While Dad's away, build a vegetable garden in a day!

Benjamin Meredith-Hardy
Wednesday, 6th July 2011

If you're having trouble convincing the landowner (Dad) to have a vegetable patch, why not try a clever tactic like this young permaculturist.

I have been interested in farming all of my life but the furthest I got with it was an large model farm in the back garden with plastic cows and poultry, fenced in by twigs and string. This was until one of my friends introduced me to permaculture and it just made sense to me. We have loads of apple trees but I particularly loved the idea of being able to grow my own vegetables too, even if the space I had wasn't enough to make a commercial farm.

My family thought this was good idea, all except one, my dad, who loves his ornamental roses and neat flower beds to remain undisturbed – this was quite a big issue as he was the landowner!

So one day, when my dad went out sailing, we waved him goodbye and as soon as he was down the road, we rushed into the garden with our forks and spades. We dug out three large vegetable beds on one of the lawns against a wall. We chose this area because it was out of the way and a suntrap but the wall has also been useful for plants that need support, like beans and sunflowers. With help from my big brother, we built the frames out of recycled floorboards to make raised beds. We stacked and built a grass chair on the end of the three beds with all the lawn we carefully dug out. It looked great, but when my dad came back I don't think he was very pleased to see a part of his garden demolished! We soon helped him come round to the idea of having a veggie garden by feeding him as much of its produce as possible.

Since then we have grown all our own herbs and many root plants, salads, tomatoes, broad beans and lots of other things. They normally grow successfully, but not always!

My dad soon grew to the idea and has helped us build up the bed structure properly and he sorted out the gutters so we could harvest rain in the waterbutt. We also now grow things like spinach and wild garlic in the shade under the trees. And we even cleared one of his shady flowerbeds just for rhubarb!

The grass chair was destroyed by the rain during the winter, but it was very fun building it anyway. This year, the potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes are doing really well but we had to mulch it with cardboard in the spring because the weeds also love to grow there.

If you haven't already started your own vegetable patch, I recommend it! It's fun for all the family to help, but if you're an unsuspecting dad, watch out!

All of these pictures were taken by Benjamin who has a photographic blog called Min, which is well worth a visit.


hayley |
Fri, 08/07/2011 - 09:46
If you have a story like this, get in touch! hayley [at] permaculture [dot] co [dot] uk They've been doing similar things in Melbourne http://www.permablitz.net/