This is what my back garden looked like in April, when I had just moved in.
Within a fortnight I had marked out the site for the first vegie garden, and began piling moving cartons onto the weeds.
All done. I had to hold them down with bricks as I hadn't bought any pea straw yet. Cardboard is brilliant for suppressing weeds. You need at least two layers, so flattened cartons are perfect. Make sure they overlap generously. Don't worry about tape or stickers - as the cardboard biodegrades, it is very easy to pull the remaining tape up and bin it.
This is the second vegie garden, which will receive full sun. It is the same view as the photo at the top of the post, four months later. I waste far too much time gazing fondly at my lovely retaining wall.
This is what it looked like last week, complete with a crop of giant green weeds. I squash them down by stamping on them with my gum boots, and then again, the cardboard carton and pea straw treatment. This time I had run out of boxes, so I popped down to a gift store a couple of blocks down the hill, and the toy store around the corner and asked for cardboard boxes, which they were delighted to give to me.
This garden I do not plan to dig over - I will give it a few weeks then plant seedlings straight into holes poked in the cardboard. This works well for big sturdy plants like tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, cucumber etc. I may dig out a trench to plant bean seeds into. It is also an effective way to plant potatoes.
Remember the space behind the retaining wall? I filled it with gravel, then rubble, then soil from a large pile probably dumped in the garden during renovations done by the previous owners. When I left my old place I cleared out the old compost bins (to bring with me, of course!) and also (of course!) saved the compost, transferring it into big bin bags and old seed sacks. It has been sitting in my garden all winter, and yesterday I used it to add a layer of nutritious goodness to the top of this garden bed. Then I popped down to my local garden centre, which makes its own compost out of green waste and whey from a local dairy. It is amazingly potent stuff, and I added a layer of that as well.
Now I have a herb garden, which should receive many hours of sun each day in the warmer months. The herbs are currently very small, having overwintered in the pots I brought from the old house. So far I have French tarragon, echinacea and sage. I also have some thyme sprigs from a friend, and Benson the helpful puppy has kindly aerated the whole bed for me with his paws and ever hopeful nose.
When I designed the retaining wall I accidentally forgot to design a side wall as well. Oops. Can't be expected to remember everything. So I used lengths of log left for firewood when I had some trees cut down. I am calling it rustic..
I am so excited to have 'nearly gardens' which will soon be ready for spring planting. Spring! Gardens! Only the most thrilling words in the English language!