Vegetable Growing dominates proceedings at the moment, with what seems like a tiny amount of time to get everything ready, and sown at the right time.
Today I planted out my early potatoes. We like the variety Charlotte, and I managed to get a long bed of them planted out. That was not a great chore in itself, but I had to weed first, move some of the soil which had slumped off of the bed, and add more compost after planting.
One of the reasons for the slow start to the year, is that I am re-modelling the plot, and so I have to weed, shift the bed, then plant. Originally I had three large areas in which to grow my food, but was never really clear whether I was growing for us, or producing a surplus for sale. I have now decided that I am far too lazy to do any extra work, and so there is no need to keep such a large area under cultivation for two people. One of the areas will eventually morph into a poultry forage/comfrey patch/soft fruit growing space, one is just being left to its’ own devices, and the original area, the one which I first started with, will grow all of our vegetables. Since I first established it, I’ve learnt a lot, and have a much clearer idea of what I want to grow, how I want to grow it, and how much space I need. The space itself is probably not quite big enough, so I intend to sheet mulch the extra space, put up the fencing, build the gates, and then join it with the original space. Pictures to follow.
One of the problems that I had with this particular space, is that it is where I grew all of my perennial vegetables. Sadly, they all had a value as bee plants, so I kept on leaving them to flower, and they kept on setting seed. In the end I had to transplant them all, as they were taking up all of the available space, and they have been placed out on the swale banks.
This picture shows part of one of the banks, complete with it’s new plants. The bank is about 40 meters long, and is full of perennial plants taken from my vegetable patch. Most of them are perennial onions, but there are also herbs, salad leaves and edible flowers. There are two more banks like this, although this is the most densely planted. I still have some Mallow, Fennel, and Lemon Balm to move, and it looks like there are potentially thousands of Wild Rocket seedlings, just starting to sprout.
One of the many advantages of growing in a smaller space, is that I can concentrate my compost into a smaller area. I’m not short of compost, but soon I should be able to use it as a growing mulch, as well as a soil conditioner. I’m almost on top of the weeding now. I do it all by hand. In the Summer I do use a hoe on the paths, but the beds are all picked over with my fingers.
This picture was taken earlier in the year, and shows my compost bays. The white bucket in front of the bays, and the shed hidden behind them should give you an idea of the scale.
This evening I ruthlessly sorted through my box of seeds, and threw away any that were out of date, and any that I didn’t think I would grow this year. I spend a lot of effort trying new vegetables, that we don’t seem to get around to eating. This year I intend to garden as if I had a limited space available, and will try and evaluate how much effort I had to put in, compared with the yield of the garden. Hoping to judge what is right for me, and my situation. My aim is to garden for less than two hours a day, averaged over the season, and to produce all of our vegetables right through to next Spring. I do not know if that’s possible yet, but I would like to see if I can meet our food needs, and still have enough time to do all of the other things that I enjoy. The last two years have been hectic. Trying to keep all of that space clear of weeds, and growing well, and I want to change that.