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Our latest adventures out and about…
 
Two garden beds for Brian and Janet
 
We met Brian and Janet at the Home Living Expo in April.  Like many others we spoke to over those 3 days, they had grown veggies in the past, then abandoned the idea when other priorities took over.  Now with Janet retired, and Brian nearly retired, they felt it was time to get back into the garden.
 
Being on a budget they chose to have 2 simple galvanised iron beds installed and filled with our super soil.  Now in her mid 60s, Janet has retired and is really keen to start growing veggies again so she’ll plant and care for the veggie garden herself.
 
Their Para Hills back yard drops down over multiple levels.  Close to the back door is a swimming pool, from which steep steps lead down into the bushy back garden.  Brian and Janet have lived here for years and much of their back yard gardening history can still be seen here, buried amidst trees and tangled masses of bushes. 
 
Our job was simply to install 2 galvanised garden beds and fill them with our soil.
Easy?  Not as easy as it sounds…
 
We loaded up the 2 garden beds and arrived early on a rainy morning.   The 4.3 tons of our soil had been delivered onto their driveway the day before.  
As is the case with some installations, not everything goes to plan. Having not done a ‘reconnaissance’ visit prior to the installation, we arrived to find no way for the digger to access the back yard site.  This meant soil would have to be taken to the back yard in wheelbarrow loads, which is both time consuming and physically taxing.
 
Preparing the site
First we laid weed control mat over the area, then assembled the galvanised garden beds, inserting batons on the inside of the beds in case hoops need to be installed in the future.  To keep the costs down Janet and Brian are going to buy some bark chips or sawdust to layer over the weed control mat around the beds.
 
Working within such a small area of garden meant we had to first put one garden bed in place, fill it with soil, then put the second garden bed in place.
 
Sally had the job of operating the digger in the driveway to fill 2 wheelbarrows alternately with soil.  Roger, in his usual energetic, unstoppable mode, ran the full wheelbarrows around the back, perilously down the plank that he’d placed on the steps, over to the garden beds, and up another plank to tip the soil into the 60cm high beds.
Coco, Janet’s big brown bouncy poodle pup, kept us entertained while we worked, happy to be part of the fun and games.
Luckily the forecast rain held off until we were sweeping up the last of the soil in the driveway. 
Sharon and Vaughan’s Hothouse
 
There’s no camouflaging Sharon’s front veggie garden now that we’ve installed a hot house.
Installing the hot house was simple, thanks to the hoop house frames.
Inside of every Vital Veggies garden bed we fit steel batons that are designed to hold steel rods.  The steel rods fit into the batons and support piping to make the round Hoop Houses.  This piping can be covered with netting to protect veggies from pests and birds or they can be covered with horticultural greenhouse plastic to make a hot house.
 
We’ll keep you posted on how well Sharon’s summer veggies grow in the hothouse during our Adelaide winter…
 
Rainbow Child Care Centre additional garden beds
 
Visiting the Rainbow Child Care Centre at Westfield Marion Shopping Centre to service their veggie and berry gardens is always fun.  The children often help us to plant and harvest the veggies and our dirty hands are always a source of terror for them.
 
The centre is located on a semi rooftop on the third floor.  On the western side of the building a narrow unused area, about 3m wide, was identified as a potential site for more garden beds for small fruit trees.
The location isn’t ideal for growing veggies as it doesn’t get much sun, but any opportunity to introduce more nature into harsh environments, especially where children are concerned, is worthy of the challenge.
 
Installing the 2 garden beds felt like a covert operation.  Arriving under the cover of darkness at 6.30am, we had to work fast, installing and filling the beds with soil before the workers and shoppers arrived.
Roger took the garden beds up the lift and placed them in position.
Then came the work of filling them with soil.  Unable to use the digger in this situation we had to resort (again!) to pushing wheelbarrow loads up and down a plank.
Sally courageously pushed empty wheelbarrows up the plank and into the trailer and filled them with soil. Roger was the runner.  He collected the filled wheelbarrows, took them down the plank, into the shopping centre, up the lifts, through the centre and emptied the soil into the garden beds.
We filled and emptied about 20 wheelbarrow loads in 1 hour.
Onlookers were both puzzled and bemused by the military vehicle and the tough little waif in the trailer shovelling soil into wheelbarrows.
 
After connecting up all the irrigation piping, the job was finished.
We’ll consult with the Centre’s staff to decide what fruit trees, bushes and veggies to plant in these beds.
After cleaning up and packing up, we enjoyed a well-earned morning espresso from the Sanctuary Tea House.
NOTE: On a subsequent service visit to the Child Care Centre, we took up a container of Biodynamic Fish Emulsion to fertilise their veggie gardens.
When returning down in one of the elevators, a big, burly man turned to us and said, “So you two are the ones who stunk out the other elevator!”
Ooops…
 
Anglicare Child Care Centre
 
To finish off the month of May, we got to do an installation where we could use the digger to fill garden beds!
Anglicare Child Care Centre caters for children with varying degrees of autism, and we felt privileged for the opportunity to install garden beds here and introduce the children to growing vegetables.
 
Here is the empty site waiting for the garden beds in the morning:
And here are finished beds later in the afternoon:
Once the beds were filled with soil, staff brought the children out in the afternoon to help us with the planting.  We broke them up into 2 groups, Roger taking one group to plant in one bed, and Sally taking the other group. 
 
We started by getting each child to plant a pea or a broad bean.  That was easy - make a hole, put in the bean, cover it with soil.
As planting progressed to lettuce, kale, beetroot, spinach, parsley and coriander, some of the children lost interest and went off to play, but others got more enthusiastic and wanted to plant everything everywhere!
 
It was a delightful experience, the highlight for me being when staff looked on incredulously at children who had previously been horrified at messy hands and dirt, now sensuously rubbing the soil in and around their fingers and hands.
 
Next month we’ll install some berry garden beds in another section of the centre.  We’re looking forward to visiting fortnightly and working with the children, growing their garden, caring for their veggies and watching their faces light up with joy as their hands disappear into our soft, rich, soil.
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