I have said several times that just occasionally my boats and sailing have to take a back seat at certain times during the growing year : mainly in early spring and then now when i lift the main crops. What i thought i would do today was to give you guys a virtual tour of the garden as it is now and talk a bit about the project so far.
We have 2 gardens which are larger than average for a UK garden and nothing like the scale of say Alan’s place in NZ. Little story here : i have an aunt in NZ who left the UK when i was maybe 7 or 8 and has a place on the North Island… i remember my parents saying that they used a tractor in their garden. When you consider that the garden we had at the time was about 10 feet wide and maybe 20 long i was a bit confused as i had never seen a garden larger than that….i believe that their vegetable garden was about an acre !.
The front garden is the main vegetable garden and so far has been about 1,000 hours of work to get into the productive state it is now. As you can see we are up on the side of the valley which means we don’t sit in the cold air thermocline and we get sun all day long : one problem is that in midsummer the greenhouse is almost too hot to use.
The core of the garden is the 5 deep but raised beds. The 3 to the right are the ones i built first along hugelculture lines. The main problem here is that the site sits on top of metalliferous spoil and very acid clay so i don’t grow in the actual site soil but rather in the imported topsoil which had been laid over the entire site here. The hugel beds are about 4 feet deep and have a dense layer of wet rotting wood in their base of about a foot thick which acts as the carbon store and ‘sponge’. Above that is the clean topsoil which i grow in. This year i am adding horse manure as i manage to get it.
The original structure was nothing like this , rather it was a badly conceived and executed ‘designer’ garden with a whole load of features that didn’t work and the whole site was a mass of brambles and nettles when we took over. This group of pictures next just shows the area now taken up by the top left deep bed which at first was a ‘deck’ when we got here but hiding some 11,000 kg of debris and rats nests.
This section went through several intermediate stages before i built the new big bed there last year. For a while it was a small enclosed garden within the garden : its about the same size as the total garden we had at Jax’s house !. For a while i used it for my container gardening, then built 2 small beds there and finally stripped the remaining structure and built the new big bed as it is today.
I seem to remember that it took a whole month to destroy the deck and sort/heave out the vast amount of hardcore debris and rubbish and truck all of that to the commercial tip.
Down the centre where the main beds are now was a weird set-up of galvanised troughs in a descending line, these were supposed to be some kind of water feature with a pump that circulated water from a long and deep trough at the bottom back up to the trough at the top. The troughs were part filled with gravel : apparently the pump blew out within days of it being finished and was never repaired so over the years the troughs just became weed and slime filled. I don’t have any photographs of that work but mainly what i had to do was dig the whole centre out, seive the stones out of the tons of soil and then build the wooden boxes that form the beds…the boxes go way below the decking which is still the original. Our man Chris (kittiwake) helped me enormously by bringing over a whole load of rotting wood for the hugel layers.
The site edge which borders the lane is the part i still haven’t got right : i did have a netted fruit ‘cage’ there for a while and was thinking about having either chucks or ducks in there but never got that far with it. The bottom of the site is formed by a section which i keep semi-wild with some small trees an woodland bulbs…very pretty in spring as it explodes with daffodils and bluebells.
The road edge is my current/next major re-design project as at one end i am working on the drive entrance, have just done the seasonal weed bash along the back edge and am working on a new planting scheme for the edge beds. The actual current garden project is at the back where i am re-modelling the area of garden that i look at as i am sitting at the computer.
As a vegetable garden what i have now are 5 deep beds which i plan to use in a normal rotation except that one bed can be resting in any year. I have just finished clearing all the beds and will be covering them over soon to prevent weed growth….before that i need a whole load of manure for some of them.
In the next of this series which will be 4 posts i will talk about the greenhouse and/or container gardening.
Comments and edit.
Alan wrote : ” Very impressive Steve a lot of development work has gone into your garden not a weed in sight ! and good production. What more can you ask.