Garden Layout



April 2009

10th April 2009

Winter has been shockingly cold, dropping to -9.5°C. This has been followed by a very warm spring. Over the winter I have acquired some of the fruit bushes and trees from my fiance's allotment, this has added a further 6 blackcurrant bushes, and 3 more apple trees. I have also sacrificed one of the 5 plots of the vegetable garden to grow raspberries (autumn bliss). I picked up some very cheap fruit bushes from wilko, at £1 each, I don't know what the quality will be like, but at such a low price, anything I get off them will be pretty much pure profit. These were 3 red currants (variety unknown), and two raspberries (variety unknown). To date one of the raspberries has produced a nice amount of foliage, the other has produced one leaf. Will see how this one gets on. Two Blueberry (Sunshine Blue) bushes have also been added, these are planted in containers.

The new apple trees that I have added to the garden are:

  • Cox's orange Pippin
  • Belle de Boskoop
  • Bramley

These are all being grown in containers so I can move them around easily, and to help contain their vigour. The new blackcurrant bushes are all Ben Sarek, same as those already in the garden.

Alongside this enlarged collection of fruit trees and bushes, two new hop plants have been planted. East Kent Goldings, and Wye Challenger. These are planted at opposite corners of the vegetable plot. Each has a fence to grow up, along with a pole to allow them to attain their full height. The fuggle hop that I planted last year has done well, and I have now fixed a trellis for it to grow up properly this year. Hopefully I should get a reasonable crop this year.

Vegetable wise, the broad beans I planted in the autumn have done poorly, I think I planted them slightly later than I would have liked. Something to be aware of for next year. I decided to cheat abit and get some vegetable plugs from the garden center to start the season off while my seedlings are still growing. Four rows of beetroot, one row of leeks, and 20 brassica plants are now settling in well. I have had to give in and resort to slug pellets this year, I lost so much of my crops to slugs and snails last year that I can't afford to have them decimate the crops for a second year. It is not a decision I am pleased with, but it is the one conscession I am having to make in order to be able to get a decent crop.

Another approach I am taking in the hope of avoiding the slug attack, is the increased use of hanging baskets. As well as strawberries, I am planning to plant a selection of beans, nasturtiums, swiss chard and lettuces in these. Large 65l and 90l black tubs will form a third front in the war against the slugs. Around the bottom of each of these will be a strip of copper tape which should prevent the slugs from climbing up into the tubs. These tubs will be home to some of the more sensitive crops, lettuces, raddishes, and the like.

I have started off a load of seedlings on the window cill in my bedroom, including beans (french, runner, borlotti), kale, celery, leeks, nasturtiums, dill, and a winter squash. These should be ready for planting outside during the next 6 weeks, all being well. On the kitchen window cill I have had a window box with mixed salad leaves growing in it, which are now being harvested in a cut and come again fashion. Lovely fresh food with a distance of 2-3 ft from growing location to plate.

Back in september 2006 I set out a sort of wishlist for wildlife features in the garden. Since I first had functioning fence posts I have had atleast one bird feeder in the garden, over time this has grown to a second feeder, and a hanging bird table. I have put up two nest boxes, a small box for blue tits, and an openfront box for robins. So far interest in the tit box appears rather limited. The Robin box on the other hand is an interesting one. I put it up on the fence in the corner above the rhubarb patch. Within a matter of days it had been found by the local robins, who promptly built a nest, next to it. Thats right, not in the nesting box I put up for them, but next to it, between it and the fence. They have since managed to raise 1 single chick which fledged at the start of april. The first (of many I hope) young bird born in my garden. Once the robins had finished with the nest has been taken over what I think is a group of house sparrows. I am not entirely sure, it is a large group of a dozen or so individuals, who have built a selection of nests alongside the robin's nest. The passion flower bush that they are in is unfortunatly obstructing the view so I can't tell for certain what is going on in there.

Sitting outside and just watching the birds as they fly around, it is amazing just how much life there is in the garden. Literally dozens of birds seem to have made the garden and surrounding bushes their home. It is an wonderful site. I hope as the garden continues to develope then more will make their home there and as I move towards having a patio with a bench on it I can look forward to whiling away the hours watching the birds coming and going.

August 2008

30th August 2008

Today has been one of those rare occasions where it was sunny and calm. I was able to spend much of the afternoon enjoying the garden, watching the birds, listening to the breeze in the leaves, admiring the apples. All in all a very pleasant day, and to top it all off, while sat there a small robin came to say hi. He was feeding on some of the blackberries and insects in the hedges bordering the garden. To sit and watch such a beautiful creature just made it all seem worth while.

It wasn't all just passive enjoyment, today we planted some bulbs. A mixture of snow drops, daffodils and mini dafs went in. Some went in the border beneath the apple tree cordon. Where hopefully they will come up in spring amoungst the bark chippings and add to the display of colour the apple blossom gives. Some were planted in the wooden planters with the cider apples in. A nice collection went in there. Finally a small number of dafs and snow drops went into a round pot with 5 dark purple tulips. This is then sited on the corner of the house near the black currants. Hopefully, by having the three together we should get colour from Febuary till the end of May.

15th August 2008

It's been a rather long time since I updated, I have been so busy with the garden and work and just generally living, that I haven't updated here for far far to long.

The garden has come on leaps and bounds. I have managed this year to actually get food from the garden. The 9 remaining blackcurrants bushes produced less than a pound of blackcurrants, which with a small amount of culinary alchemy we converted into a single jar of blackcurrant jam. However at that point the preserving bug hit. We found a small PYO place about 4 miles outside Canterbury where we got another 6lb of black currants, with these we made a further 11 jars of blackcurrant jam. We also picked some red currants which we turned into two jars of red currant jam, which we are hoping to keep till christmas to accumpany turkey! While on the look out for affordable sources of fruit the wild blackberries have been a great source, on just a single 10 yard stretch of route 1 of the national cycle network, we picked about 3lb of blackberries. These we have turned into 5 jars of blackberry jelly.

Dissappointedly on the fruit front the 10 raspberry canes have gone missing without trace. I was also rather piturbed in June to find about half of the apples on the tree's dropped off. However abit of research shows that this is a normal "june drop" and is actually good, as it thins the crop out so that what remains grow to a larger size and lasts longer. I have been asked by a number of sources about growing apples in containers, so I decided to write a small article about it, which you can find here.

With the impending harvest I decided to treat myself to a book on preserving. I decided to go with "River cottage handbook number 2: Preserves" (see link to the right) which is full of useful information and interesting recipes. Using produce from my fiance's allotment we have made pickled runner beans, nasturtum capers, and a seasonal chutney. We have also made several jars of pickled beetroot. Tho using the beetroot from the allotment rather than from my garden. It seems that my 0% germination rate in the garden wasn't quite so. Lots germinated. The slugs just ate them all!

Slugs were always going to be the main pest in the garden, and early on I lost 24 lettuce plants in two nights to the blasted things. I decided to try a biological control technique called nemaslug. Which is made of paracitic nematode worms which kill the slugs. After using it, my conclusion is: Useless!. In the hope of getting some semblance of a crop in what was left of the summer I had to resort to the slug pellets. I was not happy doing so, but it was the only way, hopefully I can find a slightly nicer way for next year.

Despite the slugs best efforts to starve me (and to kill me when I slipped on one in the dark), I have managed to have a few meals form the garden this year. The early spuds we planted have done great and we have managed to eat most of them, the remainder will be next weeks food. They tasted really good and I am very pleased with them. Of the brassicas I planted in April, one plant survived, a broccoli, which I was rather surprised to find ready for harvest at the start of august. I had expected them to be something that would over winter for harvest during "the hungry gap" around febuary march, not be ready in mid summer. On the plus side it tasted really nice. Shame it is the only one of the 40 I planted that survived.

Despite a very concerted effort to kill the strawberry plants (I went away for 6 weeks and forgot to get someone to water them), they have sprouted again and are showing a good display of proto fruit which hopefully will develop into something I can eat. I am amazed at their resilience, despite minimal effort to water them and care for them they are still alive! Same is true of the tomatoes, who are showing a nice display of green tomatoes, tho none are ripe yet. Time will tell

And finally, the biggest change in the garden this year is the appearance of my new lawn. In April I gave up on the idea of trying to seed a wild flower meadow, after the attempt else where in the garden failed, and went and bought some turf. Careful measurements and calculations showed that I needed 15 square yards of turf. As per normal reality and maths did not agree, and I was left with 6 spare after completeing the turfing. Thankfully Wyevale where I got it from refunded me the 6 I didn't use, which I was both amazed at and pleased with. After 6 weeks away the new lawn had reached nearly 10inchs high which I was also amazed at. I purchased a strimmer to cut it with, reasoning that anything else would be over kill. Well the strimmer was rather crap, and managed to vibrate itself to death. I took it back 4 hours after I bought it for a full refund. I then went across the street and bought a pair of shears. Slightly slower and abit more labour intensive, but it would appear to be the most cost effective way of cutting such a small lawn.

The lawn has been a very welcome addition to the garden and has allowed me to spend a few afternoons laying on the long grass watching the birdies. Times, which make the whole thing seem worth while. Thats enough of an update for now. More later

March 2008

24th March 2008

Well the weather seems abit screwed right now. From snow, to beautiful spring weather in about ten minutes. Weird. Today was a reasonably productive day. Dug over round the appple trees, and removed as many of the brambles as I could. Then made a sort of deviding wall with bits of log, and filled the space with bark chippings. Looks quite good now. Did the same to some of the black currants, tho ran out of bark chippings, and didn't use the log edging. Interestingly I appear to have driven a digger over one of the blackcurrants, resulting in it being at an angle of 24 degrees and partly buried. However, it appears to be the first of the blackcurrants to be showing signs of growth. Looks like it doesn't mind the abuse. Have taken some photos, which I will upload soon.

Edit:Have uploaded the photos to here

23rd March 2008 (Easter Sunday)

The past few days has seen quite a lot of progress on the veggie plot. Started by building a small breezeblock stand for the irrigation tanks. This has raised them slightly of the ground so I can get a bucket under the tap. Also I packed the spaces with bits of old log and dead wood, hopefully should provide a nice home for bugs and the like.

Took some of the remaining waste to the tip, there is still about one bag of off cuttings that needs to goto the dump, then I should be mostly clear. The garden is alot lighter and spacious with most of the junk gone.

Today we marked out the various parts of the veg patch with string and pegs. Then dug 1/5th of the plot over. This we then planted potatoes in. Two types, an early and a main crop, 12 and 15 of each respectively. Feels good to finally be planting things! Also planted the replacement crown of rhubarb.

Talking of rhubarb, picked the first harvest of the year today. Rhubarb crumble for pudding tonight!

19th March 2008

A couple of hours today spent in the garden. Managed to clear all the spikey bushes from along the fence next to the veggie patch. Will take them to the tip tomorrow. Have emptied two of the water tanks ready to move them about and setup a proper irrigation system. Seriously considering hiring a rotavator for the day to go over the veggie plot. Its about 30 quid. But its very very tempting.

18th March 2008

One week after planting stuff on the window cill, I have two sunflowers that are about 2.5" tall. Several More that are sprouting. Two tomato plants that seem to be doing ok, one thats dead, and one that could use some TLC. The basil looks to be doing fine too. And the mint and oregano appear to be doing nothing. Yay!

11th March 2008

I have finally got the last fence post in. I started it on the 23rd September 2006, and said back then I reconned to have the fence up by 15th Ooctober 2006. Well I missed that deadline quite spectacularly. Infact thats a time over run of government IT project proportions. But finally, the last post is sat in the concrete waiting for it to set. Once its set, sometime this week, I will then fix the final panel in place. The garden will now be enclosed, and I can actually start to enjoy it! Yay!

I have also trimmed back some of the plants from various neighbours that are overhanging the garden giving me yet more stuff to add to the piles of dead trimmings. Think I need to run it all through the shredder and compost it.

10th March 2008

Planted some sun flowers in peat pots. Also planted some Oregano and Mint in pots on the window cill. Whilst in town I managed to get 8 plug plants, 4 basil, and 4 tomato for 3 quid, so those are now transplanted to bigger pots on the window cill too. Now to just wait for the rain to stop so I can get outside!

Febuary 2008

Its been a long time without attacking the garden. But a warm spring and some encouragement from the other half resulted in a few good days spent in the garden.

I have managed to repot all of the original 3 apple trees, I managed to get some old whiskey casks, quite cheap which are ideal. I also repotted the Fuschia that will not die and the oak tree into the Terracotta pots freed up from the apples. The Sunset apple that I got last year that didn't last the summer has been replaced, Keepers sent me a replacement free of charge. I was rather impressed. All of the apple tree's are now showing signs of life, with the tips of buds starting to shoot. Which is good.

The small containers I had on the shed roof full of bulbs last year have flowered already, which surprised me as they are just dumped in a pile in a corner! However no sign so far from the bluebells, wood anemone, or snowdrops I planted last autumn. Which is slightly annoying.

In novemeber I planted some of meadow mix seeds from MAS which looks to be shooting. The there are a few weeds mixed in which I need to do something about.

Somewhere along the line one of my rhubarb plants appears to have dissappeared. Not sure how but its not in the ground where it should be. The other 5 tho are shooting nicely. I covered them in a layer of bark chippings to hopefully supress the weeds abit. Seems to have worked, for now. I will do the same to the Black currants when I have a car to get some chips with.

In the Autumn having cleared the rubble and junk from what should become the veggy patch, I covered the area in grazing rye as a green manure. This has grown well and is now ready to be dug in. A task for this week I think.

Finally the fence. I am just one panel short of completing the fence! Finally, its taken over a year to do, but I should soon have the fence along the full length of the garden, at which point I an start to use the garden as somewhere to relax, as well as work. I seem to have made one minor calculation error, and ended up one panel short tho, which I will need to get once the post is fixed in. Finally it looks like the garden is reaching a sensible state!

September 2007

30th September 2007

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25th September 2007

Tomorrow I should be having a 1.5 ton digger craned into the garden. This is with the hope of using the next week to dig the whole garden to a depth of about 2 ft, remove *ALL* the large rocks, and then put the soil back in some sort of state where I can actually grow something other than weeds.

Before I can get the crane to deliver the digger into the garden, I first had to move atleast one of the bags of sand. Moving half a ton of sand by spade and barrow is *NOT* fun. We have now managed to get enough space for the digger to be dropped in. I wonder if I can use the digger to move the last bag of sand, or atleast to dig it out of the bag into a barrow. Taking out atleast 50% of the effort.

Having dug the garden I will be left with the interesting task of removing all the waste. Not sure how best to do that. A skip is going to be very expensive. As is using the bag things I have. Going to the tip isn't really an option as I don't have a car, and any van I hire wont be allowed in. I am pondering a grab lorry, but need to work it out more first.

Oh, and of course the weather forcast for the week I have the digger is: Rain, rain, oh, and rain. Urgh!

August 2007

23rd August 2007

Summer has been very busy and I have unfortunately been unable to spend as much time in the garden as I had hoped. The heavy rains have entirely negated the need for the water I filled the tanks with earlier in the summer, and have encouraged rampant growth of alot of plants. This has resulted in a jungle of plants, ranging from the unwanted weeds, to intended poppies. I have infact managed to get in areas, a wild flower meadow, I just haven't actually got around to planting any of the seed I got!

A few other surprises have occured, I have a surprise crop of wheat growing in one of the apple plants. The rhubarb has taken a surprise liking to where it is planted, growing to over 3 ft tall. This has resulted in a rather nice rhubarb crumble. I have also managed to have 2 crops of black currants. Not lots, but enough for one person both times. I also got two raspberries. Biggest surprise of all tho has to goto the fuscia.

Last winter I tried to take some cuttings of the fuscia that I was soon to remove, as I didn't want to kill it entirely. These cuttings failed, miserably. I hought all was lost, having removed the main plant. However, whilst tidying some of the weeds recently I found another shoot of fuscia, in flower, and growing not to distant from where I removed the last one. So I potted it up and placed it in a container. I thought this would be it for the fuscia. One successful cutting, if not quite the original intended route. A few weeks after this, I found in the same place, not one, but 3 more fuscias growing. I will pot these up in due order too. It's certainly been a pleasant surprise to find them.

I have however come to the conclusion that to get my garden tamed abit, will need drastic action. And so I shall be hiring a digger at somepoint this autumn, and using it to clear the garden, level it, and remove as much of the large rocks as I can. I just need to find the time to reserve a week for this.

With the apple trees tho, one of them has not taken to its new home and is now just a dormant twig. Fortunatly the nursery have said they will send out a replacement this autumn which is nice. one of the tree's from last year has also developed what is looking like a reasonable crop of apples. Tho how many survive to harvest remains to be seen. They were so dence tho, I did have to thin them out abit in places.

Finally the best surprise so far is the oak tree. Now over a foot tall, it has a full head of leaves, and seems to be growing nicely. When it loses its leaves this winter, I will transplant it into a bigger pot. Reading up abit on it, if I don't kill it, this Oak has the potential for a 1000 year life. Kinda scary really.

May 2007

28th May 2007

Having had 3 450L water tanks sat in my garden since last year. I finally got around to plumbing one of them into one of the downpipes from the roof. I was pleased to see water flowing through the system in this weeks rain and flowing into the tank. We appeared tho to get more rain than I had expected, the first tank filled up in a matter of hours. And the plumbing currently doesn't have either a system to stop flow, or an overflow. Ooops. Queue one midnight session to move a second (then a third) tank into the right area and hastily move the plumbing. It seems that todays rain was enough to fill about 2 tanks fully. Seems I need to rethink how I am going to do the plumbing. Think I need a shutoff valve when they fill up so that when full they divert water into the guttering.

Ah well, looks like I am not going to be short for water for the plants for a few weeks.

22nd May 2007

Not written down much of whats been going on the past month or so. Spring and then Summer hit the garden in rapid succession, all the trees have blossomed, and all the blackcurrants have got leaves, and in many cases flowers. The blossom has now passed on the apple trees and signs of fruit are beginning to show. Worryingly tho, one of the trees, the Sunset mini cordon has very minimal growth and looks to be trying very hard to die. Also worrying is that I appear to be missing a rhubarb plant. They all started growing fine, but one has dissappeared, in that I can't even find it when I tried to dig down, and one of the others is a bit wimpy. The other 4 are showing very strong growth tho which is equally encouraging.

Finally the raspberries. Well, they seem to be largely a failure. Of the 9 plants I planted, less than half are showing any signs of growth atall, the other 5 just sticks in the ground. I think I may have to consider them largely a failure and wait till the autumn to plant some more.

The veggie patch is largely to be considered a failure at this stage, I haven't managed to get it ready to plant this spring, and now it is a losing battle trying to keep it weed free. I am tempted to cover it in black plastic for the summer in the hope of killing anything thats growing on it, and then starting from scratch again come autumn. We took some weeds out in other areas of the garden which made quite a difference, but It is worrying just how quick the weeds did colonise the garden. Needs attention this week. Anyway, thats enough for now. More updates soon.

March 2007

28th March 2007

Have finally got every thing I ordered in the way of fruit and the like planted. The Raspberries were the last to go in today. They didn't take up quite as much space as I had hoped. This is both good from the point of view as I had less ground to prepare, and bad as I now need to work out what to fill it with.

The Rhubarb are all above the surface now and busily forming leaves. One of them has got as far as two storks and two leaves about 3-4" across.

All the apple tree's are starting to show signs of life to a lesser or greater degree. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will start to see blossom and leaves forming on them all.

Of all that I have planted so far, the black currants are showing the least in the way of signs of life. I am hoping they are just slow starting and will pick up in the next week or so.

This weekend I hope to start off most of the veg in doors ready for planting out in a few weeks. I have left some of it abit late. But I hope a week or so wont make to much difference. I still haven't dug over the vegetable patch ready to plant stuff there. Will see if I can get that sorted in the next week or so.

6th March 2007

Finally got the rest of the apple trees planted. Didn't take to long, but was made slightly harder by finding a rather large lump of concrete where I wanted one of the trees to go. This removed, things went along nicely. I also took this as a chance to take some photos. In order we have: the two cider apple trees, in their containers, on the small paved area where the bin/compost will go. View down the garden from the gate, and again showing the sky in a better light. Then a picture of the rhubarb poking through the surface. View up the garden from the other end, showing the area which has been cleared, and the area being dug for the rhaspberrys. Next up, 2 pics of the other apple trees planted as a mini cordon. Finally, a view of the area where the vegi patch will soon reside.

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3rd March 2007

Rain stopped play half way through getting the 5 mini cordon apple tree's in. We had got as far as banging the stakes in and running some of the wire between them. Will finish that tomorrow. Now to try and dry off abit.

I have also ordered all the veg, herb and grass seeds from Meadow Mania. Hopefully they will arrive this week. I will start the seedlings off in trays, before planting out. I also managed to get a small bag of maris piper seed potatoes in B&Q for 50p, which fits into the bargain of the week catagory!

Note: For the pedantic amoungst you, I am starting the veg and herbs off in seed trays, *NOT* the grass.

1st March 2007

Second tree in a planter planted. That leaves the 5 on m27, 6 black currants, the rhaspberrys and one rhubarb to plant. The ground isn't ready for rhaspberryes atall. I should be able to get the other apple trees in tomorrow tho.

Febuary 2007

28th Febuary 2007

With the help of a friend today I managed to get the support stakes needed for my trees, the final bits of wood needed for the containers and the compost, and also plant stuff. So far have planted one of the container based apple trees (on M111 rootstock), 5 Rhubarb, and 4 of the Blackcurrants.

Digging the hole for the rhubarb I discovered just how discustingly horrible the ground is about 1ft down. Removed a large wheel barrow load of slabs and bits of concrete. Making enough space for the raspberries will be interesting. I may just raise the ground level up by a foot, rather than trying to dig down another foot. Not sure yet. See how I get on tomorrow.

27th Febuary 2007

The trees and soft fruit I ordered in september has arrived! HURRAH! I have also chopped the wood for the first of the two containers that I am making for the big (M111 root stock) tree's. Rain unfortunately stopped play, normally rain doesn't bother me, but when using a non outdoor rated power tool, rain can cause fun and games I don't want right now. So I will do that half tomorrow. Shouldn't take to long.

Even tho the tree's have arrived I still need to do some ground work before I can plant the raspberry's. This is a slight pain, but they have a predicted life of 10+ years, so I want to get it right first time.

21st Febuary 2007

Completed the 9 slabs in the corner by the bin/compost today. They aren't the greatest work of paving ever, but they will do for now, and mean I can put a compost together there. It looks like the raspberry plot is going to be a right PITA to get together, but that is my plan for next week. Hopefully next week I should also take delivery of all the apple trees and other fruit plants I ordered. This should be a great boost to the garden, to actually have plants in it!

18th Febuary 2007

Well with a nice long weekend of work out in the garden nearly all the unwanted trees and bushes are gone, most have been burned with a few now condensed to 3 large yellow bags. The area for the black currents and the apple trees has been dug over ready. The Raspberry area has been dug down to 6inches of depth but all I find is a large amount of rubble, this doesn't bode well. Under part of the vegetable patch we found a large block of concrete, about 2ft by 2ft by 8inches. This gave to a few hefty smacks with a hammer, revealing underneath a small skelton for some animal, presumably a dog or similiar. We left this and some of the block to be excevated another day.

Today we managed to lay 5 of the 9 slabs for the compost heaps and the bins. This was hard work as the slabs I am using are those left behind from a previousl path that was in the garden, they are 2ft square and very heavy, requiring 4 people to lift easily, hopefully I can get the rest done this week and can then start building a compost heap.

All in all the place is still a building site, but its getting there and I seem to be on the down hill stretch.

15th Febuary 2007

With Mikes help the remnants of the trees has now been reduced to a smouldering pile of ash. This simplifies alot the removal of things. This said, there is still alot of leaf matter left over from the trees which will require raking up into a pile and then binning. This weekend we have planned a day spent blitzing the garden getting it in a final state where things can be planted in it.

In autumn I brought a pack of "Asda Smart price bulbs". 150 Bulbs for a fiver, mainly as I was curious as to what would happen, much like when I bought a pack of asda smart price "Shades of red" seeds to see what would happen. I hadn't planted them and recently discovered they were sprouting in their packaging, so today I planted them in a couple of planters, that will probably end up on the roof of the shed. Dunno what will happen with them, but ultimately they was cheap and might add some colour for a few weeks.

3rd Febuary 2007

Another controlled burn today saw the end of another 6ft pile of tree. I also cleared a large area of garden. Recovered 9 Paving slabs which had got buried under all the tree and spoil from the fence posts. These will become the paved area in the corner by the bin/compost. I will lay these this week once I have got the area leveled off nicely. Really feels like I am getting somewhere and everything feels less dawnting.

January 2007

31st January 2007

Today I decided that the best way to clear some of the largest bits of tree was quite simply to burn them in a controlled manner. So, did so. In a relatively small fire pit I burnt through a pile of tree about 6ft tall, reducing it to a 6" pile of ash. Very Satisfying.

30th January 2007

I finally filled in the whole I had dug for round the loose fence post. It took 3 barrow loads of concrete to fill it, but I think this should do the job of keeping the fence up perfectly. I also converted a large amount of dead tree, into a small amount of smouldering ash. The garden is actually looking much much better, it doesn't seem quite such a mountainous task to complete. Hurrah!

29th January 2007

The mammoth task of removing dead tree bits from the garden leaped forward today, 6 large sacks (each sack 1yr on a side!) went to the tip. The amount remaining is now just a very small amount of what there was, it almost seems bearable. I have about one month left to get things sorted ready for the arrival of the new trees. Shouldn't be to hard now.

21st January 2007

My plan to be very productive today, finishing the foundation for the dodgy post, and tidying up some of the bits of tree, was well and truelly thwarted by waking up very very late. Instead I was only able to do the tidying up bit, filling a large bag full of bits of tree. Looks like I will need atleast 2, maybe more of those bags to get all of the bits of tree up and out the way. Then just comes the more difficult job of getting them to the tip. I also took some cuttings from the fuschia that was here when I moved in, it is quite a large bush, and looks very pretty when in flower, but it is right in the middle of where the veg patch will go, its also to big for the garden. So I am taking cuttings in the hope that atleast 1 will carry on, and I can keep this in a container on the patio without it getting to big. I have never taken cuttings before, so hope what I did will work.

20th January 2007

New year, illness and tax returns have kept me out of the garden so far, but today I took the oppotunity of a break in the storm see if I could shore up the fence abit. The short length of fencing was blowing about wildly in the storm, and the two braces I put out before xmas got blown down, the fence did stay up. Today I dug the foundations out abit more for that post, and put the fence up on bricks to the right height. My next task (tomorrow) is to dig it just abit deaper and fill it with lots of concrete. It seems I grossly under estimated the amount of concrete needed for each post in the beginning. I also now have about one month to get the garden ready for the trees which will be arriving last week of febuary.

December 2006

28th December 2006

A very productive day. I have put up the last fence panel that I had in the shed, this time learning from mistakes and putting in a very big foundation, a whole 18" x 12" x 18", which with a fence spike through the middle, should keep that panel from falling over. The concrete on this one is also much neater, which is good. I think this post lays slap bang in the middle of the patio, according to the plan.

We also filled one of the previously mentioned big bags full of bits of tree. If nothign else it tidies them up abit till I can sort out a way of getting them to the tip. I did however mis judge abit by only getting two, we filled one and hardly made much of a dent on the pile of branches. So next time I am out that way, think It may make sense to grab another one, or two. In the process of filling this bag, I dug out some of the slabs of the original path of the garden, buried about 6 inches down. Its not going to be simple to extract all of them, but hopefully I can do so soonish, so I can start on the hard standing area by the gate where the bins and compost heap are going to go. All in all, much productiveness today, and much much more needed still. But, getting there. Slowly.

16th December 2006

Well the post in the middle of the short bit of fence is very loose, the rain has washed alot of the soil away and there just isn't enough concrete to hold it from wobbling, alot. So I have put two supports in at an angle to keep it from blowing down completely. Once the weather calms down abit, I will have to improve its foundation abit.

9th December 2006

This week we had some very strong winds and quite a high level of rainfall, and it has left a mark on the garden. The rain has washed alot of the soil away from the foundations of one of the fence posts, meaning that the post sways alot in the wind. A couple of the others are showing signs of a similiar fate. So I think I will have to go out there later with some cement, some wire, and some inginuity and see if I can effect a shoring up of the fencing.

4th December 2006

It was driving me nuts buying feed in 1kg bags as the birds seem to get through a bag every 4-5 days. So, I now have a 10kg box from B&Q. Lets see how long this lasts.

November 2006

22nd November 2006

Got an email from the nursery I am ordering the trees/fruit bushes from. They beleive that delivery for my plants will be week of 26th of Febuary. Looks like I have a fixed deadline to get things ready for!

20th November 2006

I returned home from town today to find a decent size flock of birds in and around the area of the bird feeders. Wandering closer I realised that the seed feeder was empty, again. I only filled it up on saturday! I think I need to find a cheaper sauce of bird food. I also found a bag of sunflower seeds in the lounge I had forgot I bought. I will stick these up soon bringing the total number of feeders to 4.

18th November 2006 - pt 2

Female Chaffinch departing a seed feeder

Small bird leaving the seed feeder.

A Thrush about to feed on peanuts

A Thrush about to feed on the peanuts.

Following from the work of this morning in the garden, I decided to have breakfast in town. Just as I was coming out my front door I noticed a bird feeding on the feeder for the first time, and a whole flock of birds sitting in a nearby bush singing. I quickly shot back in doors and grabbed my camera and took a few photos of the birds in action. The following 4 photos are just some of those I took. I suppose I should get a book for ID'ing British birds so I can give more useful names than just "small bird".

Edit:Based on some research and some advice from others, I am reaching the conclusion the little bird is infact a female Chaffinch.

18th November 2006 - pt 1

Went out today to find the fat ball and the seed feeder both empty, so replaced them. It seems the rate of consumption has increased the last couple of days.

Todays main task was to get another fence panel up, and with Dan's help again, I now have the panel up. It is the last of the large 6 foot tall panels I had in the shed, leaving one half height one. However, looking at the garden, I still have space for 2 more panels worth of fencing, looking in the garage I have enough posts for 2 more panels. So I don't know what happened purchasing wise. Looks like I will have to find away to get another panel back from the store.

The Concrete for the post mixed today is by far the best and neatest that I have produced. I think this is helped by the fact the hole was dug bigger (twice as big), and the mix was wetter making it easier to deal with. I will bare this in mind for next 2 panels worth.

Digging the hole today, I came up against, not just a half brick, but a whole brick burried about 4 inches down, this along with the usual collection of large stones. I worry about what other debry I am likely to find when I dig the foundation for the patio. If what I have found so far is anything to go by, its not going to be pleasant!

17th November 2006

The rate of consumption on the bird feeders has slowed down alot in the last 10 days or so. Before, the birds were getting through a fat ball ever day, and half a feeder full of seed. The more seasonal cold weather has meant that the fat ball has lasted almost a week, and the seed feeder has taken a week to empty. In a way, this is good, as it means I don't have to keep topping it all up, but it also means that there are less birds visiting the garden. I hope this is cos they have finally seen sense and flown south, rather than snuffed it cos its so cold.

Female Chaffinch feeding on a seed feeder

Small bird feeding on the seed feeder.

Starling feeding on a fatball

Starling feeding on the fatball.

Later today I hope to finish off the digging of the holes for the fence panels, and clear some more of the leyllandi. A local company has started offering a service where by they distribute large rubble sacks like those sand is delivered in, which you can fill up and they then come collect for for a fee. The collection is 40 quid a bag, but the bags are free. Which makes them a handy place to store all the tree bits till I can get them to the tip. And if I suddenly become very rich before the bag is empty, I can pay the 40 quid and be rid of the contents.

I realised that I needed to do something about illuminating the garden, especially the end near the bins/compost heap, as I have to go put the bins out late at night, and doing that in the dark isn't always wise. Fortunately Screwfix sell a smallish 150watt exterior flood light for under a fiver, so that and a length of cable from wilko, I now have the kit to install some basic lighting. What this also brough to my attention, is that I totally forgot to include electrics into my garden design. So I am now putting thought into how best to provision the garden with power.

Living in a flat, it is not overly simple to just stick a cable out the window when I need one, nor is it simply a case of a few exterior grade power sockets fitted outside. So it looks like I will need to put some serious thought into this one. Maybe dad can make some suggestions when he comes down next week.

4th November 2006

Well, one more fence panel is up. Yay. I noticed tho that one of the first ones I put up, the rain has washed some of the soil away from round the concrete, so its abit wobbly. This shouldn't be a major issue, once I have all the fence up I will go round and reinforce all the foundations of the posts.

With the extra fence post real estate I also put up some more bird food. I now have a feeder with wild bird seed in it, a bag of peanuts, and a hook with 3 fat balls. I haven't yet seen any birds feeding, but the food is dissappearing nicely, and I walked out to see one of the feeders swinging wildly like it had just been used and the bird had flown off in a hurry, probably by the sound of me at the door.

Two more fence panels to go, one big one, and one small one with a trelace on it. Shouldn't take much longer now.

2nd November 2006

Not an awful lot has happened since my last update, work commitments have kept me largely out of the garden. However I just nipped out to put the bags out for recycling, when I noticed the bird feeder I put up just a matter of weeks ago, was empty. This is pleasing, for whilst I have not been able to watch the birds feeding from it, I can atleast be reasonably sure they are using it. Yay! I have now topped it up and hung a fat ball there as well. If I can get another fence panel up in the next week or so, I will stick another feeder up there too.

October 2006

14th October 2006

After a thoroughly knackering day in the garden, I now have two more panels put up, including, the small one in the corner by the wall, which had to be cut to size. Digging down to put the spike in for the other one, we found the foundations from the wall next door. This was a pain, and after various ideas, decided to wimp out, and cut 5 inches off the spike to make it the right length to fit in. Mixed up a barrow load of cement, and concreted it in nicely. Now to wait 3 days for the cement to set before I remove the support and start on the next panel. Also managed to take a boot load of crap to the dump, meaning I now have alot less junk in the garden. Still quite alot, but getting there slowly. Now tho, time for a well earned lay down before pub.

13th October 2006

Well, october has by and large greeted us with wind, rain and cold. The sheer level of rain has made me realise 2 things. One, my gutters need some servicing and two, I wish I had the water tanks plumbed in already. However I am relatively certain that there will be plenty more rain in the coming months, so all is good. However, the rain has pretty much halted work on the fencing. This weekend I am planning on clearing the large pile of tree debry left over from removing the leylandii. And if I have time, dig out the holes for the fence posts that remain.

Today I did manage to get time to put up a bird feeder with some seeds, aimed at smaller birds. I also have a couple other types of bird feeders, which I will put up on the fence as I progress along the garden. It has also become apparent that there is something else that believes the garden to be their teratory. On top of one of the spoil piles, what I presume to be a fox, has left a large poo, marking it. This is encouraging, I am thinking of making a small whole in each end of the fence, big enough for a cat/fox/badger/small mammals, but to small for a human. This means they too, can visit the garden.

September 2006

30th September 2006

A surprisingly warm september saturday was originaly going to be a long day spent in the garden. Well, first I over slept, Then woke up feeling crap. So the day in the garden has turned into about an hour in the garden. During which time I have managed to excevate the holes for two more posts, mostly. The ground is alot more stony in this area than previously thought, which makes using a spade hard work, and so I was resorted to hands and knees, using a trowl, and in places, just my hands. Work is slow. I was pulling out hand fulls of small rubble and large flint. Looks like before I get anywhere growing anything here, I am going to have to go over the soil with a fine tooth comb. I removed the braces holding up the fence posts I have put up so far. Generally they have gone in well, and are strong. The middle post tho needs abit of reinforcement, it seems even with the concrete block on the bottom, its got alot of wiggle to it. I need to work out how best to rectifie this.

Lets hope I feel better and more productive tomorrow

27th September 2006

I have finally uploaded the photos I took on Monday. Here they are:

Garden Photo Garden Photo Garden Photo Garden Photo Garden Photo Garden Photo

26th September 2006

With the help of Dan I now have a 3rd fence panel up. I also have a sore arm from mixing concrete. The posts I put in the other day are relatively stable. I may need to brace a couple of the posts along the long length, just for that bit of paranoia, I can easily cover it with a climbing plant of some kind. 5 more Panels to go on the long stretch, and then one small one on the short bit. Ideally I want to have everything up by the 15th of October, which shouldn't be to hard. More soon.

24th September 2006

The concrete on the fence posts seems to have hardened and set nicely, even with the last 2 days additional rain. The cardboard cofferdam's I used to keep the cement in the right form have worked well. The only down side is that they appear to have now decintergrated all over the shop now its got wet, and in some places adhered to the cement. Not a major issue, just a minor "Doh" moment.

Heron stepping over Tango bottle

A Heron in one of the ponds in Regents Park, London, stepping over a discarded tango bottle. This is a good example of human abuse of the environment, and an image which conveys an important message, that we need to take more care of the world around us and respect other animals more.

Reviewing the plans for the garden this evening I realised that whilst I have a large emphasis on food stuffs in the garden plan, I haven't really full thought through the wildlife side of things. A bit of googling and some thought on prior knowledge, I have decided I am going to use the pond as a wildlife pond, aiming to attract as much as I can in the way of native wildlife. Especially things like frogs and toads, as these will eat slugs. I would like to see newts joining the party, I used to have a small family of newts in my pond as a kid (yes I had a pond in the garden as a kid) except the off spring all got eaten by the fish. Based on this, it means I wont have fish in my pond, unless I can find some suitable native species that wont devistate the amphibians, but may perhaps feed on things like the mossies. I am going to talk to the friendly local ecologist and see what they can recommend as native plants to stick in the pond. As well as the habbitat in the pond, I think I will leave a pile of the old logs from the trees I took out to provide cover and shelter for small animals.

As well as the wildlife pond plan, I am thinking of making the grass area in the corner between patio and veg patch into a sort of wild flower meadow bit. But this will need some more thought, again will seek advice from friendly local ecologist.

Robin on park bench

A Robin I saw sat on a bench in Regents Park, London. He was very tame, and I was able to get pretty close and take this photo before he flew off

And finally, I have realised I forgot about bird nesting boxes. When I was very small (as in <10 years old) I built a small nesting box from wood, and put it up in the garden, on a fence out of reach of the cats. To my utter delight, not long after, it became home to a small family of blue tits. To this day, that nesting box has been occupied every year. That original box has also been joined in my Dad's garden by atleast 2 others. However for my new Garden, I want to attract more than just blue tits. So I am thinking of atleast 3 nesting boxes in the garden. One on the fence near the compost heaps and rhubarb. One on the long fence by the patio, and one round the other corner by the patio. What ones to go for, I will seek advice on too. But I am thinking one for the small birds, blue tits etc..., one open front one for things like Robins, Wrens etc... And one large multipart one for sparrows. I also intend on putting out a bird table/feeders in the garden somewhere. Not entirely sure where.

All in all the garden plan wont change that much really, just more of a friendly environment for the smaller inhabitants of the garden.

23rd September 2006

Today has been a very productive day, I now have 2 full fence panels up in the garden. They are the two in the corner, at 90 degrees to each other, providing a nice bit of structural strength to the fence. Each post is concreted in nicely too. Getting them in was quite a bitch, a few of the small bushes were still in place, including one which was harder to get out than some of the leyllandi. Found alot of small rubble in the soil, but am slowly working it out. Underneath, the soil is good quality and should be good for growing in. Also while clearing space for the panel, we found 2 frogs, 2 ants nests, and enough snails to feed northern France for a month or two. So many critters in a garden is usally a good sign. Over the next week I hope to get a few more panels up. For now, I need food. To the chip shop!

22nd September 2006

Tomorrows plan is to get up early and spend the day putting fencing up in the garden. I want to get atleast one panel up (and the corresponding 2 posts) and the cement drying. Once I get the first up, I can then put each of the next ones up as the cement on the previous ones sets. Gonna take a while, but should get there in the end!

16th September 2006

Its been a productive day. Have sawn up 14 stumps into manageble lumps and taken them to the dump, leaving just a few for a fire in november. We also took to the dump part of the shitty old temp fence that was left over. The result is that the garden is slightly clearer, and I can now get on with putting the fencing up. Finally.

I have also managed to appropriate to LARGE water tanks (think about 450l each) which are going to be put under the patio, to store rain water to water the garden. Plumbing them in should be fun!

The plan for the garden is starting to converge nicely, and is currently at MK8.5e. This image is the basics of the plan. Sorry if the text isn't very readable. But it gives you an idea. Each of the orange bars is 10 foot in length on the scale. Now to actually get it there.

Garden Layout

15th September 2006

I have finally ordered the fruit trees and bushes for the garden, to be delivered in Febuary, giving me a relatively hard limit on when to have it all ready by. I ordered:

  • 1 - Harry Masters Jersey MM111
  • 1 - Michelin MM111
  • 1 - Bramley's Seedling M27
  • 1 - Elstar M27
  • 1 - Greensleeves M27
  • 1 - James Grieve M27
  • 1 - Sunset M27
  • 6 - Timperley Early - Rhubarb
  • 1 - Polka Bundle of 10 - Raspberry
  • 10 - Ben Sarek - Blackcurrent

The first 2 apple tree's are cider apples, and are on semi vigorous root stocks. I plan to put these in 2 foot diameter wooden planters, which will restrict them nicely. The next 5 are trained as mini-corden trees, and should grow to about 4ft tall. These are going to provide cover along one of the short sections of fencying. Providing a nice 4 ft tall wall of productivity, I hope. With this order it will bring to 10, the total number of trees in the garden. Giving me a nice range of eating, cooking, and cider apples.

The blackcurrents were chosen to provide a nice early crop, so I don't end up with a hughe crop of everything all at once. For this reason the Raspberry's were chosen to provide a late crop. The Rhubarb, well its rhubarb, practically indestructable, hopefully this one will give me a nice crop, throughout the year.

Now I just need to get the garden ready!

13th September 2006

Most of this summer has been spent removing the 19 large leylandii that were along the northern boundary, they were making the garden very dark, and swallowing 5 foot of space. This has left alot of large holes where the roots came out, and a pile of the removed vegetation. Hopefully this weekend I will have access to a chain saw and can reduce the logs to a size I can easier handle. This done I can then start putting the fence up on that side.

All the time this has been going on, I have had the 3 apple trees I put in in febuary growing nicely in their containers. In the spring they had the most beautiful blossoms, but alot got lost to the wind. A few small apples started to form on all three trees, but they too, became victims of the wind, leaving just one apple to form. This should be ready to harvest soon. This is a bonus, as I hadnt' expected these trees to be fruit producing till next year.

Another bonus I have had was some wheat. Last year I grew some wheat in a container in the garden, but it didn't work very well and I didn't bother harvesting it. This year however, the remains of last years wheat grew again in the container, and produced a half decent yield. This has been harvested and is currently sat in my room ready to be grown again. Simple things... :p

My plan now is to work steadily over the winter to get my garden ready to sew afresh in the spring. Hurrah!

Febuary 2006

4th Febuary 2006

Haven't done an awful lot for a while now. The containers I grew plants in the garden have lay dormant with the folliage all brown and largely dead. But spring is approaching soon so things are starting to need doing. And hopefully soon they shall.

So far tho the Apple trees I ordered in November arrived this week and this afternoon I planted them today. I ordered 3 trees:

  • Bramley Clone M20 - M9 Rootstock
  • Falstaff - M26 Rootstock
  • Reverend Wilks - M26 Rootstock

I ordered them all from Keepers Nursery who were very helpful. Each one is planted in an 18 inch container, staked. Now to see how they get on.

July 2005

20th July 2005

Popped past to stick some water on what I planted last week. Already the lettuce and some of the peas are poking through.

The Peas and beans on the patio are about 2 inches high now. When they get to 3 inches I shall plant them out on the area I cleared last week.

14th July 2005

Spent another few hours on the plot today. Managed to clear an area 3 times the size I did on tuesday. One of the other people who has an allotment has lent me his Hoe, its not your typical dutch hoe, but a real hoe. It massively upped my productivity. Much better tool. I planted some of the onions from the containers on the patio to the area I just cleared. I also have enough space for the peas and beans which are on the patio at the moment.

12th July 2005

Today I spent a about an hour working on my plot, trying to clear some of theweeds. Had a nice fire with some of the dried weeds from the strimmed off. I managed to clear an area about 5' x 8'. Which I planted with Lettuce and Parnsips, and a few Peas. I am not sure how great they will grow, but its worth a try. I am hoping to go up on thursday and dig the whole plot over as a deep bed, will then leave it a week before deciding what else to plant. I may leave a parts of it un weeded, but with much of the biig weeds removed to stop them seeding so that I don't suffer from leaching of the nutrients. Weeds seem as good a green manure at this stage as anything else.

11th July 2005

After checking a few sources about the white spots I found the following:

"Swollen Lenticels Lenticels are the small specks on the surface of the tubers. These specks are organs used by the plant to "breathe." When potatoes are subjected to soils that are saturated with water, the lenticels may swell as their function is impeded by the water. Swollen lenticels may appear as white bumps on the potato surface. This condition may reduce the storability of the potato by increasing susceptibility to soft rot." - From North Dakota State University website

So its nothing major to worry about. Yay. I ate the spuds that I had pulled, and very nice they were too. Hopefully the first of many

I have also managed to find a probable source for the cereal grains I wish to grow, and best of all, they are likely to be heritage grains from organic sources. Yay.

10th July 2005

For a few months I have had some containers on the patio outside my bedroom window. Today I harvested some of them as new potatoes. Here is a pic of the first batch of spuds:

Worryingly a couple of the spuds had weird white spots on them like this(Click for zoomed in version):

I also today planted some Peas and some French Beans in seed trays on the patio, once they have sprouted I shall plant them out on the allotment.

June 2005

26th June 2005

Much of the smaller weeds have been strimmed off at ground level, leaving just the larger weeds which the strimmer wont cut through. I am pondering if an Axe, a saw, or something else is the best way of attacking these.

23rd June 2005

I only got the plot on the 23rd. It is only half a plot right now, if I can clear this and manage ok, i may see if I can get another half plot. Currently the plot is covered in weeds and has a coupleof Blackberry bushes. The man who runs the allotment site has offered to strim off the weeds at ground level leaving just the blackberrys. There is already something resembling a compost heap, so will make use of that. As it will take so long to for the compost to become useful, I intend to burn most of the weeds and use the ash as fertiliser. Currently the plot has 2 pathes across it deviding it into 3 plus the small area between the compost and the blackberrys. Am not sure how I am going to pay it all out yet, Ideally I want 5 beds, plus a nursery bed. Will work it out once its clear, and I can measure it easily. I took some photos, but haven't downloaded them from the camera yet. Will upload them and add them later.

This page last modified Sunday, 06-Feb-2011 19:22:43 CET.