Building a garden bed

When faced with a new site, working out where to start can sometimes be a daunting task. There are so many different ways to build a new garden bed. In some parts of our garden, the soil is very difficult to dig and/or there are roots of large, protected gum trees that we don’t want to disturb. In these areas we use raised garden beds built up using a ‘lasagna’ layering technique making use of sticks and branches, cardboard, manure, rock minerals, worm juice, mulch and compost. We work with what we have as much as possible, recycling all branches and leaves cleared during the building process.

In this area, we started with overgrown bougainvillea and durantas. First we cut back the vegetation, cutting it up into small sticks ranging in size from 30 cm to 1.5 m long.

On the cleared ground we laid down supermarket cardboard, being sure to give it a good soak with the hose once it was laid down. We then laid the chopped-up vegetation on top of the cardboard.

Next a layer of manure. Cow manure is wonderful as the multiple stage stomach digestion in cows minimises the risk of weed contamination. This time we had to settle for stable manure which came well mixed with sawdust and lucerne.

Next a layer of mulch (sugar cane mulch, forest mulch or even just more cardboard). It’s also important to add a sprinkle of rock minerals (Earth Life minerals are excellent). Continue until you have a good, mounded bed built up. About 0.5 m high in this case. Give everything a really good watering in then top dress with a final layer of mulch. We used sugarcane mulch.

For best results, give the beds about a month during summer or 6 weeks during winter, to age before planting. Alternatively, you can ‘pocket plant’ the beds by digging holes at least twice the size of the potted plant you are planting. To avoid root shock, ensure a good soaking of the pots in a tub of Seasol prior to planting.

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