A huge part of being self-sufficient is growing our own veges. We are really lucky in New Zealand to have an extremely mild climate, however we do still get a few frosty mornings during winter. I'm still doing a lot of learning about vege gardening but we had a pretty successful summer garden and I caught the gardening bug...bad!
Last summer we planted punnets of veges which was great, but of course the next step was always going to be planting from seed. I bought some propagators, a bag of seedling mix and a few packets of seeds and gave it a go - and it worked! I ended up with all sorts of seedlings that I ambitiously planted in the garden in May. It would have gone ok albeit rather slowly if the pigs hadn't decided that they were lunch.
Josh and I had decided a couple of months earlier that we really wanted to be able to grow veges all year round, so after a bit of research we purchased a polytunnel. I didn't even know these existed but once I had seen one, I knew that was what we needed. A polytunnel is similar to a greenhouse, but as the name suggests it is a tunnel shape and covered in polythene, giving you a large space to garden that maintains a much warmer temperature than outdoors. Ours is 6m long, 3m wide and 2m tall - even Josh can stand up in it!
The assembly was reasonably straightforward...
...and while I thought we would opt for just digging up the ground Josh had other ideas and I came home from work to find this beautiful construction!
It only took 5 of us to move it into the tunnel (no big deal!) and once it was in, about 50 wheelbarrow loads of topsoil to fill the beds. All in a days work! We put weedmat down under the soil - I'm ever hopeful that I won't have to weed the garden but I think I'm dreaming - and Josh also put a layer of grass clippings and leaves down for a bit of a reverse composting. On top of the soil we put a few bags of compost (store bought...terrible I know, but our compost pile is still a work in progress!)
A few of the seedlings that I had planted a couple of weeks earlier were ready to be transplanted so I put them in and the polytunnel was starting to look pretty good. A few paving stones, some gravel and 9 strawberry plants taken from last years crop in and we were ready to go. I'm hoping that we will have a bumper crop and that we may even be able to get a head start on tomatoes and capsicums given that on a sunny day in July it felt like summer in there!
There is still plenty more room in the garden beds (although I don't think I'll struggle to fill it) and with the arrival of the new Kings Seeds catalogue I've got a busy few weeks ahead of me!