I hadn’t been able to do much of this before because my vegetable patch was beside the house, and instead of the requisite six to ten hours of sun per day, it maybe got half an hour. Now that I’ve moved, I started a new vegetable patch in a nice sunny spot.
Digging it out was incredibly easy. I used a Dutch hoe to slice the grass and other plants off just underneath the soil, and then broke the ground with a mattock to loosen it before breaking the soil clumps and aerating with a cultivator.
The ground here is clay, and therefore poor-draining, low in nutrients and too dense for plants to root happily. I built raised beds out of recycled shipping pallets to fix the problem, so I would have free-draining, fluffy soil of the right composition. A raised bed is just four tall walls (about 30cm) nailed together in butt joints, a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper at the bottom to kill the grass and weeds underneath, and filled with potting mix and compost. I hammered large staples into the tops of the beds and stretched string between them to demarcate the bed, to indicate planting distance, planting rows etc.
A Woolworths on the way to work (Ermington Safeway on Victoria Road, for any Sydney residents) has been having a sale on their stock of potting mix. Two 25L bags for $7.40. Bunnings sells it for $7.90 per bag. It was a magical moment.
Together with all of the usual herbs and vegetables I always grow some watercress. It's insultingly easy to grow, and grows fast, so it gives me something to be excited about while I wait for the other, slower seeds to germinate. Rocket grows fast too, and is probably more useful. I grew both.
Basically this week I built a raised bed when I got bored. I have three of them now. Tomorrow I’ll go to the nursery and buy some tomato seeds (or plants, if I feel impatient). I also want corn.