Since our move to the country I have dreamt of growing veggies in our very own garden. In our previous life we had an allotment; it wasn’t an official allotment patch, it was a patch of land owned by an elderly neighbour that he had previously used all of to grow veg, but had let a couple of patches go a bit wild. Not because of his age mind you, he was 80 something but still regularly went cycling – doing around 50 miles an outing, which he repeatedly told me really wasn’t that far, whilst I just stared at him in shock and awe. Anyway we worked the allotment for a few years, taking it from wrack and ruin to a pretty well flourishing and productive patch, and I loved it; I loved the hard work, the proper achy tiredness and dirty hands at the end of a day digging over the patch, and I loved the veg. Though truth be told that was just the icing on the cake, turning a patch of earth from nothing, to full of veg and flowers was the bit I really enjoyed. Which is a good job.
At the end of last summer we dug over one corner area of our new garden that was covered in grasses and weeds and, as it turned out, a huge piece of blue carpet underneath it all (ridiculously heavy to move). We decided that we’d keep that patch for flowers, and so we’ve planted a few heathers and flowers in so far, but have plans to get some clematis and jasmine in there to climb the wall, and then various bee friendly flowering plants to cover the rest of it.
We also planted strawberry plants, gooseberry, loganberry and blackcurrant bushes – all moved from our old allotment – in various borders around the garden – which we had to reveal from beneath lots of lovely weeds and thistles.
But now the new year is upon us, the real work starts. We have a large patch of garden which was previously a midden, and is now totally covered in grasses, weeds and brambles – and was host to a wasps nest last summer. Due to its size (and the wasps) we didn’t touch it last year, focussing on tackling the easier areas first, and hoping that winter might kill back some of the weeds on the midden – it hasn’t.
However before we start on the patch itself, we also need to clear the area in front and around it of moss which completely blankets the ground, as well as getting a chickenwire fence all around the midden to prevent a chicken onslaught when they are finally released.
The mild weather over the last few days has meant that I have finally been able to start; I’ve started off cutting back the hawthorn bushes along the front, and lifting the moss, ivy and nettles which are covering the ground. The kids were obviously keen to help; the girl was using the Gruffalo trowel she got for Christmas to fill their wheelbarrow – which was then emptied into the middle of the yard – and the boy kept grabbing handfuls of nettles rather than the easier moss, despite my protests, moaning that he was getting stung and then wandering off to find daddy, telling me “gardening’s BORING!”. So progress has been slow, to say the least.
Not one to be deterred though, I’m really looking forward to getting properly stuck in and starting to make the garden look more like a garden than a patch of wasteland. I love the thought that the garden is right there, literally on my doorstep and I can go to the loo or have a cup of tea when I want, it’ll also make it easier with the kids as they can hopefully just play whilst I work (though I realise I may just be dreaming here). We’ve been out and bought seeds and I’ll be starting to sow some of them (in a propagator in an outhouse rather than sowing directly into the earth) in the next few weeks. I’ve instructed J to take the girl to the shops tomorrow when the boy is at school, so I can finish off clearing the moss, and I might have a look at waving a spade at the midden, just to figure out exactly how much pain I’ll be in when it’s all done, and how many forks I’ll break in the process.
I’ll keep updating the blog with my progress, or lack of, hopefully I’ll be able to crow about it rather than commiserate over it, but only time will tell.