I love growing things. It has been one of the best things about growing up and owning a house; that I can plant things and they grow! For a long time my growing attempts have been mostly confined to a number of pots that looked a bit like this (as seen here):
But the trouble with pots is that they dry out rather quickly in this hot Brisbane weather and you are limited as to what you can plant in them. I had talked with Steve a few times about getting a real herb garden, but he usually met my requests with a reminder of the fact that I had lots of garden beds around the yard that were in serious disrepair. Why did I deserve a nice shiny new garden bed when I wasn't taking care of the ones we had?
He was right, but it's really hard to make over an entire garden bed that has been taken over by weeds and grass. Last time he mowed however, he had time to think about the garden situation, and came up with this solution: we get a nice herb garden set up, put everything from the current gardens that we want to save in it, and then completely redo the entire garden.
It seems a little extreme, but it was a sound plan, and as it turned out - it worked!
We talked about what kind of herb garden we wanted to set up, but just ended up with a pre-made all you have to do is bolt it together type from Bunnings. It was the most fuss free way to to go and worked out to be only a little more expensive anyway. We were lucky enough to have enough compost (from our two bins) and some of the dirt we dug out of the ground when we put the sandpit in, that it pretty much filled the garden. Hooray!
We filled it with that and then covered it and left it for about four weeks to try to kill the weeds. Lots of pumpkin seeds grew during that time (ambitious things), but they were easy to pull out. Then we tipped a little extra dirt in, a layer of newspaper and cardboard as an extra weed-prevention measure and finally some nice organic dirt to get things going.
We put in lots of things from the back garden bed, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries (I put the mint in a pot for safe keeping), and also some things from the pots, the capsicums, basil, oregano and thyme. I think everything we transplanted into it has survived, though one of the capsicums looks like it might not and the thyme has only just started showing signs of life again.
Meanwhile the back garden bed languished for a while. Then we had a long weekend and nothing planned: game on! I pulled out things we wanted saving, (agapanthus, some succulents and ground covers) and then got to work just ripping everything else out. Steve was a machine with the mattock and did most of the heavy work. We weren't going to pull out a couple of the hibiscus bushes that we had, but after we had to cut them back to get at other things we were ripping out, it didn't seem worth keeping them.
Such a shame that I don't have before photos, because it was a real mess and now it looks amazing.
After everything was pulled out, and we had put in the edging (just sleepers from Bunnings), we laid out some cardboard (my precious, precious cardboard!) a bit of extra dirt and then planted the things we wanted to keep. Agapanthus went back in, and the Moses bushes that will hopefully multiply and be good cover. A trip to Bunnings for some extra plants, a few trees that will grow up and make nice privacy along the fence line, as well as things with pretty flowers.
It's hard to see in that top photo of the whole garden bed (which, I have to say, gives no credit to how fantastic the garden actually looks), but on the far right (behind the slide), there is a gap between the two trees and in the fence line, where we talk to the chickens who live next door. We had an old table top down for the kids to stand/sit on while they do that, but it was a little bit dangerous with spiders and snakes, so I had the idea of putting down some pavers for them to use instead.
Luckily for us, our friends decided to reno their back garden, which had previously been paved, and put down turf. Hello free pavers! You can read about that over at Working on It Dad, where my friend Wade writes about being a dad. I think it turned out rather nicely, though maybe not as level as it should be.
Finally, we covered everything with sugar cane mulch, which really gave it that professional finished look, if I do say so myself. The whole thing took three days of hard work, a rather large amount of daughter neglect, and we are so happy with the result. Can't wait for things to grow out a bit and fill the spaces.