There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder. ~ Alfred Austin
Late last year, during our last kerb collection, I found a retired wicker cane lounge. The mattress was mouldy, but the structure itself was sound and sturdy.
It’s shape was just begging to be made into a retro-inspired raised garden bed. So I carefully lined with with several layers of hessian, tied to it’s skeletal frame. I then lined the inside with newspaper and filled it to the brim with (cheap generic brand) potting mix I bought from my local hardware store.
I then enthusiastically planted a few Tomatoes in the centre, and planted the edges with a few varieties of Basil. I mulched it with sugarcane mulch and then retreated to my hammock to behold the coming bounty.
Nothing grew at all. Hmmnnnnn….. maybe the scorching summer was to blame.
So next season, I added a bit of cow manure and planted Rainbow Chard. I also moved it to a shadier spot.
Then I moved it (grunt!) to a sunnier spot.
So I replanted the Rainbow Chard to the garden bed, added a bit of sheep poo to the raised bed and planted Broccolini. I had a spare Broccolini that I tucked into a space in a nearby bed, in the company of some Snow Peas. Then, around the perimeter, I planted some hardy Nasturtiums that I had rescued from growing between limestone blocks.
About a month later I am happy to report they aren’t dead, but they’re not exactly what you would call happy either.
Meanwhile, the replanted Rainbow Chard is thriving in its narrow little bed near my Corn. Despite the fact that about 5cm underneath the surface of the soil, there is a big concrete slab. The Nasturtiums have re-colonised the pile of limestone rocks. And they are flowering.
The Broccolini planted near the Snow Peas is twice the size of the one in the raised bed.
I’ve christened it,
The Veggie Bed of Doom.
Clearly, the soil has to be the problem. Using both the “control” Broccolini plant and the transplanted Rainbow Chard as proof, I’m wondering if the potting mix I used is not only nutrient deficient, but also possibly toxic. I would have imagined adding the manure, and the worm tea would have improved the nutrient mix. It is a little baffling.
In the coming few weeks, when I am ready to put the no-dig layers into my raised front beds, The Veggie Bed of Doom will get the same treatment. If that doesn’t work, then I will be completely flummoxed. Worst comes to worst, my recycled raised bed might find it’s way back to the kerb next collection.
That would be a terrible shame. I think it would be great planted with Cape Gooseberries, spilling their little berry filled paper lanterns over the edge of the bed.
I have not lost hope! Stay tuned!