So last year I started making slight inroads with our veggie patch. Around this time I'd just built one raised bed, and then later in the year I got a further 2 beds built. I found these quite manageable throughout the growing season, and come Autumn they were still in a good state and even got properly put to sleep for the Winter, weed free with a layer of leaves all over them. So we hit Spring this year in a pretty good place. But I was also keen to reclaim more areas of the veggie patch and build further raised beds. And that plan has been going well - I've got another 5 more raised beds built in fact.
It's still not looking pretty out there, and there's still loads to do but it is getting quite productive. And we've been harvesting a few different crops already - which is hugely satisfying. But maybe enough on the written history, and I'll just skip to a photographic tour.
I think I might have posted photos of this first little patch earlier this year. An ancient wheelbarrow turned into salad planter, and a now unneeded wooden gas cylinder shelter turned upside down which has become a strawberry patch.
We've been thinning out the lettuces into our salads and the strawberries are coming in dribs and drabs now, I've netted them but I've been meaning to get some straw around them all week and that hasn't happened yet.
They're right next to the fairly battered greenhouse, in which we have tomatoes, cucumbers and an intriguing 'cucamelon' plant - I'll let you know if we get anything from that.
Here's the first new patch I dug and built this year, and this is the one which took the most time.
I really should have taken some 'before' photos to compare here. It's now choc full of earthed up new potatoes, but back in March it was an enormous mound of nettles, brambles and bindweed. The soil in this area, though riddled with weed roots, was amazing - incredibly rich and loamy and loaded with worms. I think it was probably the site of an old compost heap, and because it was a large mound, there was enough of the soil to fill another bed as well. So clearing it was time well spent - although if I'd realised how long it would take me I might not have tackled it!
Here's one of the beds from last year, with broad beans, onions and garlic all doing well.
|We've had several meals from the broad beans, and still lots more to come. So much better than shop bought.|
And the last of the existing beds. A row of parsnip thinnings - I'm terrible at thinning out anything, I hate to throw away perfectly good plants, so they all got replanted in various places. I wasn't sure they'd cope with being transplanted but they are mostly holding their own. Then quite a few tomato plants, which I think have grown enormously just in the couple of days since this photo was taken, and which need staking. And there's now a row of carrot thinnings at the far side - see comments re parsnip thinnngs! I'm not so sure the carrots are going to handle their transplantation so well though, they're looking a little wilted at the moment, despite how much rain the garden has been enjoying this week.
The second of the new beds...
|Here it is from the opposite,onion/pea side.|
Onions, my earlier sown peas (just starting to produce some pods which are delicious eaten whole, although these peas were grown for the actual peas inside), another, slightly later, sown, row of broad beans, a few purple spouting broccoli plants, more parsnip thinnings (!), a couple of courgettes - one massive one dwarfing the other, I'd forgotten just how much room these need, although I spotted a baby courgette on it today so it's hard to be annoyed with it, I think I may have to find a new home for the smaller relation though - and a few cucumber plants.
New bed number 3...
This one is dug out, lined and built, but the soil was not great here and I'd run out of my good supplies from elsewhere in the garden and really couldn't afford to buy in enough soil to fill this. So I've done the same as last year and planted in bags of compost - this was an idea I read about on 'Faith, family, food and fabric' here. It worked really well last year, especially with a combination of sweetcorn and pumpkins so I've done that again (with some cheeky carrot thinnings in a few spaces!).
|Pumpkin flowers already|
I'll hopefully build up the soil in this one gradually with things like local manure, the almost mature contents of our wormery, leaf mould compost etc, but quite possibly I'll be growing in bags again next year as this happens.
New bed number 4...
This one was an unplanned addition. My Dad has always liked gardening, and does potter around with various bits and pieces still, but I think his biggest pleasure now is buying plants! He came home one day with about 20 more strawberry plants which he'd seen and felt were too much of a bargain not to buy. I found another ancient wheelbarrow at our nearby recycling centre to repurpose, and that's up near his end of the house with some of them in it, so quite manageable for him to look after. But the rest needed a home so another bed had to be built. There's room in this one for the strawberries to spread quite a bit, and it's amazing how many runners they're already starting to throw out, but for this year there are also some extra tomatoes in here and another little row of parsnip thinnings! The strawberries themselves are ripening nicely, and getting picked daily.
|Again I've been meaning to get some straw around these.|
|I'm keeping reasonably on top of pinching out the side shoots on my tomatoes this year, and we already have quite a few flowers, I think the tomatoes. perhaps more than anything else, are loving the wet weather we've been having this week.|
I seem to have completely missed taking any photos of new bed number 5, possibly because it's a strange, long thin bed just for asparagus and it's not very easy to photograph. So that will have to wait till next time, especially as this is already so long! There are a few tyres scattered throughout too, some large tractor tyres...
|Blueberries in smaller tyres in the background here.|
There's another large tyre with carrots and a few extra peas, which also didn't get photographed, and then quite a few smaller tyres. These mainly have cucumbers, with just one odd squash. There were 2 originally, but I think I was a bit quick to plant them out and one sadly died.
|These tyres have a thick layer of old cardboard beneath them to try and help keep them weed free.|
A couple more missing tyres with gooseberries and quite a few other bits and pieces I could mention - lots more blueberries all doing well, loganberries and tayberries almost ready, sweet peas squeezed in mainly in pots here and there, a couple of honeyberries which look amazingly healthy but have no berries - perhaps they need to be a little older before they bear fruit? - there is just so much going on out there and so much to do! And I haven't even mentioned the tree chopping, coppicing and pruning which has been taking up huge amounts of garden time, but in the process providing us with excellent stocks for the wood burner next year.
I'd like to think that future garden posts will not be anything like so long! In fact I guarantee they won't be! But before I finish I must add a couple of last photos, of something we've never had any success with previously - sunflowers!
Happily our sunflower seeds (like pretty much every seed we planted this year in fact) did really well, and we have around 15 sunflowers standing reasonably tall already. Including several with very exciting buds...
They won't be long now!