Growing our own for the first time…

I am renowned for not being green-fingered in any way; despite a few attempts any plants in my vicinity tend to die off pretty quickly! This is not true of my daughter who has the ability to nurture and grow as an inherent skill. The evidence is in the above image as within weeks these plants have quadrupled in size. As a result, we substantially accelerated our plans to construct a veggie patch down the bottom of our garden.

It started with erecting a new fence. With the increased privacy and the removal of multiple trees and many weeds, we started the construction process – initially by putting aside pieces from our old back fence. We have a roll of wire and a miniature gate salvaged from the rotten pile of waste wood. I’m trying very hard to reuse and recycle, making sure that I do my best to meet my own standards discussed in previous blogs and inspired by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation‘s Circular Economy idea.

Having decided on the space to use and taking multiple, massive garden waste bags to the rubbish tip, we cleared the area shown in Step 1 below. To get to this point, we removed stray rubble, dug it over and weeded thoroughly, and then raked it as level as possible. Needless to say we needed new tools for this process and invested in a garden fork and pruning saw from the local garden centre (I’ve set a link for a cheaper saw, though if you can afford it decent quality tools do last a long time so are worth the investment. Even though we bought an expensive fork, we have already managed to bend one of the prongs!). We’re now becoming familiar visitors to the garden centre staff! Fortunately we already had the other basics; a rake, spade, full tool box with screws and a hammer, secateurs and gardening gloves (leather ones are recommended as they stop nettle and thistle injuries).

Step 2 shows how to incorporate manure into the soil to enrich it. We’ve decided to build four raised beds, hence the gaps between the darker soil which is the manure and the normal top soil. It does smell a bit but is a bit cheaper than compost… Having dug over the existing top soil, I laid the manure in four patches and dug it into the soil. By covering the earth in plastic, it suppresses the weeds from growing back and makes it easier for the plants to thrive once they are planted shown in Step 3. We had also laid the plastic earlier in the process for a few weeks to reduce weeds even further. We plan to dig in the rest of the manure, cover it all and plant out our seedlings in a week or so.

I am now off for lunch, as digging is hard work and good exercise without really thinking about the gym! I’m leaving the last two manure patches for my daughter to dig in herself, given it’s a shared project but lead by her. Wish us well with the planting, I’ll post some more photos as things progress.

All the best with your own veggie patches.

Love Ruth x

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