For a gardener and a garden writer there is precious little about gardening on this blog. It is not because I don’t do any but more because I sometime wonder how much interest there is in reading about someone else’s gardening.
However, maybe I’m wrong? Maybe some of you would like to hear about my gardening exploits? Please do comment if that is the case and also please tell me about your gardens. What are the challenges you face (I know my biggest one is lack of time!)?
I’m lucky enough to rent a place where we share a ¾ of an acre garden with the landlady.
It is a big but, by and large, a well set out garden with a mix of lawn areas (some with bulbs), a small orchard, some wild borders, mixed shrubs and a vegetable patch. As the space is shared at first just had a veg-patch and lawn and the landlady hires/hired a gardener for the rest.
The vegetable patch was very overgrown despite the fact that it is situated in one of the shadiest parts of the garden. You couldn’t get to the raspberries or much of the soft fruit. Last year we tried to grow a lot of things with a really mixed success. The soil for the small vegetable area had been dug and left to leach which meant there was no life in it and very little nutrition.We did improve this by laying down card and mulching over with compost. The worm population has rocketed as a result and the weeds are more manageable.
However it is simply too dark for most things, especially those plants which prefer much sunnier climes such as tomatoes and cape gooseberries. Even our leeks and brassicas struggled.
Then there were the pests, what a hungry pheasant didn’t go for the pigeons, mice and we suspect the gardener did. When we netted over the Brussel’s sprouts we found we’d simply made a trap for small birds. Slugs were also a bit of a problem but thankfully not as bad as in some other plots I’ve had.
So equally not wanting to feed or kill off the local avian population I had a rethink about the patch. I decided that traditional vegetable growing was perhaps best somewhere else. On this plot it seemed to make sense to put in a mix of shade tolerant plants, mainly perennials as seedlings rather than seed. As we plan to move in a couple of months this makes perfect sense as I want to leave something positive behind.
So I pruned and moved the traditional perennials like blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb. They are now less prone to getting infested with weeds and they can have a tight net over them. Last year they were dotted all over the plot which not only took up room but also made it difficult to grow anything around them.
Alongside these I’ve put in some more unusual perennials such as Chinese artichokes Stachys affinis (these are very tasty and do well in the shade), oca or oxalis tuberosa, ground ivy Glechoma hederacea (makes a good tea) and sweet cicely Myrrhis odorata. It is a work in progress and I plan to sow or plant many other things in that bed – mainly salads and herbs.
The sunny patio area outside the house now has a couple of large planters with potatoes. The tomatoes may go here but I think we’re not going to get a crop of them this year as we plan to move in July.
The landlady has let me have a bit more of a reign of the garden and I’m now planning to put in a small wildflower area using a shade tolerant wild flower mix. However I need to be careful as the gardener is quite grumpy and seems a little protective over the garden at times.
So that is garden number 1!
Numbers 2, 3 and 4 coming soon…