A pre-planting shopping trip

Thursday 5 November. We’d been back from our week’s vacation down the coast for a day or so. It was time. The vegetable garden bed lay out there, begging to be planted with healthy and life-giving produce.

But first, of course, it would be nice to have some produce to plant in it. One of our neighbours had given me a range of different tomato seeds some weeks back, but unfortunately none of them were quite what I wanted to use in this initial planting. (I know from past experience that in the subtropics cherry tomatoes tend to be the most resistant to bug attack, and none of the donations were of cherry tomatoes.)

I actually spent a large chunk of yesterday on the web, some half-formed ideas in my head about what I wanted to grow. By late afternoon I’d come up with the following list of plants I was pretty sure would grow in the local conditions:

  • Sweet corn – it used to grow okay down in the Lindum gardens, and I love the stuff, so let’s have another go…!
  • Cherry tomatoes – tied to stakes or a trellis to minimise the space required;
  • Climbing beans – again, can be trellised to keep their space requirements down – I once was not a bean fan at all, but have gradually changed to a position of bemused tolerance over the decades;
  • Lebanese cucumber – AnnMaree at some point evinced an interest in these – I can’t stand any cucumbers personally;
  • Carrots – we both like carrots, and they’re usually easy to grow;
  • Beetroot – another one for AM – I hate the evil, stainy things;
  • Chillies – because I never had much success growing them back in the day, and I ain’t going to let a mere plant beat me!

Hmm. Seven kinds of vegetables. Seemed like a lot to fit into about 5 square metres of garden. At least without some careful organisation. Especially knowing how much space sweet corn alone takes up – greedy, bloody, nutrient hogging critters that they are.

What it all meant was, first, getting on the PC and checking for information about how far apart the various vegetables would have to be planted to give each the optimum growing conditions, and composing a diagram of the garden bed to make sure everything would fit in. Only then could I do up a tally of the seedlings, seed packets and ancillary equipment (such as trellis making materials) needed. And finally I could take my you-beaut list off to the nearest Bunnings Warehouse garden store, which happens to be at Mount Gravatt, a 10-minute drive away.

Diagram

Diagram showing the original conception of how the different plants would be laid out

Diagram showing the original conception of how the different plants would be laid out

Never having had (or been prepared to afford) Microsoft Office on my home PC, I turned to faithful OpenOffice. Its word processing module did me proud, too. In fact, before long I realised I just had to do my diagram in full colour. (This meant I ended up having to re-do it in monochrome for later, when it was time to print out a copy to take down the back yard.) And it meant I knew with all possible confidence that the desired plants would fit in the bed.

Tally

The end tally which became my Bunnings shopping list was something like the following:

  • Beans, Climbing – Seeds
  • Carrots – Seeds
  • Corn, Sweet – Seeds
  • Cucumbers, Lebanese – Seeds
  • Chillies – Seedlings, at least 9
  • Beetroot – Seedlings, at least 6
  • Tomatoes, Cherry – Seedlings, at least 6
  • Wooden stakes –
    • At least 6, each at least 5-6 feet long – to bear trellises
    • At least 4, each at least 3-4 feet long – to stake the chillies
  • Trellis – 3 lengths, each about 1m long and 1m+ tall – for climbing beans, cherry tomatoes, & Lebanese cucumbers
  • Chicken wire – to protect plants from possums & cats – more than 10m
  • Wire, thick – to build the frame to drape the chicken wire over – 1 coil longer than 15m
  • Compost bin – just on spec. Will have to introduce composting at some point.
  • Worm farm – ditto. AM’s idea – to help the composting process, I believe.
  • Latch – for latching back the garage door. Well, while in Bunnings…

Bit of a ring-in, the last few items. Oh well, if the available products looked okay and the prices were right, why not? And if they weren’t, they’d keep for another week or 5.

At Bunnings

And, well, after spending over an hour wandering the Bunnings garden section here’s what I ended up actually buying:

  • Beans, Climbing – 1 packet of seeds
  • Carrots – 1 packet of seeds
  • Corn, Sweet – Seedlings, 6
  • Cucumbers, Lebanese – Seedlings, 4
  • Chillies – Seedlings, 8
  • Beetroot – 1 packet of seeds
  • Tomatoes, Cherry – Seedlings, 4
  • Wooden stakes –
    • 6, each perhaps 2/3 of a metre long – to stake whatever needed staking
    • 6, each a little over 1m long – to bear the trellises
  • Plastic covered wire mesh – 1.2m high and 5m long, to cut up into 1m lengths for use as trellises for the climbing beans, cherry tomatoes, Lebanese cucumbers
  • Bird wire – to protect plants from possums and cats – a 10m roll
  • Wire, thick – to build the frame to drape the chicken wire over – a 15m coil

Funny how you adapt as you go along – especially when you see the prices of certain things, such as readymade trellises.

By the time I got home from the gardening store it was later afternoon and I realised I wasn’t going to be able to start planting today. So inside the downstairs back door went my newly gotten goodies and then I thankfully retired upstairs to a cold beer, resolved to do all the planting on the next day.

(Oh, and that evening AnnMaree, myself and my best mate “O” headed up to the trivia competition the Holland Park Hotel. It was the fourth time we’d gone along, but the first time we managed to win it. The prize? A $50 voucher to use in the pub’s restaurant, which is actually a rather good eatery now, following a recent revamp. So that was a pretty grand ending to the day.)

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