the raised bed
When I came here last year, I was able to forage 4 good strong pallets, the kind that they use to carry concrete blocks. One advantage to living in a city in the midst of a rebuild is the marvellous scope for foraging. These pallets are quite big and I had thought of sawing them down to a smaller size but when I stood them up I realised that gardening at this height is very comfortable, no bending required. So I dug a trench to stand them in, roughly nailed them together (carpentry is totally not my thing) and although everything seemed very stable, I did tie them together as well. Just to make sure, you know.
Then it was time to fill. I can't remember what I started out with but I think I threw in a lot of tree prunings, very rough uncomposted compost, (basically anything I could find really, and topped it off with bought compost from The Warehouse or Bunnings or somewhere.
So that was last year, and a complete experiment, and I grew peppers, lettuces (several times over) prostrate cherry tomatoes falling from the top, leeks, silver beet, spinach, and also ordinary sized tomatoes growing up the side. The curly parsley I planted beside the tomatoes has continued to grow as you can see. Sweet Pea and Nasturtium also tumbled down the side and there is also thyme still growing, prostate rosemary, and a flowering succulent I thought would look pretty. All these things grew really well and the cherry tomatoes actually kept producing heaps of tomatoes right into June!! (winter in NZ).
I found kale did not like the raised bed at all; it just sat in the soil refusing to grow. As soon as I moved the kale into my down-on-the-ground vegetable garden, the kale took off!
I have let the raised rest since last summer. Now it is spring and my own first "cooked" compost is looking awesomely rich (dare I say beautiful even). Ingredients, tree prunings, leftover kitchen scraps, grass clippings, comfrey, seaweed (so cool living next to the beach), coffee grinds, tea bags even, basically anything organic that will break down).
'cooked' compost in raised bed