularly.

People are sort of interesting in alternative ways of doing stuff but many famers are too worried that they will not make enough money to keep their farms if they do not use traditional farming techniques and of course I am not the right person to teach anyone about anything because I don't really know enough myself :P
Posted over 10 years ago

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