The first year here we put in a veg patch, all pleased with ourselves that we had managed to get it done in time and our seedlings had taken off on the window sill.
We proudly planted out all our broccoli and courgettes and waited to watch them grow. They didn’t. Gradually they all got eaten by what we think was voles and those that did not get eaten did not grow. We quickly realised that our bright idea of putting the veg patch there meant that come the summer, the leaves on the trees would block out most of the sunlight from that area, lesson learnt. We also put up a small poly tunnel and tried to grow some tomatoes but that was not in the right place either and what did grow got munched by some freeloading opportunist!
So the next year we moved the veg patch. We knew it would not be in the full sun but that it would get some which it did. Once again we put our seedlings out and watched to see what they would do. The broccoli got munched by what we found out are called cut worms, by the time we realised this the seedlings were all decapitated. Never mind, the courgettes and beetroot were looking promising and indeed, we did get a fantastic crop of courgettes. The beetroot started to push out of the ground, looking all fat and round so I decided I would boil one up. Went and pulled one out of the ground only to pull out a half moon shaped beetroot… The top half was perfect, the underneath had been completely munched and hollowed out so it looked like a whole beetroot on the surface! I had to admit defeat and accept that the voles were much cleverer than me.
We tried again with a small poly tunnel and that was more of a success with a good crop of tomatoes. The next year we did not bother much with the veg patch, other than courgettes, broad beans and spinach, all of which did well. We did put up another little poly tunnel having lost the first one to the high winds over the winter and in this we grew tomatoes and cucumbers which was wonderful.
This year we did think about moving the veg patch but as our septic tank is not far off being done we thought we should wait until final plans for the tank were made, no point creating a lovely veg patch and then having a huge digger go through it! So we settled for another little poly tunnel, last years one did well until the storm hit and most of it ended up in next doors garden…. Can you see a theme running here?
However, because of the imminent digging up of the garden, we were limited as to where we could put this. The first place we put it got too little sun so nothing grew. I decided to take everything out and move it by standing inside it and lifting up the metal frame, luckily for me nobody got a photograph of me moving stealth like across the garden inside the poly tunnel, it must have looked quite amusing to any passers by.
Put that in the new site and filled it back up but still, nothing really grew…. It’s all out there now, laughing at me, about 8 tomato plants and between them about 3 tomatoes, none of which have made any attempt at turning red. There is however a solitary cucumber which is battling on and may well end up being full size by Christmas. We did get hold of some big blue barrels, a friend of ours made such good use of these by cutting holes in the sides, putting a drain pipe with holes in down the middle and then filling it with soil. The plants then go in the holes and hey presto, a high rise garden that even the most intrepid vole or slug cannot get up!
However, due to so many things happening this summer it was just not possible to find the time to get that done so that will have to wait. We have a small walnut tree in the garden so that has provided us with a good crop of nuts. If you have ever peeled walnuts you will know that the casing stains your hands brown, usually this fades after several weeks and you have to hide your hands whilst in public in case people think you have just not bothered washing.
The cherry trees did wonderfully well this year as well and the pigeons and blackbirds did allow us to share which was kind of them. We also got two apples on the eating apple tree we planted last year. Sadly the peach tree did not fruit this year, the late frost stopped it from blossoming. A fantastic surprise this year was the grape vine that we did not know was there. This is well hidden amongst the wisteria on the side of the lean to and this year suddenly decided to bear fruit! There was not enough to make wine but we have munched our way through juicy sweet proper grapes with pips in them, perfect.
We have grown lots of things successfully in the past so I know we can do it again, it is just a matter of working out what sort of soil is there and what sort of freeloaders are living hereabouts to work out the best way to have a fruitful garden. The one wonderful thing is that most of the herbs I have planted here have thrived, in fact one of the best ever buys was a 1euro organic rocket plant from Aldi, I planted it last year and it thrived, this year it has taken over the lettuce bed and is still going strong! Flowering is dying off now so I shall be collecting the seeds from that imminently.
Despite all the failures I love gardening, it is just one of the best things to do, if you do not worry too much about the outcome, getting down and dirty in the garden is such a wonderful thing to do and with practice and perseverance the rewards are huge.
These blogs are just short excerpts of much bigger chapters! I am currently working on getting a book published about our journey so far in order to assist funding for the Earthkin project. If you would like to be informed when the book is available, please subscribe to our newsletter, thank you.
Hello, I am Debs. Myself and my partner Tom are following our long held dream of bringing our vision to reality – Earthkin – a place of sanctuary for nature, wildlife and people. I am sharing our journey so far by writing about the good, the bad and the downright messy! I will continue to update you every step of the way, do come and follow us www.earthkin.org