"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Raised beds

Back in November when we scored some pallets from a local tile shop which were turned into the second chicken coop, we also scored some "boxes".  I use the term boxes loosely, as they do not have full sides - they're more slatted.
This looks like a pile of junk, doesn't it.
 To RMan and I it means sooo much more...
RMan and I had a "together" moment when we saw these babies - we reckoned they'd make perfect raised beds.  My lower spine is not (and cannot without a major op, which I'm not keen on) getting any better, and the less crouching I have to do, the easier it is for me to garden (which is another reason I planted the pumpkins in tyres so that they could grow up and along the fence of the other veggie patch).

These "boxes" will make that possible.

So, when we had a spare moment in January, I got to work.

I started by clearing out everything in my shadecloth veggie house.
Stones from our fields were added at the base to
  act as drainage
Serendipitously, the three "boxes" fitted perfectly between the two internal support poles - a sign I took that they were meant to be placed where they are.

I layered loads of newspaper on the ground underneath them.  Then, we uploaded some of the gazillion stones we have littering our fields and layered them at the very base of the boxes - on top of the newspaper
The sides of the "boxes" were covered with black plastic
  which was stapled in place
The sides were covered with black plastic which was stapled in place - to prevent the soil from being washed out.  Then layers of straw, alpaca poo, topsoil, straw, alpaca poo, topsoil...
Then we proceeded to fill the mtr3 with a lasagne
 layer of goodness
...were added until the new raised beds were full.
Nearly full.  We were surprised how much it
  took to fill the mtr3
Finally, after watering everything in well, I let it settle, topped up the soil the next morning (it had sunk a little due to the watering) and started sowing seed / planting.

This is what it looks like just under a month later...
Luscious yumminess growing happily in the
 raised beds :)
I'm chuffed.

Carrots, lettuce, radish, chard, some garlic, even a "trial" single tomato plant and the odd-companion planted onion - they're all doing well - and we've already harvested chard, radish, lettuce leaves.
Yeeha!!  Ginger growing for the first times ever
 in my garden
Due to the rich well-manured composition of the soil, I am even able to grow ginger for the first time ever.  (Ginger, being a plant which grows in a mediterranean climate, requires a richer soil, which retains water and loves being grown below other plants - so that their leaves can shade the soil and filter the light.)

These raised beds are certainly assisting my back :)

And the "boxes" were just sitting rotting at the tile shop where we found them.  Another good recycling project completed :)

Although my pumpkins are producing madly, RMan is not mad about growing anything in tyres, so, we're going to go back to the tile store to get some more raised beds, which will be dedicated pumpkin beds next spring / summer.


  1. Good job, Dani! I'm also hoping to make more raised beds this year, but finding the soil is always the limiting factor here...so many stones.

    1. Quinn - Yeah, that was the worst part of filling the mtr3 beds. The 'paca poo helps, but I need more than composty material.

  2. Dani, I tried to comment on your post about Scallawag but couldn't find a way to do it. I'm so so sorry to hear about your loss. We lot our Ginny back in July - and had the some tough decision you had to make - and I still miss that sweet girl. I often catch myself expecting to see her come around the corner. It will be painful for some time to come, but always remember what a great life you gave him!

    1. Thank you Cherie. Yes, there is a gap, and both RMan and I keep doing things we used to do with Scallywag, only to remember that he's no longer there. But I think we may have to get another dog soon-ish. It's not a good idea to be without a friend, nor their early warning system...

    2. In my area, there seem to be numerous border collies looking for homes. I think people take them on without realising they're highly intelligent, energetic and need "a job". So if you decide to get another one, RSE Animal Welfare will be glad to help. And I'm sure there is plenty of work on your farm for a dog to do.

    3. pqsa - Scallywag was a cross Border Collie / Golden Retriever. He battled big time with his long dense hair and the heat in the summer.

    4. Of course yes, and ticks are a huge problem. We also have loads of huskies here, I have no idea how they cope in the heat, really and truly. These breeders are very thoughtless.

  3. Dani - have you ever seen a chiropractor? a friend of mine who actually broke his back 20 yrs ago swears by the chiropractor. i have no personal experience but when he first got hurt, his disability insurance paid for the chiro...but then his disability changed so he has to pay out of pocket now and can't go as often as he would like. just something to think about trying.

    raised beds are the best aren't they? i must admit that i am so jealous reading about all of the things that you are growing when we are buried under 2ft of snow - bahahahahah!

    sending much love! your friend,

    1. kymber - I damaged my back when I broke my hip at age 11. Unfortunately, the "spurs" which hold the disc in place are barely existent anymore, so the disc has nothing to hold it in place - which is why it is slipping sideways. Visiting a chiropractor won't help, I'm afraid. But, thanks for thinking of me ;)

      Your growing time isn't that far off, my friend - and I'm longing for winter... :)

  4. Amazing Dani, wonderful recycled raised beds. When we put in beds that were just 6 inches high and 18 foot long it took days to find all the soil, I dread to think how much effort you guys had to put in!
    I second Kymber's comment on chiropractor's, I had a friend who found one helped her immensely.

    1. Kirsty - lol - t'wasn't easy, but it is so worth it for the end goal achieved...

  5. Hi there! We buy crates that size from a local who started a business recycling pallets. You can buy the most amazing wood from him! Our crates come in 3 sizes, but the one we like, cost R60 ea. Still money well spent! We use cardbox, newsprint, grass bales and compost to fill ours. And I must say, the veg grow fantastic in them. Oh, I also water from our tank and give them worm tea.

    1. Marlene - Sounds like you have a smart recycler there.

      Yeah, my veg get worm tea too, and a mix of mainline / rainwater - whichever is available ;)

  6. excellent use of found materials! love it.

  7. They look brilliant, what a good idea. All those lovely veg look so healthy, you certainly have green fingers!

    1. Chickpea - Dunno about the green fingers - think it's more the 'paca poo :D


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