Here's a step by step journey of our organic garden project at home. Read about the benefits of organic eating on my previous blog (and note that the process of organic gardening has its own benefits for your health too)!
Step 1 - Choosing The Right Place - We placed our garden against a Western fence line, allowing morning sunshine during all seasons, and aligned our gardens lengthwise from East to West.
Step 2 - Lasagna Gardening - this doesn't mean you'll have a fine crop of lasagna! It's a fantastic way of layering your garden to maximise plant growth, and you don't even have to dig first! Find out how to build a lasagne garden here.
Step 3 - Adding more lasagna layers
Step 4 - Building The Structure. Our garden measures 10 metres by 4 metres, with 6 garden beds each measuring 1 metre by 3 metres. We allowed a walkway in between the beds, then surrounded the gardens with a fence (to keep our chooks out) and a roof structure (to allow shadecloth roofing). Using treated pine ensures greater durability, and you can choose certain treatment options in wood to prevent poison seepage into your garden. Read about the options on Burke's Backyard here.
Step 5 - Adding Shadecloth. We used 50% filtration shadecloth, preventing full burning sun but allowing enough sunshine through for plant energy and growth. For those grey and rainy days, we wanted the option of no roof, so designed a roll back system that works easily and effectively.
Details - here's the crank handle for our roof winding mechanism, made from 40mm PVC plumbing pipe.
Details - this picture shows how the winding pipe can revolve inside an apparatus we made from 50mm PVC plumbing pipe.
Details - the end that's drawn over the garden on sunny days has 20mm PVC conduit, to which the shadecloth is attached (by contact glue and either stitching or zip-ties). Open areas of conduit between the sections of shadecloth allow us to hook the conduit onto galvanised screws in the timber, thus keeping the roof taut and in place.
Step 6 - Adding Chicken Wire. Possums are cute but they sure can devastate our garden. We've had to resort to adding chicken wire to the whole structure to keep the fuzzy creatures away.
Beginning Crops - we've only just begun harvesting our garden, mainly due to dealing with possums, but here's a few shots of some of our plants. We've enjoyed cucumbers, zuccinis, beans, silver beet, pak choi, capsicums, peas, snap peas, carrots, corn, onions, shallots, chives, lettuce, potatoes, watermelon and basil so far.
Although it's been a reasonably large project, it's been fun and our garden's already become a favourite place to be, with the shadecloth and verdant plants making a serene and delightfully cool atmosphere.
If you don't have space for your own garden, you could think about joining a community garden (they're a great place to not only garden but to enjoy socialising with others who have similar interests in organic gardening and food). The Toowoomba Community Garden website address is here, but if you're not in Toowoomba you may find one in your own community.
Happy gardening, and enjoy the fruits of your labours!