Velvet soap

La Vergne’s pallet garden is filled and growing.

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Got it done, finally! My wife has wanted a functional proper sized raised bed pallet garden for planting in spring. I have been collecting pallets from around the area for some time and a build up of similar types was finally occurring. It is very difficult to build with different sizes, shapes and strengths so you have to wait till enough of one type accumulate.

Now that has happened her garden could happen.

First we laid out three strips of geotech over the racked ground to level the site and remove sticks and stuff that might pierce it allowing roots through from two close by eucalyptus trees. Then 12 pallets in a cross shape were laid out and leant them against each other to determine exactly where to place it in her garden space. It had to fit close to the pallet wall but not too close and still give enough room for the Japanese styled solitude garden next door.

Once in place two star post were driven in and tech screwed solid. After the initial shape was made a lining of builders plastic 500mm wide was stapled in place along the upper portion of the bed and a geotech strip again 500mm wide behind the plastic and long enough to drape over the ground forming a barrier to letting any soil under the wall.


Pallet wall and east arm of the pallet cross.


The pallet cross and south pallet wall.


Western part of her garden showing basic siting of her three tiered pond, stone pagoda and napping Buddah.

The house from where this pic was taken protects the area from driving hot summer winds and the tank and wormwood hedge with bamboo screens trap most of the damaging westerly winds we get. This spring has been the windiest in my lifetime with damaging wind one day a week at least. Our bush food planting behind the tank are yet to really establish and assist in keeping the winds down so we just have to live with it for now.


Builders plastic done with the strip of geotech next to get stapled.


Dirt in with Lachlan spreading it out and tamping down.


Finished bed with dripper system in place, plants she wanted in and alls well.

Now to tackle the earwig problem…

Earwigs are not a pest problem till they get up in numbers so much that their regular diet is depleted and they start chewing on things you would prefer they leave alone. Like cherries, young tree leaves, strawberries and even rhubarb leaves which I hope they get a gut ache from.


They leave some things totally alone but ravage others to the point of destruction, like the pot marigold on the left. They hide underneath the pots in all three in equal numbers but only eat the one plant.

 Earwigs 1




Earwigs 2

This young pear has been stripped of all new leaves, so I started an experiment with two goals.

  1. To find a way of deterring them from certain plants.
  2. To find a natural way of trapping then eradicating them.

I made a spray mix of Tabasco sauce, detergent and hot chilli sauce. Strained through muslin and sprayed onto leaves of a tree being torn to shreds. The result being the leaves sprayed were not touched but those below were still being eaten.

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As shown here the top is untouched while the two lower branches are eaten, the left branch totally stripped. Note the new shoots at the top are untouched by earwigs and not affected by the hot sauce spray.

That part of my mission is complete. Now to the next challenge.

I placed old blankets, sheets of tin, wood and lino strips in the orchard between trees to provide shelter for the earwigs during the day. The worst one was the tin sheets as it got too hot and nothing stayed beneath it for long. The others all worked well with the best being an old cupboard door as shown below.

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Not many shown here as its not easy to flip a door and get the Ipad up to shoot it. Suffice to say it works and now I had to find a way of killing them on the spot.

During one of my workshops that I hold around the place, an older lady was telling me how her mum used soap to kill a lot of bugs she didn’t want in her veggie garden. This was back in the days before off the shelf pesticides were available. Her method was to cut a small piece of soap off a bar, place it in a bottle of water and shake to dissolve the soap piece. She then poured it onto any infestations and re-covered them. Evidently the soap breaks down the insects skin and kills then. So I tried it with the only soap still around from those days, Velvet Soap.

Velvet soapVelvet soap spry test

I caught some earwigs and gave them a light spray, within an hour they were dead. Now every morning after the first coffee I patrol the traps or hides and squirt any beasties found there and re-cover. I have found more drop-tail lizards/skinks, scorpions and centipedes in the garden as a result. Not keen on the last one as they can get very large, up to 20cm long and dark olive body with red legs. Nasty!

Will post more of the garden once fully complete…

Still working on the scoria base, other projects/priorities keep getting in the way, but this shot shows the lush growth of tomatos, eggplant, chives, strawberries, afro and italian parsley, kale, mini cabbage, zucchini, rhubarb, yarrow and other herbs.


The only additives to the soil was some home made potting mix and a monthly spray of seaweed extract. Some close ups…

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There are problems though in LG’s Cross Garden, here is one…


His/Her name is Heckle. There were two we saved from a fallen nest, the other was Jekyll. Jekyll didn’t make it but Heckle makes up for that. Heres his/her contribution to gardening…


Childs bracelet, gutted green tomatos, marbles, golf balls, brass bath plug, small bottles, belt buckle, wire slingshot, molten aluminium, old key set, solar light bulb cover, blue stones and glass and brass cutlery. The solar lights are now denuded of covers completely. This is the best find so far…

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A 1953 coronation medal! Buffed it up a bit and showed Father who reckoned it was on of his siblings who lost it way back when. He also said there is an engagement ring in the vicinity that was lost when one of his sisters was playing with Nannas ring. Hope he finds it!

Any ripe red tomatos Heckle claims as his/hers so they have to be picked early and strawberries are now covered with bird netting which foils him/her.

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Might have to rethink gardening methods with Heckle around…