Sunday, 24 January 2010

Making progress

What with the snow, the sub-zero temperatures and the delights of Christmas we'd almost forgotten what our garden looked like! My aching muscles will testify to the fact that we've certainly made up for our weeks of neglect over the past two days, with the garden structure coming along in leaps and bounds. We've gone from this very overgrown and weedy vegetable patch when we moved in in the summer:

Like this...

To this ...

To finally having the whole plot (10mx3m) cleared just before Christmas.

This weekend WH has gone from the fairly dull and destructive process of digging things up, to the excitement of building. Having read a lot of different advice about growing your own, we decided to opt for raised beds, to keep the cultivated area to a manageable size and assist with crop rotation. We're squeezing in six 1x2m beds, the first four of which we set up this weekend. They're from a company called linkabord, and are made from recycled plastic, so as well as being environmentally friendly, they help to keep the soil insulated from severe temperature changes. We've been setting down weed-suppressant fabric around and slightly under each bed, but our soil is so good we're leaving the beds without a base, which will also allow for good root growth, where required. We'll top up with some compost before covering again until the beds are ready to be planted in the spring. The paths between and around the beds are going to be gravel, which should help to deter slugs (fingers crossed).

Very smart!

You may ask what I've been doing for two days whilst my other half slaved over the garden construction. Well, I've been creative, destructive and organised:

Creative: My parents gave us a maslin pan which apparently belonged to my great-grandmother. Now that is definitely what I'd call an heirloom and I duly christened it this weekend with a batch of marmalade (seville orange and earl grey). 2.5 jars from 1/2 a kilo of sevilles.

Destructive: We've ambitious plans for the pergola area of the garden, including the planting of four grape vines, due to be delivered next month. Unfortunately, this means having to remove the existing plants (some of them were more dead than alive, but still). I've wrestled with two honeysuckle, one clematis, one unidentified bush and a sturdy horsechestnut sapling. I can barely move my arms to type....

One third cleared, two thirds to go.....

Organised: I placed most of my seed order for 2010 before Christmas, with a small top up earlier this month after I spent a happy hour with squared paper and colouring pencils producing my physical plot design and realised I'd missed some things out. Despite the impressive catalogue collection, I actually purchased all the vegetable seed from Thompson and Morgan this year - I'll branch out next year as some of the companies we bought our fruit trees and bushes from were very good too. With the seed packets all lined up, it struck me that I won't be doing much beyond sowing, planting, tending, harvesting, cooking and preserving this year. Oh well - happy growing everyone!

This collection doesn't include the fruit (raspberries, strawberries, morello cherry tree, sweet cherry tree and blackcurrant bush already planted, grapes still to come), potatoes and shallots (still to be delivered) or the garlic (planted in the autumn) ...!

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