Synthetic grass/turf around my vegetable garden

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Mark, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Upkeeping my deck (front and back) drives me crazy - tiles does sound appealing alright!

    Thanks Kasalia, I just finished laying the rubber mats down this afternoon.

    Naturally, I couldn't possibly lay the mats down without having to customise most of them by cutting to size/shape with a sharp Stanley knife and this took a considerable amount of time to do but I'm very happy with the end result.

    A point to note was how fast the Stanley box cutter blades went blunt slicing through the rubber instead of replacing the blades I just kept sharpening them on my old hand grinder it worked a treat!

    These rubber pavers really seat together easily - even on slightly undulating ground which is good because this particular area was not completely level and even the smaller patch work in areas worked nicely due to the weight of them they tend to stay put once in place.

    I'll clean up the off-cuts and rubbish then take a pic tomorrow and post it here.
     
  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    It's done!

    Well, technically it's not fully finished because I've decided to cut key holes into my old big square sleeper beds in order to make accessing the centre of the beds easier so I have left a gap in the paving for just that - see in the pic below.

    vegetable patch rubber pavers and key hole beds.jpg
    The rest of the rubber paving looks great - so much better underfoot than gravel too!
     
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  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Your garden is so 'orderly' Mark! You would die if you came to mine right now! It is completely overgrown.
    All this rain & humidity while I was busy with the bench top has sent the whole garden into overdrive.
    The grass has seeded & is hip height all through the pathways & around the edges of each bed, the plants are seeding & falling all over the place while others are eaten down to the stems by critters.
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    It doesn't always look orderly but I'm keen this year to try and keep the patch in better shape than in the past. I really want to "cash in" this winter and be prepared so I'm doing a heap of work in this off season to get the beds up to scratch and fix issues that have been bugging me for years once and for all! I said to my wife yesterday, "this is the year of doing everything I've been putting off," and I mean it! :)
     
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  5. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Looks good Mark....it's a 'marked' improvement indeed. :twothumbsup:
    (see what i did there, I've still got it, haha)
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
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  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You've still got it alright Steve :p
     
  7. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Magnificent. Inspirational. Truly, that's the kind of result I'm after, but at the moment, I have a blank canvas and not enough time in the day to get there. Well done mate.
     
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  8. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I'm going to read all this in my recliner with a :tea:. All looks great Mark and food for thought for our own planned veggie area :)
     
  9. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Looks really good Mark, you have certainly done a lot of work.

    The area looks large, how big is the area for the veggie garden metre x metre?

    So if you had a blank slate how would do you things now, what would you do different?
     
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  10. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Yes @letsgo, a great question, @Mark how would you do it if presented with a blank slate? Can I also expand that and ask what do you believe are some important points for you that needs to be considered when designing a garden? Eg where to locate a compost area, herbs garden, orchard etc.
    I know it all depends on the lay of the land and every plot is different but I'm interested in what your thoughts are...

    Discuss

    Cheers
     
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  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Lots of good questions guys and after a decade of experiments I've learned many lessons about vegetable gardening and fruit tree growing.

    I did start out growing most of my crops in furrows and this took a great amount of digging by hand. Than I upgraded to using a beast of a tiller to work the ground over each season like a mini farm but honestly I haven't dragged that machine out for ages.

    Raised beds are where I have evolved to now days and the main reason for this is because it's easier and if you are doing a lot of work on your property like me then savings in physical energy and time becomes valuable indeed.

    And, the higher raised beds (around 70 - 85 cms) are my favorite. After a day in the garden, my back and knees really appreciate stand up gardening it makes a huge difference especially as you get older or suffer from injury/disability.

    I still have a mix of lower raised beds and higher raised beds with a small "wild" area at the back of my patch for odd plants not suited to raised beds such as rosella plants as they get too big.

    However, if I started over from scratch I would buy or build all high raised beds, actually I probably wouldn't even bother using wood sleepers I would simply use galvanised or colorbond raised beds - they last longer and are easier to build.

    I'd get several different shapes because round, rectangle, oval, or hexagonal can be useful for different crops but they'd all be 70-85 cm high - except for my "wild" area where I'd either keep in ground or small raised beds no higher than 40 cm to grow higher plants like corn or rosella (as I mentioned earlier).

    Tomatoes come to mind also as a tall crop requiring a small sided raised garden bed, although, I'm working on ways to grow them in high beds and I've had recent success tumbling indeterminate tomatoes down over high round beds (no stakes) ;)

    Crops that historically have been grown up like beans or peas for example can be trained to tumble down or climb over an archway in between two raised beds. I'm trying all these things and I reckon it'll work but if it doesn't I'll always keep a few raised beds with smaller sides for these types of plants.

    There's other good reasons for high raised vegetable garden beds besides being easier to dig, weed, harvest, or irrigate, such as: less pests/animals, better soil development over time, easier crop organisation, and they look good.

    I'm currently writing an article about raised beds covering the points above in more depth and I'm also chatting on Sunshine Coast radio this Monday about this very subject so hopefully I can post a podcast of our conversation here and a link to the article when it's done.

    The other major thing I would change if starting from scratch is to ensure the access areas and pathways around my vegetable garden beds were well drained particularly in a high rainfall climate because these areas quickly turn to mud in a well used veggie patch during bad weather. I've fixed this problem now but I did take the long road in doing so.

    Also, I wished I had built my initial raised beds so I could reach the centre from the side without getting into the bed. Walking into the garden bed to dig, weed, harvest etc is not only inconvenient or difficult when the bed is full of plants but it also compacts the soil which isn't good for food crops.

    I make sure the centre of all beds I build now can be reached without getting into it.

    Our patch is about 16 x 40 mtrs. Our composting area is at the back of our vegetable garden it's handy to have it close by and it should be big enough to hold several heaps of compost on the go, a pile of ready made compost, plus the odd dump of manure maturing before being ready to use. Of course, your composting area is relative in size to your garden so for ours we have 3 large bays.

    One thing I did get right from the beginning was the positioning of our vegetable garden. Full sun most of the day and away from large trees shade and roots.

    Food gardening is high energy stuff and full sun is very important when it comes to growing productive and healthy plants.

    Having the patch positioned central in the backyard overall is handy for access and it's practical. Some people want a vegetable garden but don't want it to be seen - this can be a mistake... we use our patch as a showcase so we deliberately framed it right in the middle of our back lawn.

    This also had an unintended advantage in regards to damage from animals like possums. Due to the several metres of grass between our patch and the nearest tree there's much less crop damage.

    In the beginning, I did place a few beds closer to the trees and unless I netted them the crops would get smashed but since moving all the beds to the central location I hardly ever see any crop damage from animals.

    I'll have a break from typing on my phone and write some more in another post soon including orchard or fruit tree sighting and what worked for us.
     
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  12. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    thanks Mark, chapter one was great information.....can't wait for chapter two!
     
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  13. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks Mark, really appreciate you sharing your experiences.

    We have started planning our veggie patch, much smaller than yours :) but still pretty good size allowing 9m x 8m give or take and in full sun winter and summer. Not far from the house, shed, water etc

    We have some 800mm high corrugated beds and one 400mm. We were going to build the rest of the beds we wanted out of hardwood sleepers to 800mm high but after what you have said we may just go the corrugated bed way. Let me know if you see any on special :) We are going to put an automatic watering drip system on all beds.

    I am wondering about climbing plants like tomatoes, peas, beans, snow peas, cucumber, zucchini etc and corn as you have mentioned what is the best garden beds for them. I was thinking 400mm beds but then they can only go in that bed/beds and not be rotated around to the other beds. Would it work to have them climbing on trestles to a height I can reach and then let them grow down and hang down the bed, so growing up and down?

    What about spuds, what is the best garden bed size for them? Are pumpkin better to just have an area on the ground they can ramble over?

    Is filling the 800mm beds with 400mm crushed granite and then the rest with good soil still your preferred way of filling the raised beds?

    We plan on putting compacted gravel/crushed granite and then synthetic grass around the beds to stop weeds. We don't have any issues with wet or muddy areas on our block.

    The veggie area will be away from all trees, just one palm 3/4m away. If we should encounter possum problems eating the veggies what would be your preferred way of protecting the beds. Do each one individually if needed or fence the whole area as we have that option and had been considering it, but is that really needed. We could make allowances for a fence later if required. The chooks have their own area.

    How about hydroponics, have you ever considered that wondering if for lettuce, spinach, strawberries, etc if this would be a good option?

    Sure I will have more questions :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  14. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    What would be a good size/shape? I would have thought beds that were bigger made use of the area better rather than smaller ones where you had to leave gaps between each bed. Keeping in mind that the veggie garden area would be a certain set size in my case and not an ever ending garden size I could keep adding too. Obviously not too wide, making sure you can reach into the middle from both sides. For example Stratco have 800H x 800W x 1790L for $129 on special. I am thinking that 800mm wide isn't wide enough. I know you could get 2 but with a gap takes up a bigger footprint than something say twice as wide to start with, if you get my meaning?

    You mention different sizes can be used for different crops but it you are crop rotating every year then don't you want beds that could take many different crops?
     
  15. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Bugger, wish I'd read this post earlier...today was Day One of building a raised veggie patch. As usual we grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to build!
    My patch is only about 5.5x6m. It's actually at the front (roadside) of the house, and gets great sun all day.
    I've had garden beds (ground level) around the outer perimeter for 14months (had to wait until we finished our reno) but quickly ran out of space. Because it's not an elevated bed, the perimeter will be reserved for perennials and self seeding annual herbs that don't require too much maintenance. Today we built a 3mx1m raised bed (timber). The ground is very gently sloping, so we put a "step" in the bed...1.3m long section is 600mm high, while the rest is 400mm. I might live to regret this as it was done more for aesthetics, and probably would've been easier on the back had it all been taller. I'm planning to put taller things (tomatoes, peas, beans etc) in the lower bed, and brassicas, zucchini etc in the higher section.
    Next weekend we'll hopefully get the matching bed built in the other side of the central pathway.
    We don't seem to have too many drainage issues so for now I've left the lawn (sir Walter) but reading everyone's posts, this might not be such a good idea!
    Will hopefully post some pics of our "handiwork" tomorrow when it's light! Would love to see pics of other people's patches - always good to be able to recycle other people's ideas!
     
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  16. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Letsgo you'll need to allow quite a bit of space for your pumpkin to ramble. I have a Kent pumpkin, which is planted in a garden bed of ornamental hedges next to the veggie patch. It rambles over about 10m2 of concrete handstand...and gives me so many pumpkins I don't know what to do with them! (There's 6 on it at the moment, so I've stopped fertilising any more flowers, and am hoping the bees don't cause too many more) You can only eat so much pumpkin soup, pie, muffins!
    They have a reasonable food/water requirement, so I have mine on the irrigation system and just chuck some slow release fertiliser at it every now and then.
    The hard stand is great as it stops the pumpkins from rotting which can happen if they're on soil...an easy fix by just putting some newspaper under them though.
    The vines are pretty hardy, so I've got no doubt they'd easily handle cascading down from a raised bed, and then rambling around - although it might make access difficult if they ramble over your paths.
     
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  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Sounds great - you can grow plenty in that space.
    You will get 10 years out of sleepers so it's a good material for raised garden beds although I do think the galvanised or colorbond beds are longer lasting and easier to assemble to be honest. Hardwood beds do look good to though...

    I like having different sizes and shapes of raised beds because I can grow all these mini crops completely separate to each other. I can grow jalapenos in a bed and fully cover the crop from fruit fly and in the next bed I can grow lettuce without a cover. I can rest a bed or several over a season without much impact on production.

    There's heaps of different materials or combinations of raised beds to suit whatever property or situation. If need be you can grow pumpkins up a trellis instead of letting it roam all over the yard but if it's a big variety you'll have to sling the fruit to provide support for it that's all.
    Yes it does work, so if you only had a certain amount of lower sided raised beds and say these were being rested from a certain crop (like beans) then you could use a higher raised bed in the meantime and let the plants grow up a small structure and then let them tumble back down again right down the sides to the ground if you wanted.
    You can grow spuds in any sized bed (even a bucket) and potatoes have a pretty versatile growing medium from straw through to slightly heavy soil as long as they are not over watered or over fertilised and your seed is disease free from the beginning potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow.
    Crushed granite works well and I still do recommend it.

    However, in the last 4 raised beds (high sides 70 - 85 cms) I used organic matter found on our property to fill the bottom half - things like logs, sticks, leaves, weeds, etc and the reason I did this was because it not only saved costs it will provide a living base of microorganisms, fungi, worms, that will break down this organic matter and add value to the bed over time.

    The top half I filled with premium garden soil (purchased in bulk) and then mulched. Don't be too concerned about drainage in these large raised beds - even if the whole bed was soil it wouldn't really matter to be honest because the base is open. Yes, technically if one was worried about a bed becoming water logged then go with some granite or sand in the base but really what I have learnt from my beds over the past several years shows little difference if it has proper drainage medium in the base or not. I now think organic matter is a better option for the lower half.

    Yeah, do that... You might find like me that possums aren't a problem and sometimes you just need to cover the plants until they are past seedling and the possums leave them alone after that. Plus, not all plants need covering - well, that's my experience anyway. My biggest problem is fruit fly so I need to cover vulnerable plants with a fine insect net and prefer to do this as required bed by bed rather than try to make the whole area fruit fly proof.

    I have considered it and although I find hydroponics interesting it's not for me. I find hydroponically grown crops don't taste as good as in soil. Plants pull more than just food from the soil and that's why grapes from different vineyards taste slightly different - I think vegetables grown in your own soil mix take on a bit of your own individual property but that's just my opinion and I suppose I have good success growing vegetables in soil so can't be bothered changing :)

    There's logic in that... as long as the centre can be reached from the side of the bed it's personal preference really. As I said before, I like a mix because just as the big raised beds are great from my asparagus and ginger crop a small round bed is good for herbs or one of my stand alone "experiments."

    I don't necessarily crop rotate every year. Sometimes I'll grow the same annual crop in the same bed for several years in a row and there are plants such as self-seeding coriander that spring up in the same place every year and have done for the past decade. Crop rotation is a good concept but I've never followed it; however, if a certain bed has a pest build-up affecting a certain crop I will give it a rest for a few seasons and try something else - it's not something I plan each year though.

    I'll write some more tomorrow! :)
     
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  18. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks Mark, really appreciate your feedback and you sharing your experiences. I value them greatly, you have given me plenty of food for thought. And I'm sure others will benefit from the post as well :)

    I actually really like the colourbond garden beds. I remember seeing them years ago thinking they would be great but were very expensive. At least they have come down in price a bit. We plan on being here a long time, and everything we are doing to the place is keeping that in mind. So beds that last longer sound good to me. The only reason to consider the hardwood sleepers was pricing. The colourbond would certainly be a lot easier to set up, just a case of picking them up at the right price. It is something I could make allowance to add to the veggie patch area as pricing allows.

    Interesting that you don't rotate the crops. Always thought that was a pain :)

    I am mulling over building or buying a big 400mm bed that could be used for multiple climbing plants in sections along the bed with fixed trellis. Then I could move where I put the plants from year to year or every now and then :) so kind of rotating them but in the same long bed. :) some would still end up in the higher beds though.

    It would be a case of finding enough organic matter around to fill the beds. We could certainly find some and see the value in that. As they break down you would have to keep adding more soil though to the bed. What are your thoughts on bamboo leaves in the bottom of the bed? I don't think they break down as quickly as other leaves. Our neighbour has some huge bamboo that puts leaves all over our yard, right pain. Something we plan to talk to him about, not a friendly chap though.
     
  19. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I remember seeing a clip on Gardening Australia or some TV show where they showcased an Italian family backyard vegetable garden it was beautiful and every square inch was devoted to food crops.

    Anyway, in that episode they talked about how "Nona" grows her Roma tomatoes in the same spot every year and has done for decades by squashing a few unharvested tomatoes into the ground after each season to let them self sow for the next. No crop rotation there but it obviously works for her :D

    What a good plan! That'd look nice too.

    Perfect! Use any organic matter waste for the base. We had a caller on the radio show yesterday ask if she could use palm fronds for the base of raised beds as fill and I thought that was a good idea also. Yes, it might take years to break down but it will eventually.

    In regards to topping the beds up with compost, you will find this is necessary nearly every season because dirt compacts over time or the organic base matter breaks down and the bed sinks a little, or harvesting, weeding etc removes dirt. This is a positive thing because it's good to add new compost or mulch each season anyway to top the beds and keep the nutrients up.
     
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  20. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Well palm fonds we can do, we get a lot of them :) Just have to see at the time what's around. Winter we are planning on cutting down of palms near the house and finish cleaning up the boundaries, so we could save ourselves a few trips to the tip :)
     

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