Mosaics, manures and munching

Updating progress on some recent projects in the garden.

The mosaic-edged garden bed is now in place and planting has begun. There are strawberries in the holes in the bricks and a row of mini white turnips, so sweet, that we use to make Italian turnip soup are plated in the front of the bed. TB has also planted some French breakfast radishes between the turnips.


TB has also been busy giving himself a sore back digging over the green manure bed. This now has a topping of horse manure as well. We’re planning on planting our tomatoes here shortly.


The chickens are turning out to be great at dealing with left-over or past their best veg. Here they are demolishing one of our old kale plants, already going to seed. Brassicas yum!


Unfortunately for us it’s not just the chooks that like brassicas. Our resident possums seem to have a taste for broccoli. I was wondering why the broccoli wasn’t producing any florets. Duh! we just got beaten to them.


The hard way or the easy way

The past few days has seen me catching up on all those jobs that I’ve been putting off for the last few weeks.

As you can see the green manure crop planted in our front garden in early winter was well overdue for digging in.

The aim with a green manure is to get it in under the soil surface and rotting down in order to increase the organic matter in your soil. This will improve the structure of your soil and also its moisture retaining capacity. In addition the dug in green manure will provide nutrients for your next crop.

Now lets get this clear – you can do this the hard way or the easy way.

Stage 1 cutting the green stuff down
The hard way
First I needed to cut down and chop up the growth on top. I did this with a trusty sharp spade. Chopping up and down gets rid of the stuff on top but once that was cut back I also used a shallow, diagonal cut to sever the roots below ground level.


The easy way
If this sounds all too much for you the alternative is to set the lawn mower for a high cut and mow the top down.

Stage 2 getting the green stuff underground
The hard way
Using said trusty spade dig in and turn the soil over so that the green stuff is more or less hidden from view. Keep doing this until you collapse or the bed is completely turned over, or both. Now wait two weeks before you start planting.


The easy way
Use the chopped down green manure as the first layer of a no dig garden bed. Chuck several handfuls of chook manure over the surface, then place large wodges of wet newspaper over the top completely covering any green stuff. Chuck more chook manure on and then cover with some sort of mulch such as straw, sugarcane mulch or pea straw.

You should repeat layers adding some compost along the way and watering the drier layers to ensure that the layers start to break down. You should be able to plant into this straight away.

Leonie Norrington’s Gardening Australia article will give you some more detailed info on no dig gardens.