My Garden She Shed

I had never thought much about having a garden shed, specially for me . I suppose that growing up it was always the Dads that had garden sheds full of tools and things so I was conditioned to think that it was a “man thing” to have a shed. What started to make me re think this was a combination of my Pinterest addiction and sheer frustration of not having a proper home for my garden things. I was seeing these amazing “She Shed” trend as well as Pot Sheds in Pinterest. So I said to Pete….”Hey Babe do you think you could make me a wee garden shed?” “Sure thing” he said… Now I have an amazing shed and I totally love it. I love it so much that I thought I’d share how we (Pete) built it, and how I organised it.

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how we Designed it

To figure out what sort of shed would be best, I needed to be clear on how I wanted to use it . The purpose of the shed was to house all my garden things that I use, tools, pot, feed, sprays etc. Obviously it needed to be handy to the garden so I could access it easily. Additionally I needed the design to be one where I could open the shed and have everything at easy reach from the door.

We had the perfect position for the Shed (albeit needing to get rid of a big old Daphne bush) which dictated the size of the shed . It could not be too large at all, which actually gave us the opportunity to get creative with the plans.

Pete was is charge of the build and in some way the design too, I helped by checking out online Timber Sheds and came across these which were exactly what I wanted. Pete then took the basic design and worked out a plan for our Shed.

A shed that pete Built

Have you heard the term “over engineered”? well that’s how Pete described our shed…in short it’s the place I’m going if we have a tornado. The best way to show the build is in this pictorial and the explanations of each stage.

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Stage 1

Cement in the foundation posts and frame up the floor

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Stage 2

Flooring down, Frame work up for the sides, wall lining and bracing in.

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Stage 3

Putting in the shelving

TIP: Pre stain/paint makes life a lot easier. This stain is just left over from the decking stain , Resene Kwila Timber stain

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Stage 4

Putting up the external cladding, with Plywood panels

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Stage 5

Roof and tiling. We used Asphalt Shingle roofing tiles for the Shed.

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Stage 6

Final touches, staining to match the house

We used Resene Woodsman stain in Pitch Black

Now most of you know that there is actually alot more to it than those pictures show, so if you are interested in wanting more details on the building of the Shed, Pete has kindly documented out all the measurements and materials and I’ve developed it into a guide with plans on how to build the Shed.

To access the guide just pop your details below to receive your very own copy

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    Shed Organisation

    Now the fun begins! Build done and it’s my time to get my organising socks on!

    I had vision of drawing outlines of my garden tools onto the walls, yip that was a thing, back when I was a nipper, the neighbourhood Dads used to have their tools on the peg board wall at the end of their garage. They would have the shapes of the tools outlined on the peg board just in case they forgot which tool went where. I always thought it was a bit weird until I grew up and became an organising expert.

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    The best part of the shed is the back wall which Pete carefully designed to hold all my garden tools. He even wrote the names of each tool so I knew where to return them. By just putting up a few well placed nails I had all my tools lined up and they remain perfectly organised. 

    On both sides of the shed, Pete installed simple shelves, On these shelves I have my most common reached for items because it’s the easiest to access area in the Shed. All my garden feeders are corralled into a carry all basket so I can pick it up easily and take it outside. I tend to do all the “feeding” at the same time as I mix them with water into the feeding can (on old watering can). This is really helpful over the spring and summer season as you do need to feed regularly to have a healthy crop.

    Garden Shed containers on shelf.png

    On the other side are all my sprays, manly for insects and spiders and other wee creepies. Hint don’t spray into cobwebs directly above your head , you never know what might be waiting in hiding in the cobwebs. I do have to be careful not to muddle up weedkiller with Organic Oil spray so I make sure that I label everything, on lids and the sides. Under the shelves I have all my large spray containers that I use to disperse the sprays. These are again well labelled so I know not to put the wrong sprays into them. Also I have all my weed and pest control spray containers on one side and the liquid organic sprays on the other. I just put up nails which I then place the sprays guns on, so this keeps them well contained and the guns have somewhere to hang. You will notice in the photo that I have used the space in between the frame work for storage. These are awkward items to store, so I thought by just criss-crossing the wall with bungie cord I could manage to have these items stored vertically and not take up too much room. Never forget to use your vertical space if you are tight for room.

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    On the other side of the shed I managed to create more shelving with these amazing boxes which I scored from Junk & Disorderly for only $12 each, a total find!!! One holds all my pot plants (indoor) stuff, pots and such like. In the other box are the soil and lawn fertilisers .

    Garden Shed boxes used as shelves.png

    Between the top of the boxes and the shelf there is the perfect space for the bag of pea-straw. I always a have a bag on hand and it’s the perfect spot.

    On top of the shelf I have a couple small baskets that once upon a time were plant baskets. I just use them for storage now.

    One I put my “hand cleaning” stuff in. Often when I am in the shed, I have very dirty hands from the garden so having hand wipes and disinfectant handy is great. I also have a pile of towels I use for two purposes, drying my hands and cleaning off my garden tools. In the other one I have some bits and pieces that I use in the garden, like garden ties etc. In the corner I use a old broken jug to store my pruning tools.

    Garden Shed cleaning kit.png
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    Now a little awesome idea I had, has turned into my mini garden office!!! The back of the shed door was unused space so I painted it with black chalk paint, and along with a wall magazine rack which I scored at the local hospice shop for $4 , I now have all my books, garden diary and notes on hard. The blackboard is handy to write notes to myself, like when I’ve feed and sprayed and things I need to do next!!. This is great use of vertical space.

    Garden Shed office on the door.png

    Another wee genius ideas of mine was my garden toolkit. It was actually a spare tool kit Pete had (he’s a Tradie) which he wasn’t using. It just seemed to be the perfect size for me. I carry all my essentials in it so I always have these with me when in the garden. I just love it and it has a handy wee trick where you can slide the kit itself along the belt so when bending down it sits on my back and doesn’t get in the way.

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    And finally the coolest thing of all , is this little seat on the side of my shed which Pete made for me, man he’s thoughtful. It’s where I sit and clean down all my tools at the end of my garden session. Yes I am one of those who looks after her garden tools, always making sure they are cleaned, sharpened and oiled. It is amazing how long things last when you look after them. My loppers, secateurs and hedge trimmers were given to Pete and I when we got our first house, which would be over 25 years ago!

    Garden Shed seat for cleaning tools.png

    Having my own garden shed is fantastic and it’s such a great design and so practical , I just love it.

    Don’t forget to grab the Guide and Plans, above if you are interested in building the shed. Feel free to ask any questions, we are happy to help.

    Also , as always I’ll love your feedback and do share your ideas and thoughts

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    Happy Tidying and Gardening!

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    How I created my dream Potager garden

    To be fair it was my husband that actually created my dream Potager garden, I just planned it and gave a helping hand, like shifting 3 square metres of compost into the garden.  However I still can`t believe that I am finally starting to plant out my beautiful new Potager garden. Since moving into our home 5 years ago I have been running a large vegetable garden for the family, essentially three large garden beds. They were not ideal to work in as they were on a sloping site and at ground level. Becoming  empty nesters meant that we didn't need the as much vegetable garden, so I thought this is the perfect opportunity for me to finally get my Potager garden...OMG so excited as I've always wanted one.

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    The Design

    Good things do take time! It was important to me to take my time to design and plan this out properly, thinking about how I want to use the garden in the future. I shared my thinkings, design and plans for my Potager garden in a previous post which you can access here

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    Designing is certainly the fun part....oh I'll put that there and have that over there ...ohh beautiful...then you have to actually work out how to make it happen and that's the hard part , the planning stage.  The thing I love and hate about planning is the reality of what you actually need to do to achieve the goal. The time and cost it will take and therefore the changes that you may need to do because of finance or design constraints!. 

    The Plan

    For us the planning started with me handing Pete the design and saying....hey Baby can you build this for me ...pretty please!. Bless him as he said yes, but with my help of course. So I sat down and planned out what we needed to do.  A long list evolved from that as below;

    • Plan out the new beds in the existing garden
    • Calculate the measurements needed for the wood
    • Work out the lengths, size, type and quantity of wood 
    • Purchase and pick up of the wood
    • Building of the raised garden beds - over two weekends with clear weather
    • Create and fill the two garden paths
    • Purchase and pick up compost mix for the garden beds
    • Fill the beds with the compost mix
    • Finalise the planting plan
    • Purchase of plants
    • Planting out the beds
    • Sit back and relax

    We had a budget of $2000 which we had to stick to.

    the build

    The measurement and working out the actual foot print of the beds was not difficult, but did take a bit of "arranging" as each one of the beds had slightly different lengths and measurements. 

    We purchased the wood from the local Mitre 10, cost came out at $900 all up. It was a lot of wood and it's all H4-5 as it needs to be treated for outdoors so it does not rot. Word of warning that means it's heavy!. 

    The biggest challenge was getting a break in the weather. The spring in Auckland has been, well, rubbish!!!  so the actual construction took place over about 3 weekends. I recall at one stage Pete trying to skill saw between rain showers and hoping not to electrocute himself.

    Once that massive job was completed we wheelbarrowed 3 cubic square meters of compost, super rich organic vege compost from our local, Central Landscape & Garden Supplies around to the actual beds. This was backbreaking and expensive ($500). I was hoping that I could fill the beds up with my home made compost but there was no way that I could make that much compost!!!!  I was pretty naive about that aspect of the job.

    The key improvement for me in the new garden was to have paths in between the beds and also have a frame on the top edges. This meant that I can have much easier access to the gardens and actually sit comfortably on the edge and attend to the garden...this really helps to prevent the old "garden back pain". To avoid having more lawns to cut we used the left over white chip from the East garden landscaping job for the paths in between the beds. I have to say I am in love with these paths and it's great that they connect to the upper garden.

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    The Planting

    Whoop, Whoop the fun part!. I now have four lovely new garden beds.  In the true style of a  Potager garden I planned the planting to ensure that I achieved good companion planting so I could reduce the use of pest control and improve my crops. There are really good resources on companion planting, however it can be a bit overwhelming. So what I did was list out the vegtable crops that I knew we wanted to plant now and then slowly worked through the guides on what are the best companion plants for each. My main resource for this was my new book Companion Planting in New Zealand by Brenda Little.  This book really helped me to plan out each garden bed. 

    The Berry Patch

    Blueberries, Boysenberries and Raspberries

    The Strawberry Patch

    I moved all my strawberry plants from the wee garden that they were in into their very own patch. I have companion planted Borage for the bees and Sage for the berries. 

    The Lettuce Bed

    A mix of spinach, cos , red and green leaf lettuce and Lebanese cucumber, surrounded by marigolds. Coriander herb planted in the corner.

    The Potato Patch

    My all time favourite Jersey Bennies , sweet peas, beans, capsicums , and zucchini. Nasturtiums to border them.

    The Corn Fields

    Sweetcorn, tomatoes, carrots, spring onions with basil companioned to the tomatoes and borders of marigolds. 

    To do

    https://home.howstuffworks.com/staking-vegetables.htm

    https://home.howstuffworks.com/staking-vegetables.htm

    Poor Pete still has a couple of build jobs to do, build permanent staking for the tomatoes and berry patch, similar to the illustration.  

    My to do list includes adding in more herbs into the garden, mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme. These are mainly for companion planting purposes. Herbs for cooking I grow in pots in the kitchen..that's another post for another day. Did you know that Basil is a great herb to have in the house to help keep flies away?

    Developing more permanent hedging in the garden beds is longer term goal. Ideally I want to have a combination of lavender and Buxus or Mock Box. 

    I am so going to enjoy this spring and summer season in my new Potager garden...I just hope that the weather improves so I can actually get out into it without being rained on.

    On a closing note I came across this planting journal for $7 at our local Warehouse Stationery store and I will be trying this out to help track my plantings and growth. I have always done this in my own ratty journal but thought hey why not have a pretty one! 

    Now I think Pete and I will have a wee sit down and just admire all our hard work.

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    Take care my friends and enjoy your gardens

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    Planning my Potager garden

    Pronounced  'Pot-Ah-jay', this french term basically means "Kitchen garden" and was seen in Monastery gardens as far back as the 1500's.  The vegetable beds are essentially laid out in a way that the produce is grown and easily accessible from the kitchen by the cook. In more modern times there are Chefs kitchens still used in large estates and some restaurants. For those keen vegetable gardeners, like myself, it is a way to have a more ornamental vegetable garden, mixing veges, flowers, fruits and herbs.

    Reference: Photo by Gil Hanly from the book New Zealand Potager The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Author Diana Anthony

    Reference: Photo by Gil Hanly from the book New Zealand Potager The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Author Diana Anthony

    I was in one of my favourite Hospice shops late last year and came upon a book on Potager gardens, it was all of $3. At the time I was starting to think about what I was going to do with my large vegetable garden. As empty nesters, overproduction in my vegetable garden was becoming a norm and there is only so much you can give away to your neighbours.  It was this book, and that absolutely stunning cover picture,  that sparked my idea of downsizing my vegetable garden into a Potager garden. 

    Fast forward 6 months and one major landscaping project nearly finished, I have Pete out in the vege patch measuring up and redesigning the new Potager garden....excited oh yes just a little!! 

    So here is what I am thinking, of course with some, as always sensible, reality check suggestions from Pete.

    Our Current Garden

    At present we have three garden beds. Two are large, one being the original garden bed and one that Pete and Chris rotary hoed up for me about 4 years ago. The third is actually a small raised bed which I just grow lettuce and spinach in.

    On the east side of the garden, along the fence line, I have a grapevine and a patch of strawberries.

    Our current needs

    As newly empty nesters, we are discovering the needs of a two person household are certainly different from a four person household. In terms of the vegetable patch this has seen a big reduction in the amount and type of produce that needs to be grown. 

    To help in the layout of the new Potager garden, I thought about what changes I wanted to make to the gardens in terms of production and use, such as the veges, herbs, flowers and fruit.

    Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, sweet peas, beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, spring onions, chillis, asparagus, potatoes, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage were the main vegetables still to be produced.

    Additional to the usual vegetables, I want to expand the berry patch. I have already got some blueberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, however I want to increase production.

    I also did a lot of research looking on companion planting as I wanted to improve the use of other helpful plants to reduce pest in the garden and introduce more herbs and flowers.  Annabel Langbein, who is awesome, has a great blog on vegetable gardening and provides information on companion planting. There is also some great guides that you can download from various gardening blogs on this topic, such as this one from Tui  

    Layout and structure

    At this point I thought about the layout of the garden and how I could redesign it in the Potager style. As I am reducing the crop production, I can take space out of the existing beds, which I thought I would turn into paths. 

    One of the biggest issues I have currently with the garden beds is that they are on a slope. Apart from a mowing strip there is no frame around the beds to keep the soil in. It's a pain really, especially on the downward slope of the beds. It seemed to perfect opportunity to fix this by making the beds into raised gardens...poor Mr P he was not that impressed when I mentioned that. Ideally I wanted the frames to be made of railway sleepers...but budget brought me back to reality so just the usual timber frames will have to do.

    The plan 

    The two large beds will be split into four by creating a path through the middle of each of them. The third bed, which is the only raised garden bed I have, will remain. 

    So all in all there will be 5 small raised garden beds and it will look like this;

    The new beds will be framed up as raised gardens and level...yeah so much easier for my gardening. The paths will be created by removing that section of the garden. The existing dirt will be used to build up the new garden beds, so I will not lose too much good soil. 

    Also look to build more permanent wooden structures for the plants, like the A-frame, Teepee and Flat Trellis.

    For the paths, we have leftover white stone chip from the east side garden landscaping, so will use that to lay out the paths. 

    There you have it folks, the plans for my Potager garden, easy as that !!! well now all we have to do is to make it!

    What do you think?  Any suggestions?  I would love to hear from you , leave comments below. 

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    How to prepare the seasonal vegetable garden


    My very first vegetable garden was as a teenager …a long time ago. I had a little piece of dirt near the bike shed. I recall the poor quality of the dirt and the frustration with my limitations with access to good compost. However I did manage to produce a lot of raddish's and rhubarb. The raddish's were sweet, hot and yummy and the rhubarb got turned into fruit crumble with lots of sugar and cream to dull the tart taste.

    Forward several years, actually decades and I'm still at it and still loving getting my fingers in the dirt.

    It is spring here in New Zealand and I am just in the middle of getting my spring and summer vegetable garden planned and prepared. I love this time of year, fresh blossom scents in the air, followed by sneezing fits, dam the pollen.

    Vege garden

    2015/16 Summer Vege Garden

    I thought that I would take you through how I prepare for each season. It is very much the same process, just different crops depending on the season.

    Planning

    It all starts with my notebook, it's my garden bible. In my notebook I write everything down about my garden, what I planted, where I planted, when I planted, quality of the crop, health issues, weather, everything that I experience in the garden for the season. 

    I do this for each season. This gives me a really good view of how my garden works and what grows well and where. As I am currently planning for my spring and summer garden I look back at last years spring/summer garden notes as reference.

    I decide, based on the success of last years crop, what I am going to plant, noting the variety to buy.

    The garden planting plan is the next step. I do rotate my crops so, again checking on where I planted last year is important.

    Once I have mapped out the planting plan, I then work out the timing.

    Timing? Ok so to work out when you want your crops to be ready you have to work backwards to figure out when to plant. Simple example of that is new potatoes and baby peas for the Christmas dinner. To be able to harvest in time for Christmas day I must have the potatoes in by early September.

    If you are not sure of the timeframes just check the information on your seed or plant packs. They normally describe how many weeks to harvest.

    Gardening
    Gardening

    Preparing

    This is where you realise that you are not garden fit, but don't worry you will be by the time you have finished. It is just a matter of hard manual labour, digging, turning soil over and composting. You can use your own compost or source some from the local garden centre. Just ensure that it is a good quality one as you don't want any bugs or foreign weeds in your patch. This is where I do a shout out for ZooDoo, yes that local zoo pooh that has been turned into rich organic matter. It's a bit smelly but pretty special.

    You must have a lovely rich soil base to grow strong healthy vegetables, so this stage is really important.

    Planting

    This is my favourite bit, as once planted I sit back and watch my babies grow. 

    You may be planting out over a couple of weeks depending on the timing of your harvest.

    I do cover my seedlings initially to protect the from the birds. Do be careful not to cover for too long as they need full light to grow well.

    I like to plant at the end of the day and water them well in the cool of the early evening.  I think this is the best time to water as it really soaks in.

    Always read the planting guide just to ensure that you are planting them out appropriately.

    As an example Corn needs to be planted in a square/block as opposed to a row.

    Vegetable garden
    Vegetable garden

    Weed, feed and water

    Growing vegetables need a lot of food and water. During the growing season I build up the soil by composting regularly.  

    I do try and be as organic as I can be with my feed and compost as I believe it makes yummy vegetables. There are some good organic options that you can source from garden centres. However I do not think you can go past good old worm juice.

    Over the years, I have noticed from my notes, that I don't get as much disease and bugs when  I have been consistent with good feed and compost.

    And lastly don't forget to water, a lot. In Auckland we are blessed with rain, however even in summer it can get a bit dry so I do water the vegetables. A couple of times a week is good if it is very dry. I always water in the early evening as its the best time for the soil to absorb the moisture.

    Vege harvest
    Vege harvest

    2015/16 first harvest of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.

    I hope that you enjoyed this post and may be you got something useful from it.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or any other aspects of  seasonal gardening that you want to know, such as composting, feeding, or crop varieties.

    Enjoy the fruits of your labour!

    Hugs and smiles

    Tania