|Our Vegie garden in Bundalong - peas just planted in April this year|
This is where I was at a number of years ago when we were living in the middle of suburbia in Brisbane. We were behind on bills, small income, a family of 5 and trying to make ends meet was....... difficult! Now difficult, even extremely difficult is NOT "impossible" - it does however, mean thinking around corners at times. I didn't have enough money to get sufficient groceries ........ ok, so I'll grow some food........... yep, bad soil, and no money to go buy a load in.......... that left, making my own soil!! I sacraficed a bit of the budget and bought 4 "day old" hens (hens - not chicks as I wanted to know I was going to eventually get eggs - not just a lot of noise LOL). These are the girls I have now, at our house here in Bundalong. I feel quite blessed to be able to have hens as they take care of scraps, turn over the compost, keep their yard cleared and give me manure, eggs, and lots of laughter!
Making a compost heap is how you go about making soil to build your garden beds! I've been doing it for years now and although it takes time, it certainly helps the finances! I start with nothing at all fancy....... a spot in the yard where I can pile all the scraps. I use whatever I can find to make a back and 2 sides to keep it all "somewhat contained". Lawn mower clippings, torn up newspapers, cardboard, tissues, etc all go in. If you have a wood fire, then when you clean it out - add the wood ash to the pile once cold. As those little day old hens start making a mess - ie manure add that as well, including the wood shavings or straw they have dirtied. As those hens grow bigger they will be very useful. Remember to keep it moist (not wet) and turn it over with a garden fork to help everything break down - and before you know it, you'll end up with something like this.....
Inside my kitchen I keep a very small rubbish tidy that I put all my peelings and such into. I have my compost bins in the same area as the chook yard at this house and the girls love pecking through it all and turning it over for me.
To get your garden bed going...............
First decide where you are going to have your plot and how big you want it to be..... mow the area over as close to the ground as you can and keep those mower clippings.
Time to gather some of your scraps! Get those used newspapers, any type of cardboard (cerial boxes, empty tissue boxes etc). Lay them thickly over the ground and wet it all down. Don't worry if you don't have enough to do the whole area now........ work on it with scraps as they come to hand. Throw those mower clippings over the top. If you have chickens - then clean out the pen and add that straw and droppings etc over the top of the grass clippings. Now add your soil (this will be coming from the compost heap ). I have also been known to just begin my gardens following the above steps, but the compost has been "made" right where I plan on having the garden bed.............. and it's worked just fine !
|My current compost has 3 sections to it so I can turn stuff over into the next bin.|
Potatoes are often a cheap and easy crop to start with............ we tend to use lots of potatoes around here, so I don't mind having them growing in several areas.
|Potatoes growing from sprouted supermarket ones|
|The Peas in June this year|
In this garden bed - I popped in some potatoes that had sprouted in the bag from the supermarket............ I put them ontop of the layer of "soil", cover them with a bit more and then add a layer of straw. As they begin to grow, I add more compost and straw........... sometimes mover clippings if that is all I have to use. By the time the potato crop is ready for harvest I have a great vegie bed all built up that can be used for other crops! I was lucky enough to have some logs given to me that Pete placed around the garden bed for me! I also have often used seeds that I've kept from vegies all ready on hand like pumpkins, and sometimes tomatoes, cucumbers. They don't always work, but when funds are limited it's worth trying.