Out and About: September/October 2016

Over the past 2 months, we renovated gardens in Glenalta and Norwood, filled some existing beds in Medindie with soil, mixed up a batch of biodynamic soil, and tended lots of winter gardens.


Glenalta renovation

How lucky we are to work outdoors. Even during the cold, rainy Adelaide winters!

Recently a job took us up to Glenalta, within a stone’s throw of Belair National Park. Showery days foiled our schedule a number of times but our client, Su, wasn’t too fussed about the intermittent delays. In fact she generously made us cups of tea while watching the transformation of her garden each day.


The original brief

  1. Remove bushes and install a 60cm high raised bed with soil near Su’s kitchen for herbs and greens.
  2. Remove the row of deceased trees nearby, replace them with 3 fruit trees and 3 berry bushes then cover the ground with sawdust.
  3. Dig out rose bushes from two in-ground beds, replace the old soil with Vital Veggies soil and plant out the two in-ground gardens with vegetables.
  4. Install a couple of gates to enclose the back yard (Su is planning to get a dog)

Before the renovation. These bushes and trees had to be removed.

Clearing the site

Sally efficiently cut down the small trees with the new Pole Saw (our new favourite gardening tool). Canopy branches were cut first, leaving the trunk ‘handles’ in tact at the base, allowing Roger to manually pull out the stumps.The remaining bushes in the plot were then dug up and removed. Notice the cut tree in the image below.

Roger building the 60cm high garden bed on site.

Roger constructed the raised bed garden on site very quickly. It was positioned in place, filled with soil and finally planted out with a selection of herbs: oregano, tarragon, marjoram, sage, and parsley (more will be planted as spring nears), also 3 varieties of spinach. In the site adjacent to the herb garden, lemon, lime and apple trees were planted with a few berry bushes near the path. Automated drip irrigation will keep the herbs and trees watered perfectly as they grow through spring and summer.

Weed control mat and a thick layer of sawdust were spread over the ground, giving it a soft aesthetic feel while keeping pesky weeds and grasses at bay.

The finished area, with a raised herb garden, 3 fruit trees, 3 berry bushes and a carpet of sawdust.

Su’s two ‘in-ground’ beds got makeovers. Vital Veggies soil replaced the old soil, and drip irrigation was installed. We planted out these beds with brassicas, broad beans, lettuces, onions, some herbs and a row of snow peas, but like everyone, Su is excited about the tomatoes that will soon be planted for spring.
BEFORE (the old rose bushes were NOT fun to dig out!) AFTER, planted out with broad beans, snowpeas, rocket and lettuces.


Some time during the renovation, the idea of chooks came up. We gave Su a quote to install a chicken coop, some fencing and a few clucky point–of-lay chooks and got the go ahead immediately! 

Here’s the end result…

The fenced off chicken area and Su’s three happy chooks.

Organic eggs, vegetables and fruit…yes, even a small, suburban back yard like Su’s can be a highly productive one. 

As always, we felt blessed to have the opportunity to make a big difference in someone’s quality of life. A home is much more homely when surrounded with a food garden, and Su now has the joy of harvesting and eating home grown produce and watching the delightful antics of her three chooks.


Norwood renovation

Genevieve and Roberto recently moved into a lovely home tucked away behind a main street in Norwood. Being from Italian heritage they’ve always enjoyed having produce gardens and called us in to help establish one in their new home.

The brief:

  1. Remove bushes and install a 60cm high raised bed with soil, a gravel surround, and drip irrigation.
  2. Dig out plants along the narrow driveway, drill holes, fill with VV soil, and install trellis wires ready for planting espalier fruit trees.

BEFORE renovating the garden bed.

Again we had to watch the weather. A mound of freshly delivered soil on the driveway can turn to a muddy mess if not moved quickly.

Tipping out a small load of VV soil after backing down the long narrow driveway.

We went to work, first clearing the garden site of bushes and vegetation, installing irrigation lines, and laying weed control mat.

Roger expertly constructed the single garden bed and laid it in place. The soil had to be shovelled from the mound in the driveway into wheelbarrows, taken around to the back yard, pushed up a ramp erected on the new raised bed, tipped in and raked out. More than forty times!

It was a good solid day’s work, helped enormously by Roberto’s amazing espresso coffees (we were in coffee heaven here).

Roger putting together the 60cm high raised garden bed onto weed control matting.

To finish the area, a timber surround was installed on the ground to enclose the pebbles and the old trellising on the fence was replaced with some stainless steel trellis wiring ready for Gen’s new passionfruit vine.

The finished garden bed at Norwood.

We returned a week later to finish off the work down the driveway, digging deep holes between the pavers and installing lines of trellis wiring so that Gen can plant some fruit trees and espalier them across the walls.

New trellis lines and inground irrigation tubes ready for espalier trees.

Passionate gardeners, Gen and Roberto will plant out and maintain the new veggie garden and trees themselves but I think they will have to keep a watchful eye on the local ducks who were entertaining us with their antics in and around the swimming pool.  


Good luck and happy gardening!


Filling beds at Medindie

Deb and Geoff had already excavated the ‘bad’ soil from the long garden beds along their fenceline before they called us. Geoff cleverly installed some trellising along the fence himself, so all we had to do was to fill the garden beds plus a few giant planter pots on the two verandahs with our beautiful soil.

With only a small access gate, the soil had to be dropped on the footpath in front of their garage and we would wheelbarrow it along a path around to the back yard. Showery weather forced us to reschedule the job a few times - traipsing mud through Deb’s garage and pathways had to be avoided at all costs.

A day came with intermittent light showers forecast, and when we arrived, black clouds threatened to the north and the south, so it was all systems go!

Sally drilled a series of holes into the concrete base of the beds to help with drainage.

With two wheelbarrows running back and forth, we completed filling the beds and pots with the 3 tones of soil within a couple of hours.

Deb is very excited that her beds are ready for planting now.

Enjoy establishing your garden Deb!

Before filling the L shaped bed After: ready for growing plants in nutrient rich soil

Making exceptional soil


Here at Vital Veggies we are passionate about soil. 15 years of research and experimentation have gone into our special biodynamic blend. Watching how quickly plants grow in our soil and how vibrant and healthy they are surprises our clients and brings us great joy.

During winter, a couple of new ingredients were added to our latest batch and the resulting soil turned out to be way beyond exceptional. Wide-eyed, we couldn’t stop running our hands through it!!!

Light to touch, rich and dark in colour, warm, friable, and just gorgeous to handle.  We were astonished to discover that soil can have ‘a mysterious quality’ that is beyond words.

Roger hand-stirring biodynamic preparations before adding them to the soil heaps.

It looks like Roger is waving a magic wand over the soil, but he actually has a container of biodynamic preparation on his back and is spraying the soil heap with it.

Vital Veggies super soil delivered to one of our clients.

Winter gardens


Winter was cold this year and we noticed a lot more stress on plants, especially in the younger food gardens that we service. Observing how the different gardens performed under stress has been fascinating.

The mature food gardens, established prior to 2015, have had over 18 months of regular feeding with biodynamic preparations, seasonal application of biodynamic compost and the very best care we can provide. They are now cruising through the cold wet winters and the hot, dry summers.

These gardens have flourished this winter!


Here are some images of our winter gardens:

A healthy bed of spinach and silverbeet.

Cos lettuce and rocket plants mid winter.

This was only half the harvest of sweet potatoes we dug up from a garden in July!

Bok choy thriving, even after a little snail damage to the early leaves.

Pruning berries: secateurs OUT…hedge trimmer IN

Winter is prime time to prune berry canes and this year Roger invested in a new battery operated hedge trimmer (a boy-toy) to make the job much quicker and easier than in previous years.

Now you see it…

Now you don’t.

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