Recycling the old shed and raising the broad beans and raspberries

With the old shed down, I’m turning the space into productive raised beds for a range of fruit and vegetables.

A few weeks ago I got round to dismantling the rickety little old spare shed in the corner of my garden. This has opened my garden up somewhat – not just to more gardening space, but also to the view of the neighbours who back up to my garden.

The shed was full of rot, woodworm and ivy.

The fence at the bottom of my garden is my responsibility and appears to be the original 1950s galvanised metal fence. It’s in a fairly good condition, but has seemingly had a snip in the top supporting wire that will no doubt speed up its inevitable unraveled sag. However the inhabitance of the houses behind me (they were empty when I bought mine) makes me aware that now that the Blackberry brambles and ivy, and now the shed, have all gone – it’s all a bit exposed. I can sit in my lounge and have clear line of sight right into their houses 😮

I’ve decided to get some screening from my local garden centre – either Willow or Bamboo should do the job – giving me and both of them – some privacy in their gardens. They both have dogs, and I have a RubyCat, so this should also ease any tension there.

I had a rummage through the wood of the deconstructed shed and have pulled out some pretty solid planks, and have turned them into a couple of raised beds. I also took the door and a few other planks and turned them into shelving in the shed.

Two raised beds for growing fruit and veg
The old shed has been recycled into 2 raised beds.

I then put the rest of the shed into the boot of my car and took it to the timber section of my local recycling centre.

I’d already decided what’s going in the raised beds, and planted the first plants a few weeks ago. First up were  5 Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ bare-root plants that I bought from Bunkers Hill Garden Shop (via eBay), and after adding some freshly dug soil and a 125 litre bag of compost, I watered them in.

These raspberries should grow upwards, and become established here, so a raised bed at the bottom of the garden should be the perfect spot for them.. even if I’m fairly sure the blackbirds will get most of them!

Thankfully, at least some of the raspberries appear to be coming alive.

Raspberry 'Glen Ample' plants shooting out
New shoots from the bare-root Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ canes.

Next to those, but not in the raised bed, is my new Redcurrant ‘Rovada’ bush. Apparently this copes with partial shade, which is good because this is now planted in the corner of the garden where the sunshine reaches for a few hours a day. It’s budding up, but the leaves are yet to break out.

When the old shed stood here, I had success with Lettuce, and growing French Beans ‘Blue Lake’ up canes in this area. I shall be doing this again, and have now planted out my Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants, which I have been hardening off in the shed this last couple of weeks.

The raised bed contains a mixture of rotting leaves, multipurpose compost, coir compost, and some smelly compost from a council green garden waste centre.

Broad Bean 'Crimson Flowered' plants
The Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ plants are the first in the raised bed.

A couple of days ago I sowed the Lettuce ‘Red Salad Bowl’ seeds indoors, so I should have quite a few of these germinate. I’m growing this variety because I’m pretty sure they were the variety in a mixed leaf pack that the slugs and snails left alone. Fingers crossed!

The garden is really sticky at the moment – the weeks of snow, drizzle, and rain, has left everywhere (including my trainers) a bit squelchy. With a bit more sunshine it should start to make gardening a little easier.

I have plenty of pricking out and more seed sowing to do in the next few days. What are you up to in the garden? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy gardening!


The Shed Is Dead, Long Live The Shed

The older shed is now dead, leaving me with plenty of space to add raised beds and grow more veg.

I’ve done shed loads today. I spent the best part of 4 hours shedding myself of a shed, and fitting out my other shed.

When I looked around what was to become my new house in August/September last year, I made a mental note, that should I be successful in buying the house, then the little, rotting, rickety, second shed would need to come down.

The lounge window gave you prime viewing of the ugly deterioration of the shed. It had nothing more than a few inches scrap of torn roof felt on the roof – which seemed to be nothing more than a remnant of what once was, and no doubt a contributor to its demise.

The roof would be prime territory for fighting cats, and the shed was the perfect shield stopping me from removing those Blackberry brambles between myself and my neighbours.

In all the gales and storms we’ve had in late 2017 and 2018 – where I’ve laid in bed worried that my house roof would be ripped off – this damn shed wouldn’t budge. You could walk up to it and prod it with one finger and the whole thing would shake, but I think that it was mostly held together by the ivy and brambles.

So, this morning as I ate my breakfast and watched the sun begin to shine, I decided today was the day it went.

Here goes:

The shed was full of rot, woodworm and ivy. The larger, newer, more stable shed is on the right.




I now have a heap of planks, although many were rotten. I shall go through these in the next couple of weekends and see if there are any that are still firm. Those will be pieced together to form sides of raised beds in this area.

I cleared up the smaller bits of wood and put them in a box for a future trip to the dump, and smashed up and binned that brightly coloured plastic drawer frame that the previous owners abandoned (I kept the coloured drawers though).

The soil beneath the shed was bone dry, weedless, and easy to dig. However, no sooner had i removed the bramble stems and the ivy, than down came some hail storms.

I took this opportunity to make a cuppa, and headed into the remaining shed to do some tidying up, and to turn the old shed’s door into two sturdy shelves.

So, now with a tidy usable shed with storage space, and a demolished old shed, I’m ready to choose what will screen my garden from the neighbours adjoining me at the bottom of my garden (it’s currently an old wire fence), and then plan my raised beds.

I’m putting my feet up now, so thank you for reading, and as ever, happy gardening!


Planning the 2018 garden

I’m planning my 2018 garden. Always have a plan!

This April, it will be 1 year since I bought and moved in to this house.

During that time, I have broken a garden laid entirely to a tired lawn, moved fences, planted a hedge, and enjoyed a lot of homegrown vegetables and flowers.

Now that I’ve begun to understand my garden a bit, I’m creating my plan for 2018, based on what I’ve observed so far.

Above is my 2018 Google planner for the seeds that I want to sow this year – helping me to keep on track.


1. There’s a shady bit

Close to the fence, patio and house, there’s a shaded area which is also pretty heavy clay. The water sits here sometimes for a while, trying to escape the patio. My potted Ferns like this area, and I successfully transferred a few self-sown Foxgloves that had tried to make home in my garden pots that I moved with me from my previous house.

This part of the garden will be getting some Aquilegia ‘McKana Giants’ in 2018, which apparently enjoy more shaded moist conditions.

2. There’s an old shed

The old decrepit shed needs to be demolished, as it’s empty, somehow has stood the countless gales we’ve had with little more than an occasional door swing, and it’s taking up precious growing space. What it is doing though, is helping to provide some privacy between the bottom of my garden and the houses who back up to my fence. I’m thinking about having a new fence installed, but first I just need to take it down. I hope it’s not concrete under that!

3. More raised beds

Having demolished the old shed, then I’ll have space and a pile of wood from which I aim to make some more raised beds. This part of the garden fared really well for my French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ and my ‘sow-by-2012’ salad crops. It also gave me the occasional courgette, although these were the only ones grown in the ground (rather than a raised bed) so they were a bit slower. The new raised beds will fit in the old shed space.

4. Blackcurrants

I’ve bought a couple of Blackcurrant ‘Ribes Nigrum’ bushes. They’re just budding at the moment, but I hope to eventually get a crop from them in the next couple of years. I think these are also going near the shed footprint.

5. Birds

This morning, I participated in The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch with my independent adjudicator, RubyCat. The garden is busy this weekend – now that the snow, wind, and rain, gave everyone a few hours break. I noticed that there’s a reasonable range of bird life coming in, and so I hope that my B&Q birdbox (which incidentally split) will get its first use, and I hope the birds are enjoying the 4 bird feeders and the sunflower heads I left on. I’ll be growing more sunflowers for them and the bees.

6. Up

Last year I learned that Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ loves to crawl, climb, grab, grasp, and strangle. That was my first ever year of growing squashes, and they gave me plenty out of just one plant. This year, I need to make that plant go upwards, instead of letting is maraud its way over, through and around a 20ft radius of garden. I shall be looking for either a trellis, or an arch that will suit my needs.

Elsewhere in the garden, I also want to solve the issue I had last year with the reluctant Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ and Sweet Pea ‘Royal Mix’. They were happy to flower and grow where i’d planted them, but they refused to climb. I put it down to the climbing ‘frame’ being made of string rather than wire, and so I will swap my intricate string grid with wire, and see if I can finally persuade them and my new Honeysuckle ‘Lonicera’ to reach upwards and give me scent and blooms this summer.

Flower and vegetable seed packets
My seed packets are raring to be opened!

Right! My seed packets are all alphabetically filed in a new storage box, and ready to go… c’mon budge over Winter, let’s have some Spring!

What are you planning for your garden this year? Are you trying anything ‘new’ in 2018? Let me know in the comments below.

As ever, thanks for reading, and happy gardening,



Starting my new garden from scratch

A new blank garden has so many jobs to do – so I’ve begun breaking the lawn, and zoning off areas for vegetables, lawn, and flowers, and I’ve built a raised bed.

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted anything, and that’s because I’ve been busy moving house, and so amongst mowing grass (courtesy of a gift of an unwanted lawnmower from a family friend), caring for the shifted plants and seedlings, and the inevitable decorating, I’d not been out on the garden very much.

This garden, I hadn’t realised when I viewed it, sits on a very sticky clay soil. I’ve not had to garden clay soil before, and so I’m a little daunted at the long process it might take to break this up a bit. However, there is great news – it’s nutrient rich, and holds the water. Bad news, tools bounce off it when it dries out, and it can delay the growing season a little until plants become established.

A lawn being broken for the first border in a new garden
The first bits of lawn to be broken for the first border in my new garden.

There’s not much I can do but embrace it and get to work. So that’s what I’ve begun doing – but this started with the need to shift part of a pretty ridiculous patio fence enclosure, and shift it down the garden just in front of only-just-still-a-shed. The back garden runs a bit South East to North West, so the sun gets most parts of it during the day.

The previous owner had had a bit of a go with digging in a small 3ft x 6ft patch (approx) here, but otherwise it’s a worn lawn, and there’s no planting anywhere else. There’s some hedging alongside my fence, but these are in the neighbours’ garden, and i’m happy to have them there as the birds love them.

A lawn garden with sheds awaiting planting
My new garden – with an old shed, a usable shed, a fenced in patio (I took that section out and took it down the garden), and the blank lawn needs some work.

After some well-needed heavy rain, I was able to go out there and break the lawn, to cut in some first borders (i’ll enlarge these later), and to extend that little growing area into a bigger veggie plot that can handle my lettuce jungle, and the myriad of other items that have been screaming at the glass from my packed windowsills.

In an odd corner where the previous owners giant trampoline had killed the grass, and where a rotary washing line’s sunken base was almost covered over, i’ve built a raised bed. I bought two of the Homebase 6ft x 3ft kits and after wrestling with the screws, stacked them and filled them with a mixture of compressed cocoa, multipurpose compost, grass clippings, and some top soil (perhaps the odd banana skin and tea bag – i don’t remember, but it was hard work). This mixture should give the plants something interesting to grow in.

Two Homebase raised beds stacked on top of each other and filled with soil.
I stacked two of the Homebase raised bed kits and filled it with various soils and composts.

I just need to join the two levels, and it’ll all be good to grow in. I think my Squash Spaghetti Stripetti and some Courgette Black Beauty plants – which are desperately on flower at the moment, will go in here, and i might go round it with the copper tape. I don’t know how rampant the snails and slugs are in this garden compared to the last one.

There’s so much to do, and some corners of the garden are already finding their flowers.

For now though, happy gardening – and I’ll be back with another update real soon.


Planning the garden for 2012

Andrew looks back at the successes and failures of 2011, and plans for 2012!

This weekend, I once again found myself buying seeds for next year. This is a fairly addictive habit of mine. So whilst my local Huntingdon Garden and Leisure was thick with shoppers, pushing and shoving their way round calendars and Christmas decorations, I headed off into the opposite direction towards the pots, propagators and seeds.

2011 wasn’t great for my courgettes with both of the Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ plants succumbing to a mildew. This is perhaps partly because I planted my Antirrhinum ‘Chuckles’ so thickly, that air wasn’t able to circulate around the courgette leaves to dry them and avoid the outbreak.

The Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants were reluctant. Out of 7 plants (3 kept in a greenhouse, 4 grown outside), 1 died outside suddenly, leaving 6 plants. None of them produced a harvestable Aubergine, with one of the outdoor plants producing a fruit that you could practically inhale instead. It’s still there. The fruit hasn’t grown and the plant hasn’t died. It’s almost as if it’s just switched off!

Finally, the first Aubergine begins
Seven aubergine plants, and not one harvestable fruit!

Blogging chum ‘Scyrene’, who has a tomato addiction and writes the brilliant ‘The Gourmand’s Progress’, suggests that I sow the Aubergine seeds in a propagator in January in a bid to get that little bit further on. So, I will try again (on a smaller scale). If you have any tips on growing aubergines, please let me know in the comments!

My Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ took a real hammering from those pesky aphids / greenfly, with ladybirds moving in far too late to deal with them. This aside, I will try growing them again, as they tried hard to recover from the ordeal.

Speaking of ‘sweet’ – my little collection of Strawberry plants (Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ in particular), did well. Okay, so I only have 4 plants, but they kept going even when there wasn’t a great deal of sunshine around. I’ll hopefully find myself with an expanded crop of these in 2012.

Blue is the colour

My observations this year, is that everyone’s friend the bee, loves blue flowers. With this in mind, I took cuttings of the existing Lavender that was in the garden already, as it was very popular with them. In addition, I have one of those freebie packets of Thompson & Morgan Lavender ‘French’ from the Amateur Gardening magazine, which seems to be the same type.

Added to this will be Salvia ‘Farinacea – Victoria’ from Suttons Seeds – giving the garden another shot of blue. My Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’ was very popular with the bees this summer, so hopefully this will build on it.

…and the rest…

Foxgloves are ready to escape
The Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’, grown from seed, have been planted out.

Already planted out are the now matured Foxglove Excelsior ‘Hybrids Mixed’Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’, and the Crocus ‘Giant Ruby’ which should be flowering early next year.

I also picked up a packet of Suttons Seeds Night Scented Stock ‘Matthiola Bicornis’ – as I would like to see if I can get some plants that are fragrant. The Sweet Peas are supposed to be, but I never smelt anything (perhaps they were just stressed by the aphids?).

Having read many praises for their fragrance from Sean James Cameron on Twitter (a presenter on The Horticultural Channel), I’ve decided to give them a go too.

All set!

So, I’m already set up for 2012! 2011 has been great for learning in a new garden – which is both windy and shaded, and despite some failures, it has been very enjoyable to grow things from seed, nurture them to maturity and then see them grow and bloom for both myself and the wildlife to enjoy.