Nearly there nearly square Part 2: Of diggers and drills

So following on from the completion of the building we decided to move the fence on the south aspect further out on the drive side to add a few more feet of growing room and better access plus the fence was falling down as well. I’m not a lover of concrete posts and gravel boards but the wooden posts rot quickly and the wind really hits this side during the winter.

Then came Tim the digger man! what a star he managed to save my topsoil, bury the rubble, level the site and dig up my bay tree that had survived the hellish cold from the winter 2010/11 and I thought deserved a try. Unfortunately he was so keen to get started he did all this whilst I was out so no photos of big machinery in action.  Love a man with a big digger!  He also leveled and rolled the road stone for our ‘ car park ‘ which in turn has created a mound which I shall be sowing with wild flowers in a few weeks.

I have a plan Stan and have worked out on graph paper what I intend to grow where.  Not so much raised beds as  lower paths as I didn’t want improved drainage just to separate beds from paths.  I was keen to put down a weed membrane too as this would make life easier in the long run with weeding .  I used wood leftover from a finished project to create the beds as I wanted to recycle where possible but I didn’t want to compromise on style so I decided to paint all the different woods to tie everything together.  At this point I would recommend giving serious thought to painting pallets for compost bins, so many sides!  I’m glad I did it now but as they were the first items to be painted they were also nearly the last.

The biggest problem was wrestling large amounts of wood on my todd! I started construction with large nails as we seemed to have lots, this idea soon changed to screws and after a trying afternoon changing and charging batteries and throwing wrecked drills against walls I had put in one screw!   A quick trip to Screwfix and I had a new drill with 3 batteries, a large amount of screws and a case of lovely drill bits and countersinking gismos, job sorted.

I now made up the first of 7 (4 x 10) ft beds and tried to place them where they looked ‘right’ I did measure for the Puresists among you but with none of the infrastructure being at right angles to each other I’m afraid the designer had a  battle with the engineer and won.  Weed membrane went down between the beds which were dug over ready for new tenants.  The first bed was the south facing fence  into which I replanted my brown turkey fig and my rhubarb along with a couple of roots of Horseradish which I’ve never grown before.

The second bed  is for herbs, positioned closest to the house for dashing to in the rain.  Into this I replanted my bay tree, sage and mint from the nursery at Meynell Langley which has a unique taste of childhood and has always been present in my garden.  I found some chives that had survived the winter in a nursery bed and some re-emerging parsley that might just produce some usable stalks before the new season plants are ready.  Parsley is a Biennial so will grow in first year of planting and flower seed and die in second year and need replacing.  I have always been on the hunt for French Tarragon as the more readily available Russian variety that tends to be more hardy in the UK doesn’t  have the same flavour, a Twitter shout-out  resulted in a find at Otter Farm.

Yes this bed is wonky, it’s to compensate for all the different angles.  Please note strategic placing of bench to catch evening sun and worn out gardener clutching White wine spritzer.

In the next installment, preparing and sowing a trial bed for the ‘metre square’ intensive veg plot.

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Nearly There, Nearly Square Veg plot

For many years I have had a veg plot in our garden.  I think it was originally a dog run for the previous owners greyhounds.  However it was fenced all round and was a wonderful sun trap, out of the brisk Westerly winds we get.  It started with a few beds cut from the rough grass turf and slowly grew to accommodate the old greenhouse left by the previous owners in a very shady spot, some raspberries and  the all important shed.  Problems in design soon came to the fore, namely the ‘turf’ was old pasture and primarily twitch grass and perennial weeds whose one mission in life was to reestablish dominance in my lovingly tended beds.  I also had the added problem that we are based on the same sub strata as the long gone Hilton Gravel Pits, now a nature reserve, namely river pebbles and boulders!  Great for pebble ponds, paths and general coastal planting but not so hot for carrots, parsnips and anything you want a straight root from.  Potatoes do very well as an old friends gardening Guru husband predicted they would.  I lost count of the times I brought in a bucket of potatoes and found myself trying to peel a pebble.

Time has moved on as has priorities and health and the veg plot was all but abandoned with the onset of a building project that would see most of the plot buried under a new double garage and wood store and all the associated excavations and builders rubble.  The up side was that I could have the  plot landscaped when building was completed and access to all those lovely heat retaining South and West facing brick walls.

Here are some photos of what I started ‘again’ with, part 2 with improvements to follow.