As the new year gets underway, my mind is full of plans for the new vegetable garden. Ideas and designs have spent the best part of 2 years in a sketch pad, I really can’t wait to finally put these long and thought out plans into action. However, garden tools are now retired to the outbuilding/shed until spring arrives with drier weather. It’s been a mild winter so far and this area has missed out on any snow, but the ground is too soft to continuously walk on.
I mention the outbuilding. It sits alongside the greenhouse, sharing the plot where the new vegetable garden will go, and it really needs a make over. Rendered concrete construction, 2 metal doors and a small wooden window, it currently looks tired and unloved, to be honest it’s a bit of an eyesore. But I’m sure I can bestow some magic upon this very useful storage space. A clean up, lick of paint (I’m thinking soft cream walls, white doors and window frame), window box, rustic pots and planters, perhaps a climbing rose to scramble over and a few garden accessories should make a huge difference. I might even treat it to some pretty floral bunting in summer.
In other news, I’m collecting 5 – 6 eggs a day from the hens and of course the pullets are really helping to boost the number, it’s their first winter and they’re in great condition. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a productive winter from the hen houses, I’m baking more than usual that’s for sure! The older hens appear to be doing well, although a winter moult is expected soon.
Allotment news! Garlic is growing well, and for the first time I’ve planted some elephant garlic too. I recently removed a young rhubarb crown that I planted last year, this was taken home in a large container of compost and will start off the rhubarb patch in our new vegetable garden very soon, can’t wait for that. That’s about it for now with allotment planting, I’ll sow some hardy broad beans soon (at the allotment and potted up in the greenhouse in case of failures) and then think about which tomatoes I’d like to grow. I have Charlotte seed potatoes in trays to chit in the unheated conservatory, and I’ve sorted through my seed packets.
We started work on the new kitchen garden recently, mainly clearing up, cutting back and deciding where everything will eventually go kind of work. And the chickens got involved too, especially the two rescue hens who’d rather be by my side than exploring with the others. Chickens are great at scratching and turning over soil with their enthusiastic feet, and excellent pest control too.
It’s been almost 2 years since we moved house and left our productive kitchen garden behind, container gardening and our plot at the allotment providing us with seasonal produce ever since. The very bottom of our new garden was earmarked early on to be the spot where the new kitchen garden would go, and now, after watching where the sun rises and sets, identifying sunny and shaded areas throughout the seasons, we’re ready to start putting our plans into action. The section of garden we’re working with is a good-sized space and will easily accommodate a number of raised beds for vegetables and soft fruits, a bed near the compost bin has now been dug over and cleared for our new rhubarb patch.
Before winter takes a firm grip we’re concentrating on clearing perennial weeds, old woody shrubs, bramble roots and large stones from an area in front of the fencing (which will probably become a gravel path), the rest will be easier because it’s lawn, and that’s where the raised beds will go. On rainy days and when the weather turns bitterly cold I’ll gather inspiration and design ideas from my Pinterest board.
The area isn’t very interesting to look at right now, I’ll take photos once the raised beds go in, probably during spring.
I enjoy the occasional fresh salad during winter, so with this in mind I decided to grow a few tasty things in the greenhouse. I’m growing autumn variety broad beans for the leaves only, autumn peas for young shoots and baby (immature) beets for leaves rather than roots. Herbs such as mint will overwinter well if kept frost-free and parsley will continue to grow happily if brought indoors during cold weather. Coriander is easily grown from seed all year round.
The plants are not going to be allowed to crop so I can afford to sow seed quite close together, packing in as many as I can. Fingers crossed for an interesting and tasty salad this winter. Have a go yourself!
I always have a list of fruit and veg that I would like to grow, it’s constantly being added to so I have to be realistic and try a few new things at a time – I think it’s fun to set myself a little goal and go from there. As long as I don’t completely under-estimate growing space going spare I usually get stuck in and get my hands dirty. This is my list of new things that I’m going to try to grow this year:
Asparagus (from seed)
Purple sprouting broccoli
Do you have a list of new things to grow this year?
For fear of sounding like a right old moaner, I refrained from blogging over the Christmas holidays about the lack of activity within the garden smallholding due to flu hitting our household the week before Christmas. I still cannot seem to shake it. Obviously when you have animals to care for their needs MUST be met everyday, even if you feel like you cannot lift your head from your pillow. Some mornings I felt just like that. A lot of people it seems were affected by this darn flu bug during the Christmas festivities, it really knocks you for six.
The mini orchard plans have come to a grinded halt as well as everything else. I wanted to get some sort of plan drawn up for the vegetable garden, the plot is so overgrown at the moment its hard to visualise where the vegetable beds will be just by looking at it. Im feeling a lot better than I did so I will try and get on with the plans which I think will help tremendously.
We are working on the theory of having 5 decent size beds, with one being a permanent bed and the other 4 rotating what we grow each year. How this will work in practise we have yet to see! I think it will help if we work out exactly what our family are more likely to eat and go from there. It can be very tempting to grow as much as you can squeeze in, but im sure that would lead to waste which I would hate. Also, I dont wish to make the same mistake as last year by punching above my weight attempting crops that were just too difficult for a beginner. Of course they dwindled, shriveled and died and it left me feeling a bit deflated overall. But, I did have some success though!
So my plan for the next few weeks is to come up with some sort of drawing that I can refer back to when the time comes to clear the plot of brambles and nettles. Not all of it is going though, just the area we need for growing our vegetables. We are very lucky to live next to a mini woodland thats bursting with wildlife. I am hoping to see many butterflies this coming spring and summer and leaving the nettles and bramble wildpatch area will be the perfect habitat for some of our native species, and hopefully some good photographs!