Sunday, 27 April 2008

Garden Update

The garden is proving a great joy this year. I'm working harder on it than other years in trying to grow a diverse and successful range of crops. I would like it have a more of a 'wild' feel, but with limited space, all parts of the garden seem to need to serve a purpose and I don't have any 'dead' areas that I can just leave - apart from a few small patches used as stick piles, an old compost heap and a few odd corners. I want the land to be productive and used efficiently but yet still have a good balance between grass lawn, flower borders and vegetable growing.

I've expanded the veg patch this year and using a fairly tight planting scheme to try and ensure high productivity. Last year I bought a small plastic greenhouse, a bit like a tent, and so far it has been successful and I can now hardly fit into it waht with various seed trays and pots!

The main problems I face in the garden are slugs and snails and wanting to use as little water as possible. Most snails end up over the garden fence, but apparently they have strong returning instincts (I heard recently of marking their shells with tippex to see which ones kept returning!). I'll admit to using pellets, but this year I may try something different, though not sure what. I could tyr the scissor system as adopted by my Mother-in_Law. In previous years I have used a combination of household waste water from washing up and general sink wastage and plain tap water. I've usually mulched around tomatoes, courgetts and runner beans (etc) with flinty gravel - either from stone picking around the garden or from other sources (a river!). This year I may try wood chippings. I did have my eye on some by a roadside a few miles away where some trees had been cut down, but apparently fresh chippings reduce soil nitrogen if they aren't well rotted, so I may buy some. I had wondered if it were possible to create mulches form waste plastic containers, perhaps by cutting them up, but I've decided to abandon that idea as I don't want bits of plastic all blowing around the garden. I should really have a water-but by the side of the house. What I may do is to get one by the veg patch and try and rig up a drip feed watering system to reduce watering time, particularly if I go way. As we are now on a water meter I am very concious of the water we use. I know that water is almost an unlimited resource in the country, but I do feel that I should respect what is available to me. We can take it for granted, but from a natural perspective I know we are very fortunate to have it and I feel obliged to use it with care. In the past I have tried to steer away from planting in pots and tubs, but in order to make use of the greenhouse and the patio space, I am using them but need to make sure I have a careful water management sytem.

So far this year, the garden is home to:
  • Potatoes (Nicola, early) - in the ground and in flowers pots

  • Tomatoes (Gardeners Delight seeds, and an occasional plant form a garden centre as backup)

  • One courgette, but more seeds will be planted (the yellow F1 hybrid Orelia)

  • Cabbages (Coleslaw White), cloche

  • Lettuce - various, some under cloches, some in pots

  • Carrots sown, varied coloured variety and others

  • Spring onions sown

  • Beetroot sown

  • Chard sown, not grown before

  • Herbs: Basil, Parsley, Marjoram and Dill, sown, varying degress of succes

  • Spinach sown last year, new leaves now being harvested

  • Leeks - pulled up a few for some leek and potato soup last week

  • Runner Beans (Celebration), sown in pots indoors

  • Strawberries now have a proper bird cage

  • Red and White currant bushes each now have a proper bird cage

I am always amazed at how much time is spent doing odd jobs and getting the garden in order, there is always something to do. The new arch, as shown above, is really one end of the washing line. I wanted something to add interest and height to this part of the garden, but it had to have a low shade footprint. Runner bean poles will extend from it and round to the right in a month or so.

Last year I knew that we had at least four or more frogs in the garden. I was therefore upset to discover I had disturbed their winter hibernating space back in the late winter when I moved the greenhouse. Two were later found dead on the lawn. I then managed to inadvertantly squash another under a plant pot in the greenhouse (I found it a few days later and realised what the cause of the rather strange smell was), but there was still one hopping around behind the summerhouse last week when I tidied up all my pot plants.

A couple of years ago I made some decent sized rectangular planters out of old pallets. I may now ditch these for some new plastic ones. They have rotted and fallen to bits and there were very heavy to move once full of tomatoes. They looked nice though, and if I had made them out of treated timber they may have lasted, but I'm not sure if I want to go to the effort to make new ones again. Things move around the garden alot, even the obelisk has moved twice in the past year! I am always looking for the best place for things and as the garden develops so things need adjusting a little.

We have seen a Red Kite three time in the past month or so flying above the garden. Two of those occasions were while we were having Sunday lunch!


Zenfrozt said...

My dad has a couple of methods for getting rid of the slugs and snails. One is to put broken egg shells around the edged of your plants and the other is the drunken snail method. Basically fill a small pot with some alcohol such as beer or lager and place it amongst your plants. The slugs/snails drink said alcohol and become drunk. This slows them down and makes them easier targets for the birds who then solve the problem :)

Tammy said...

Your garden is looking wonderful. It looks very inviting.