Chapter 10
Crop Circles  

If you took an aerial photograph of our house and land you might be mistaken for thinking the aliens have landed and left their mark.  There are six perfect circles about an metre and a half in diameter in a pattern somewhat resembling the Olympic Rings in our garden.  These Crop Circles are a combination of my idea of recycling rubbish left behind by the codger who owned the place before us and my desire to have some raised garden beds in the “no mans land” near the herb garden.
Recycling is a great concept and one that most of us don’t think about often enough.  I think that “reuse” is a long lost art.  Remember the days when pickles and chutneys were home made and stored in oven sterilized jam jars adorned with little dolly caps of pinked gingham.  Paper shopping bags made great masks for children or were reused to hold garbage and newspapers were cut and folded to house the peelings of the potatoes, bean ends and pea pods before they went into the bin.
Some recycling however costs more than it saves and here is one such story…
I wish I had a picture of it, the great grey cylinder of concrete (about 1.5m in diametre and three metres in length) that was once part of a water pipe and was just left, dumped, in our back yard (far enough away that we didnt have to look at it every day).  The artist in me had thoughts of a mosaic sculpture of a face with great orange aggie pipe hair coming out of the top.  So the first time our mate Ian came around to clear some land for us with his excavator and bob cat, we had him lift it onto one end.  It stayed that way for the best part of a year and a half.
Next I priced some of the terrific raised garden beds that were out there in Bunnings and on the net.  Way too expensive for the budget (or lack of one) that I had.  Treated sleepers were taboo because the copper oxide could leach into the soil and eventually be taken up into the vegetables (particularly root crops) and ingested.  Untreated sleepers would eventually succumb to white ants and help to bring them closer to the house which wasn’t a great idea.  Plastic sleepers were again too expensive.  No old water tanks lying around to be ground into several circular sections… but it did give me an idea about what to do with the water pipe.  
So I called a couple of concrete cutters and got some prices.  To make five pieces was going to cost about $250 cash.  Five garden beds for $250, which wouldn’t deteriorate or poison us, sounded like good value to me!  About a week later the guy came and cut them after I had marked them as best I could with a line for him to follow.
 We envisaged that once in sections and lying on the ground we could lift one edge and roll them onto the trailer and one by one bring them up to the herb garden and roll them into place.  We had NO IDEA how heavy reinforced concrete was, even in sections.  The smallest one Benny couldn’t even budge, let alone get it onto its side, and he is very strong!  So we thought we would call up our mate Ian again and thankfully with our special “mates rate” it wouldn’t cost much more to get the crop circles put into place.  The problem with this thinking is Brent.  Once he has a bobcat and excavator on the property he never wants to let them go.  So $300 later… we have lots of lovely cleared and tidy space and the circles are in place.  
Weeks went by and I eventually had some time to start filling the beds.  I had decided I wanted to go the way of the “no dig” garden and had in the shed enough left over mulch and organic potting mix to give the first one a go.  I piled in the newspaper (not nearly enough to suppress the weeds) and the mulch and then thought about the water supply.  Talk about cart before the horse!.  Benny loves to put in sprinkler systems.  He has done this in various homes both ours and other peoples and will sit back and watch his handwork regularly spring to life.  So off to Bunnings we go hi ho hi ho.  Poly pipe, risers, sprinkler heads, filter, dual tap controller, timer etc. 
Anyhow you get the message.  Then with seedings and more organic potting mix and the next five circles worth of mulch our garden beds are coming along nicely.  Have we harvested enough produce to reclaim our $800?  Not yet, probably not ever, but I love looking out from my work space at all our vegies growing and most weekends there are sufficient variety to make an otherwise ordinary omelet quite special.  Benny turns the sprinklers on most mornings and marvels at the symmetry of the water spray. 
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