Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Edging my bets

This summer has been discouraging for those of us who like to grow vegies. Despite relatively few pest problems (mainly due to the cooler weather, I think) the rainfall has made things difficult. Many plants have simply rotted in the ground herbs especially.

For those of us on heavy soils, the main lesson is that good drainage is essential. I had raised beds in my vegie garden, but they were clearly not high enough to keep roots out of trouble during the big wet. When it gets cooler I will be replacing the existing timber edges with taller retaining walls, but Ill have a few things to take into consideration before I choose the material.

Timber looks great, and is relatively cheap. Hardwood sleepers, raised two or three high and held together with spikes, make a quick and effective garden edge. Unfortunately, termites and rot will eventually take their toll on untreated hardwoods, though they will be perfectly fine in an urban garden for years. Treated pine is out, as its use is not recommended around growing food crops.

In my situation, timber has not proved adequate. I considered cement, brick and stone edgings next. Cost will be a big factor, as will the amount of growing room the larger blocks take up. In addition, when making these heavy walls it is absolutely necessary to excavate a level, solid footing otherwise the walls will be uneven and possibly unstable. Building with these products is also quite hard work.

The solution Ive settled on is to surround my raised beds with half-width corrugated iron, firmly supported with steel pegs. No doubt I could get this manufactured to order, but since I have some sheets of galvo lying around I think Ill just make do in the fine tradition of gardeners everywhere!


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