Way back in 2009 starting fruit and veg growing was a priority. The area which got the most sun, and therefore was (as the gardening books told me) the best area for a veg patch, was to the side of the house.
The area chosen was between the ugly tree and the garage driveway in the above picture. I chose this space because of the plentiful sunlight, and because this is where one of two outdoor taps was located, figuring this would make for easy watering.
When I first moved in it was a barren area of fairly crappy grass and lots of weeds. My plan from the start was raised beds. Mostly because I thought they looked better and were less muddy than a standard veg patch of soil. I also thought crop rotation would be easier with a designated bed system (see here for post how I rotate crops).
So I bought wood sleepers at the local big warehouse hardware store to build 8 beds. Each bed was 2.4m long (as that was the longest I could get home in my car, but putting all the seats down. I'm sure all the staff thought I was a crazy lady. Which I guess is true.) and 0.8m wide, with a 0.8m gap between beds.
Thus it looked like this in around 2010.
That's one of the things I love about veg gardens; they happen so quickly. Plant a fruit tree and it can take years to grow and fruit. Plant a veg patch and weeks or months later you're reaping the rewards.
In early 2011 when I gravelled the backyard I also gravelled the grass between the beds. This was much easier to maintain than trying to mow between beds and then needing to either whippersnipper or hand trim the grass close to the beds which the mower couldn't reach.
Then in 2012 I extended the veg patch beds. I had realised that I didn't need anywhere near 0.8m between beds to get the wheelbarrow between and for enough room to garden and harvest.
So I made them 50% bigger with a 1.2m wide bed and 0.4m space between.
Much better. I find I can still access the beds easily as they aren't too wide to get to the middle, but I get a lot more in the beds.
Since then they have stayed very much as is. The only problem I have is they do dry out more quickly than I would like. The extreme heat of the summer in Australia (remember the 4 days over 40 degrees C anyone?)is a challenge and I find this area gets perhaps too much sun.
This season just gone I experimented with some shadecloth, which I think I will repeat next summer. But I have been thinking perhaps it is time to try another strategy.
This may well be an ongoing tale, with the potential plan (just need to work out the details) to change these to wicking beds.