Slow Living and Garden :: July 2016


And then the garden went Boom!  I’ve never been the tidiest gardener – a couple of years ago I took part in a series with Monty Don and he sighed at me a lot and was very patient, but did say that I was rather “chaotic” – as it was, we found out that we had to move halfway through filming, which kind of put the kai-bosh on our plans (and as it was, it was all very rushed and we moved the day after we finished filming – very, very far from ideal!)

I did try to be more tidy, really I did, but with a baby on the way and then here and some residual health issues from that experience (10b 11oz is bl**dy heavy, especially when your back isn’t at its best and said baby is baby no 6!) “tidy” went out of the window – as did getting much done in the garden.

But slowly, very slowly, we are finally getting around to pulling the garden into productive use (it was all grass and concrete when we moved in).  And yes, I do weed, when I need to, but also tolerate (and indeed welcome) more “weeds” than many gardeners would perhaps tolerate – I’m happy to leave them in their space whilst I’m not using it.  It may not work for everyone, but it does for me.


We’ve built various raised beds – the one above is closest to the patio and holds a selection of salad leaves, plus some fuchsia I had nowhere else to put and a rescued honeysuckle (we’re planning to give it something a bit more attractive to climb up next year).


The currants and gooseberries all have temporary homes around the garden, as some will be moved out front when we move on to pulling up the paving (the front is entirely paved) to make space for a front garden and others will be arranged around the planned for trees when we start planted them in the autumn/winter.  Here they’re fairly well hidden by bolted chard.


The two large raised beds are almost unrecognisable from a few months ago.  The eventual plan for the garden is to grow more perennials, but for the time being they are home to various annuals (including self-seeded perpetual spinach, amongst other things).

We have had many self-seeded sunflowers around the garden.  Some I have rehomed to pots, others I’ve sadly had to pull and compost, but some I just left to get on with it.  I like to leave the odd perpetual spinach/chard/lettuce to bolt and seed about.

Around the raised beds I’ve been planting various herbs (including transplanting strawberries from the “wild side” – yes, we do have a wilder side) and the plan is to put in stepping stones and let the herbs spread around them.

The eventual plan for the fences on both sides are espaliers and fans of fruit trees (our neighbour on the pictured side will be collaborating with us, staggering trees back and forth across the fence).


So far this year we have harvested: beetroot (leaves), chard, kale, perpetual spinach, broad beans, borlotto beans, courgettes, black and red currants, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, a few carrots (the first sowing was disturbed and the carrots’ growth damaged as a result – but there will be more to come), lettuce (various), welsh onions, nettles, nasturtium (leaves so far), basil, sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, calendula, lavender, lemon balm, various mints, potatoes, rhubarb, cucumbers (from the conservatory) – I’m bound to have forgotten something!

I’ve been busy processing berries into cordials and crumbles, plus drying a few (cherries pictured aren’t from the garden).  Rhubarb, lemon balm and mint have all been used to make more cordials (and in the case of the latter two, have also been added to homemade lemonade).  A raspberry liqueur has also been added to list of things steeping for the Winter Solstice.

Coming fast in the wings are tomatoes and dwarf beans.


“Purple Queen” dwarf bean flowers


The hedgerow in the chicken run is doing very well (I do dive in and weed a bit occasionally, but the chickens really enjoy access to the abundant salad bowl).



The neglected side of the garden is home to rampant raspberries and other hardy thugs competitors (I’m looking at you, feverfew).  Yes, I should probably have tied the raspberries and yes, I did forget to cut them back early this year – but the upside of that is bonus accidental double cropping of the raspberries, so not a complete loss!  Many are due to be rehomed to the shaded side of the new allotment and others will be finding a “tidy” home out front where they will lead a cultivated, tied in existence, for front garden presentation’s sake, to make room for the planned for espaliers and fans.


And finally a quick pic of my little helper – who loves being in the garden – he enthusiastically helps me pick and weed (and is the reason I still don’t have any garlic chives in the garden…)


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