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My Great Outdoors: Marcus & Jenny’s Veggie Garden

published Jun 23, 2009
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Marcus & Jenny Butler
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Type of space: Vegetable Garden

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: We’re in the middle of winter now so our veggie garden looks a little dormant [even though we planted a full crop of winter veg over 6 weeks ago]. Despite this we still pick fresh herbs from it close to every day. The pleasure we get from growing vegetables from seed, nurturing it, watching the produce grow, before picking them and cooking with them is close to indescribable.

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

How did you create it? Our two veggie plots are located in what used to be a parking space for the previous owners caravan—two strips of brick pavers. First we took out one row of brick pavers from the inside of each strip. The border for the garden beds is made out of old terracotta pipes that we bought from an op-shop [previously they were someone’s wine cellar]. We dug down a third of the length of the pipes before bedding them into the soil. For a good couple of months we composted directly into the beds, turning the soil at least once a week. We also added lawn clippings and other garden waste, as well as document shreddings from my office and wood shavings from my husbands work.

With each crop we grow we let some of it go to seed so we can harvest it for next season. As a result we also end up with very unexpected things growing both in and around our veggie plots. Not only do we currently have lettuce and coriander growing between our pavers – but a keen eye could also spot carrots, not to mention marigolds still seeding from last spring [September in Aus.].

Over time we’ve added more and more herbs to the terracotta pipes, as well as strawberry plants and annual flowers. In between the pipes and pavers we’ve scattered different rockery plants which are watered solely from any run-off of the garden.

Partly due to our own guilt, but largely due to our intent of procuring a puppy a little later this year – we’ve made a conscious effort not to use any pesticides in this garden, especially snail bait. As a result we’ve kept a couple of the pipes empty so that we could use them for our own natural pest traps. Into the empty pipes we place recycled cans [that have had some handles added] and fill them with beer. Snails and slugs LOVE beer. Sadly for them they can’t handle their booze and drown in it, before being added to one of our compost bins!

Recommended store, site, product or resource? We bought the terracotta pipes from the local op shop for $1 a piece. Most of the vegetables and herbs were grown either as seedlings bought from local farmers markets [or gifted from other friendly gardeners] or from seeds bought online.