"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

Saturday 29 April 2017

Preparation paid off

How many of you remember me telling you about some raised beds we made back in February last year?

For those who are new readers I'll  give you a quick recap:
Granite tile crates
We got some crates which had been used to pack / transport granite tiles from the local tile shop and placed them in our shadecloth veggie patch.
Once in position, the crate base was lined with stones - to keep
moles out, and to allow for adequate drainage / prevent compaction
 at the base
 The base of the crate was lined with rocks - to allow for drainage.
one of the layers of alpaca poo
  Then we lined the sides with plastic to prevent the soil washing out, and to retain water.
Lined and layered - it was allowed to settle for a month
Then we layered straw, alpaca poo, soil, straw, alpaca poo, soil, etc (plus some bone meal) until it was full.  it was watered and allowed to "sit" (a.k.a. sink / settle) for a month, after which it was topped up again.

I have always had difficulty growing ginger, turmeric and carrots in our stony, clay beds.  So, I throught I'd try growing them in the raised beds and see if I had more success...

Those turmeric leaves are +/- 4 feet high
Well, I'm please to say the attempt was successful.  The pic above is the turmeric.  Actually, I planted the corms in the wrong season, and forgot about them.  Lo, and behold! one day I spotted growth, and thinking back, I recalled that turmeric had been placed there.
I always think of alpaca's when I see carrot tops
 - they l-o-v-e them ;D
The carrots - they did bloody marvellous mate :D  with no distortion of the carrot due to stones ('cos there were no stones in the bed lol).
My finger gives you something to compared the carrot top to
 I didn't succession plant them (yet) - I wanted to see how they would do.
Matchbox for size indication, and scale weight as proof
 To give you an idea, one carrot weighed 540 gms (19 oz).
Proof that the 540gm carrot was not an isolated thing -
 there are others still in the bed of a similar size.
And there are more like that...  Lots more :D
Yummy, home-made coleslaw
How did it taste?

Absolutely bloody delicious :D  Juicy and sweet.

Half of the 540 gm carrot immediately went into a coleslaw, the rest will make some yummy carrots in honey butter.  And the tops were wolfed down by the alpaca's.

No waste here lol

All that alpaca poo, soil and straw layering definitely paid off.  I'm very happy with the results and will now allocate one of the three raised (crate) beds / year to carrots - rotating each crop between the three.


  1. Isn't it great when a plan comes together. Good for you!!

    1. Thanks Vicki. Yeah, when planning and hard work give visible results the encouragement is tremendous.

      Finally, we are carrot sustainable 😂

  2. So glad it worked for you! Nothing tastes better than fresh from the garden carrots.


    1. Sue - You've certainly got that right :D Couldn't get any fresher lol

  3. Wow, that's amazing! Our carrots are in raised beds (first time this year) but I don't think they're going to get THAT big! Good job!!!

    Hmm, I wonder if someone around these parts have Alpacas, ha!!!!

    1. 1st Man - This is the only way I will be able to grow cqarrots. Trying by planting them in the ground results in multi-forked carrots due to the plentiful stones... :(

      I'm sure you'll have alpaca's near you - just google your "area and alpaca's" ;) (e.g. Houston alpacas... ;) )

    2. (just did what I recommended and the first results are: Rancho Inca Alpacas, Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch, King and Prince Alpaca Farm lolol )

    3. You are awesome, thank you!! My friends always call me the king of google, yet I didn't even think to do this, ha. Close enough to the farm too to drive and pick up some poo! LOL! I will contact them and see what they have available.

    4. Hahahaha - I know you're a Google Champ - couldn;t resist teasing you :D

      USA is ahead of SA in that they market alpaca poo as Alpaca Gold - and charge accordingly too!!! But, t'is worth it - the test we had done http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.co.za/2014/11/eco-friendly-weeding-part-1.htmlon the content showed it was a superior soil additive.

  4. Those look fantastic and in a year with very little water. Well done.

    1. pqsa - Yeah, I'm amazed at the result - and very, very chuffed. Just shows you, you're never too old to learn... ;)

  5. excellent! We have grown tumeric and ginger before in hot beds. Heated from manure breaking down. My father had done this with orchids in a green house for years through my childhood. He read it in a victorian gardening book he found in my grand parents loft. Obviously you dont need the heat, maybe more rains!

    I cant wait to move now and get my garden going. I have a raised bed we made here really quickly. And I have plants to go in. Fingers crossed we have a little to pick. I am stealing your idea for stones etc for drainage.

    Are you going to make tea's with the tumeric? I have a slice with ginger in the morning.

    1. Sol - I L-O-V-E ginger and eat with with things it probably shouldn't be eaten with lol Nope, definitely don't need additional heat ;)

      I'm holding thumbs your new home becomes a reality a.s.a.p.

      The turmeric will be added to as many dishes as possible - even scrambled eggs... bwahahahaha

  6. You put much more effort into your raised beds than we did. Your's are far more sophisticated. I just built the lumber frame and then dumped in "vegetable soil" from Home Depot. I'm not trying raised beds this year, but I am going to remember this post. If we go that route next year, I'll be able to use your post as a guideline for the new beds.

    1. Harry - It would be pointless trying to grow anything in sub-standard soil ;)

      If you can, I suggest you collect all the chicken manure to add to the soil in your raised beds for next year - they will greatly benefit from the organic nitrogen ;)


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