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.

Shed
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!

Andrew

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,

Andrew

 

I don’t think you’re ready for this Courgetti

I’m drowning in Courgettes, and I’m spiralizing them as fast as I can go…. but I fear this is only the start!

You might remember that I planted 6 Courgette ‘Black Beauty plants earlier this year, and when I moved into my new house at the end of April, I swiftly built a raised bed and planted 4 of them in it, and 2 of them nearby.

Two Homebase raised beds stacked on top of each other and filled with soil.
I built my raised bed at the end of May, and planted 4 courgettes, 2 squash and 2 aubergines.

Well, having since had weeks of hot weather and sporadic heavy rainfall, I’m now in the midst of a Courgette-valanche, a Zuchinni-overload, I’m drowing in them. Plus, i somewhat foolishly gave them all liquid fertilizer at the weekend! :S

Today I went out and picked 8 courgettes.

Courgette harvest of week 4
4th week of courgette harvests – 8 of them!

Introducing the Courgettometer

Because I love a good bar chart, I’ve decided to keep a tally of how many courgettes i’m picking per week, and how much they weigh. I’ll probably do the same for the French Beans, although the Courgettes will win on weight easily.

Here’s the Courgettometer’s cumulative courgette weight chart so far:

Courgettometer - week 4
A chart showing the cumulative weight (in grams) of Courgettes from my garden – week 4

I knew I’d get more than I needed (I’m the only one here to eat them), but in just the 4th week of harvest, they show no sign of giving up. Thankfully I traded in my wrist-achingly manual spiralizer for a Morphy Richards electric spiralizer a few weeks ago, and after a few very disappointing and messy squishy attempts, I’ve pretty much mastered it and now I’m eating a courgette most days via the magic of courgette spaghetti – or ‘courgetti’ as I like to call it. I don’t eat pasta or noodles, so turning a courgette into a noodle form gives me a lovely bulky meal that’s also far healthier (and less uncomfortable) for me to eat. It also means I can eat them alongside a load of other vegetables without realising I’m eating a whole courgette.

A bit of a squeeze

The Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ are likely to give the courgettes a run for the title of heaviest veg harvest this year, with the one surviving plant in the raised bed having gone potty (I almost wrote ‘bananas’ there) in the last few weeks. It has probably reached a good 15 feet in spread, swamping and strangling anything in its path, and there’s loads of squashes littered around the garden under its leaves.

The largest Squash 'Spaghetti Stripetti' a few weeks ago.
The largest Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ a few weeks ago.

I originally planted two squashes in this raised bed, but sadly (and probably fortunately), the wind snapped one of them in half. Stupidly, I sowed a replacement, which is now sitting impatiently on my kitchen windowsill as I wonder whether the hell I can let it grow.

As for the courgette overload, I’ll keep eating them, but at some point I’m probably going to have to start giving them away to neighbours and friends. That’s one of the great things about being a vegetable gardener – if you produce too much food, you can be sure that you can give it away. Veg gardening can be a very sociable past time.

That’s it for now – but let me know whether you’re drowning in a pile of fruit/veg yet? I’d love to hear of more recipe ideas too – I’m thinking about Courgette muffins, courgette cake, and wondering whether they convert to soup very well.

As ever, thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew 🙂

 

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.

Andrew