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Our latest adventures out and about..
 
The hot month of February was spent completing Tony and Nicole's multi terraced food garden at Skye, though we did take few days out to clean up Sharon and Vaughan's veggie garden at Fullarton.
 
Tony and Nicole's multi-terraced food garden
 
The back yard of Tony and Nicole's property at Skye drops steeply down into a deep bush covered valley.  Turning this wild slope into a multi terraced food garden and outdoor entertainment area was a brave vision requiring logistical planning, hard work and patience. 
 
Vital Veggies mapped out and designed the food garden.  Careful consideration was given to the placement of the berry gardens, veggie gardens, fruit trees and herb gardens on each of the terraces to make use of sunlight and the micro climate in this area, but also to economise access.  The lowest garden level is quite a hike from the back door down four sets of very steep steps - better suited for the berry gardens and veggies that don't need daily picking.
 
The lower level terrace
 
We love the lower level.  It's wild down there and the view over the valley is stunning.  
Gully winds blew gales on some mornings before the summer heat set in and blistered our tools and bodies. 
Just before Christmas we completed making the 30 garden beds on site.  One set of beds would sit against the retaining walls and hold the bushy berries; facing these, under the pine trees would be beds for the climbing berries.  In between we made a set of diamond shaped beds for a variety of veggies.
3 garden beds completed on the lower level, 27 more to go...
 
In nearby trees, koalas growled back at the power tools.   Kookaburras and yellow tailed black cockatoos chatted and sang all around us. Lizards jumped in and out of our lunch bags.  Luckily the snakes kept their distance....
 
Our work on this level was interrupted firstly by the Christmas break, and then by the wall rendering which had to be completed before we could position all the garden beds. 
 
Finally it was time to fill the completed beds with soil.
60 tons of our special soil were delivered to Tony and Nicole's driveway and a chute was constructed so the soil could flow from the house level down to the 30 garden beds on the lower level. 
Tony operated the Bobcat up at the house, dropping the soil into the chute.  Roger operated the digger at the bottom, putting the soil into the garden beds.
The work was hot and dirty.
Tony dropping soil into the chute
Roger moving soil at the bottom of the chute
 
Sally smoothed out the soil in the beds, installed the irrigation, and planted all the berries.
Goji berries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, cape gooseberries and strawberry guavas were placed in the beds against the retaining wall.  The climbing berries were planted in the opposite beds where trellis was installed: raspberries, tayberries, marionberries, boysenberries, thornless blackberries, and kiwiberries.
In the diamond garden beds we've planted some winter veggies: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes and onions with a couple of free beds reserved for asparagus.
 
To finish off this level we laid weed control matting over the ground followed by a final layer of compost and mulched the berry gardens with straw.
The middle level terrace
 
The next level up was designed to have vines along the wall side, fruit trees overlooking the outer edges and a lawn area in-between.
Garden beds had already been built into this level and rendered during construction so we didn't have to make them.
 
Our work here was to fill the beds with soil, install the automatic irrigation system, and plant the vines and fruit trees.
Middle level: Soil dropping out of the chute and being watered to reduce the dust.  Roger is moving soil into the garden beds
 
Mid summer...these were long, hot 40 plus degree days, and the work was intense for everyone.
But when the time came to plant, we were all rewarded for the hard preparation work.
Sally planting the grape vines along the southern end of the rendered wall we planted 8 grape vines

Along the northern end we planted 8 passion fruit vines: black, golden and banana varieties. 

Two exotic dragon fruit plants take pride of place in the middle.  They'll grow to produce exquisite flowers and fruit.  In amongst the vines are a selection of green leafy veggies, beetroot, carrots, climbing peas and broad beans.
 
In the garden beds opposite the vines, the baby fruit trees are now happily established, and what a magnificent selection of fruit Tony and Nicole will soon have: nashi pears, william pears, 2 varieties of apple and cherry, a peach, peacharine, nectarine, apricot, pomegranate, fig, lime, finger lime, 2 different lemon trees and 3 orange trees!
 
This is going to be an amazing food forest.
Baby fruit trees on Level 2 overlooking the veggie and berry gardens on Level 3
 
The upper level terrace
 
The upper terrace level is closest to the house and only one steep flight of stairs down from the back door.  One long garden bed had already been built into place here and after filling it with soil we planted all the 'go-to' veggies: late tomatoes, kale, lettuces, spring onions and a selection of herbs.
You can see the newly planted Level 1 veggie garden bed on the right side of the image.
 
As a complimentary gesture, Roger planted a few nut trees somewhere down the bushy slope and ran a line of irrigation to them.  They'll take a couple years to get established, giving Tony and Nicole a bit of time to establish the pathway down to collect the nuts! 

We're thrilled that we'll get to service and look after Tony and Nicole's huge food garden on a regular basis.  Working on the slope and climbing the steep sets of stairs between terraces (with equipment!) is more than compensated for by the magnificent views across the valley and immersion in the wild natural environment.

Revitalising Sharon and Vaughan's garden
 
Vital Veggies did a complete garden makeover for Sharon and Vaughan late last year as you may recall from these before and after images.
Before the Vital Veggies makeover in 2014
After the Vital Veggies makeover in 2014
 
Following the makeover, Sharon enthusiastically bought and planted an enormous array of summer veggies, herbs and berries, and delighted in adding her uniquely whimsical decor touches to the garden.  Vaughan happily took on responsibility for garden maintenance and looking after their 4 new chooks. 
 
With 15 garden beds full of veggies, herbs, vines and berries in the back yard, front yard, and down the side of the house, this is a deceptively large garden, and over the following few months it became clear that maintaining it was a challenge for both of them.  Vital Veggies was called back in late February to assist with a clean up to get the garden back on track and also to do some further work.
Strawberry beds in the front yard
 
After weeding and cleaning up all the strawberry beds and passionfruit vines in the front and side gardens, we moved to the back.
Pumpkins and rockmelons near the back fence
 
The first job was to clean out the second garden bed and move the chooks house on to it.  The chook house was designed and made to fit on top of the garden beds so that it can be moved every few months.  This gives the soil in each bed a 'rest' and a period of chook poo fertilisation.
Chook house after moving it from Bed #1 in the foreground to Bed #2.
 
 We trimmed and tied up the berries, removed weeds and old veggies, fixed up beds and netting, and tidied the yard. 
 
Grapevines were then planted along the back fence, additional irrigation installed and another 4 chooks added to the brood.  Sharon's work colleagues have been the lucky beneficiaries of some huge organic double-yoker eggs.
 
To increase ease of access to the veggie beds, we'll increase the height of 8 garden beds for Sharon in early March.  Roger will make the additional beds on site, attach them to the existing ones, and fill them with more Vital Veggies soil, raising them to a height of 60cm.
 
To help Sharon and Vaughan manage their large veggie gardens, we'll service and look after them fortnightly from now on, but leave all the planting and decorating fun to Sharon!
Beware...

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