Do you remember this?
Last July I was blogging about how our digger driver Pete had flattened out a pad for our vegetable garden, down the hill from our house but in the sun all year. I had great fun marking out beds and planning them and then... the rain fell, the sun shone, the weeds grew and we ran out of money! Although I did plant some asparagus I'm blowed if I know where it is now... the pumpkins came to nothing and we had 3 watermelons and some beetroot among the couch grass and the occasional nasturtium. Ah well - that's what happens if you don't get on top of the vegetation in this part of the world: it gets on top of you!
Speed through the year and we get to July 2011 and - look away now, dear permaculture/rural fire brigade friends! - a sprayer full of Roundup, a couple of weeks of dry weather and a pyromaniac husband with a box of matches. Dearest husband kindly waited until I was off the block to "off" the problems, with the result that I drove back along the main road one sunny afternoon, looking thoughtfully at the column of smoke rising up from the driveway and pretty much guessed what was going on.
I must admit, arthritis and all, it was getting a bit daunting with wild Australian grasses taller than me and mouse spiders lurking underneath so I am secretly a little glad that the "problems" were resolved so quickly. From now on we're going to be clean, green and pesticide-free...
Earlier in the week I ordered nut grass-free super vegetable garden soil and tea tree mulch, and I bought recycled hardwood planks from the local reclamation yard and lots of carriage screws. On Sunday - a beautiful clear day and not too hot - our gang of working party friends came around at 9:00am and we started putting it all together:
Friends brought ratchets and socket sets, wheelbarrows and shovels, circular saws and sun hats and we provided tea, coffee, cake and lunch (salad, home made onion and herb rolls, home-smoked chicken pieces, roasted vegetables, potatoes baked in olive oil/salt/fresh rosemary/lemon, and home-cured and hot-smoked ham with - of course! - nice beer and cider). We worked until almost 2pm with a short tea-break, then had a leisurely lunch and worked it off again until we called it quits around 4pm.
8 adults over about 6 hours = 48 hours work = a lot of weed-matted paths, two compost bays made from recycled pallets and star pickets, a weed-matted pumpkin/sweetcorn/climbing bean bed, a rotivated and planted potato bed (I've been chitting the heirloom seed potatoes for a few weeks now!), a rotivated and planted asparagus bed with some added rhubarb and bergamot, and four 2.2 metre long/1.2 metre wide raised beds all weeded, stones cleared, wet cardboard in the bottom and 25cms soil and 10+ cms mulch on top.
The whole 'working bee' idea is just great: four couple works out about right since it means that if you do it roughly once a month you're likely to get two working bees a year at your place, and it's just a fun social thing to do anyway. So a huge thank you goes out to Taja, Robin, Ruth, Darren, Elsbeth and Linda with added support from the kids! And dearest husband did a magnificent job with the food, as well as the gardening. Toby had a lot of fun too, once he stopped barking at everyone.