The ul­ti­mate raised gar­den

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - WALLY RICHARDS

There are two ways to start a new gar­den plot. The first is to dig one. The ideal time to dig up an area of lawn or ground is head­ing into win­ter. Mound up the soil leav­ing a two spade depth trench around the perime­ter. Leave the clods whole as they landed.

Scat­ter a good dose of gar­den lime over the clods and let win­ter frosts do the rest. The harder the frosts the bet­ter.

In spring the clods crum­ble to a fine tilth at the touch of hoe or rake.

Prior to plant­ing, scat­ter an­i­mal ma­nure, chicken ma­nure, and blood & bone about and fork it in. Hardier plants can go in early, with the main plant­ing over Labour Week­end.

The other is to cre­ate a raised gar­den, sit­ting on lawn or con­crete.

The cheap­est way is to take three new sheets of gal­vanised iron, 1.8 me­tres long and two 100 x 100 fence posts.

Cut the fence posts in half and ap­ply a cou­ple of coats of acrylic paint to seal in the chem­i­cals.

Lay the two painted posts on the ground and place one sheet of iron so it com­pletely cov­ers the them. Check to make sure its square, and then drill holes in the gully, not the ridge, for roof­ing screws. Screws at each end of the sheet make the gar­den easy to dis­as­sem­ble, move or ex­tend.

Re­peat on the other long length of iron. There’s the two sides, so for the ends, cut the re­main­ing sheet in half to 90cm long. The posts are go­ing to be inside the bed, and it is best to as­sem­ble where its go­ing to sit. Ideally, one long side should be fac­ing north.

Site it as far away from trees or shrubs as pos­si­ble. Near a tree or close to a drip line, feeder roots will find a way up and in and take all the good­ness out.

Or sit the gar­den on thick black builders plas­tic to pre­vent roots in­vad­ing.

Screw the two ends to the fence posts and it’s ready to fill.

On soil or grass, place a few sheets of card­board at the bot­tom to stop weeds and at­tract earth­worms.

Add tree and shrub trim­mings, any or­ganic ma­te­rial – non her­bi­cide sprayed grass clip­pings, saw­dust, news­pa­per, spent com­post, old potting mixes and even some top soil.

Fill and tamp it down to about half its depth.

Add sev­eral lay­ers of news­pa­per. Cover with pur­chased com­post not made from green waste (Dal­tons, Oder­ings, mush­room com­post) to 35cm from the top.

Spread blood & bone, sheep ma­nure pel­lets, Neem Tree Gran­ules, Rock Solid, Ocean Solids, and chicken ma­nure. Cover this with 5cm of pur­chased com­post so it’s 20 to 30 cm from the top, ready for plant­ing.

Af­ter plant­ing, stretch and secure net­ting or crop cover across the bed to stop in­sects, birds and cats.

The long north fac­ing side will help heat up the mix; the gap be­tween the mix and the top cre­ates a wind-break and mi­cro-cli­mate. Plants re­spond by grow­ing twice as fast as those in open ground.

Prob­lems? Ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 3570606) Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nz Web site www.gar­de­news.co.nz

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/ FAIRFAX NZ

Wally Richards demon­strates the fea­tures of his gal­vanised iron no-need-to­bend, raised gar­den. The hoops for net­ting or crop cover give larger leafy plants room to grow.

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