It is the last day of July and after the hectic last few months, I am finally able to tell you of the all the progress I’ve been making with my new garden, foraging and other efforts towards living a more sustainable life.
With the help of a hired man, we cleared a large area of land for the new garden. It was an exhausting task as we fought with briar’s, poison ivy, barbed wire, blackthorn, tree stumps, rocks and various construction materials that had been dumped there by previous owners. After clearing all the top debris, the top sods of grass were removed to the bare earth. It took several long hard days over a number of weeks until the land was finally clear.
We brought up all the fruit trees, fruit bushes vegetables and herbs that we had bought over the last year and worked out where best to place everything, both visually and on paper. It is important when planting a new garden to consider things like where is the most sun, what sort of soil it is, is there any shelter from the wind…Other practical things to consider are the size of the plants you are putting in, how high and wide will they grow and cross pollination.
It took me a few weeks to dig in everything as the weather was either hot and dry causing the ground to split and go rock hard, or else it was poring rain! In the two photographs I have up, you can see the fruit trees and fruit bushes mark out the borders of the vegetable garden, while we used briquettes of turf to border the herb garden and soft fruit bed.
Here is the scary list of all that I have planted so far:
2 Conference Pear
3 White current
31 Strawberry plants
Pink Evening Primrose
Phew! After writing that long list, I am tired just thinking about it, never mind how long it took me to dig them all in! I am almost finished my planting thank goodness, I want to get the ground dug over as quickly as possibly and plant crops before the weeds come back so I still want to plant:
I am thrilled with all the progress over the last two months that has been made and how quickly the plants are adjusting to the soil and establishing themselves. It has been a nightmare to keep them watered as its been an unusually dry summer so far [not that I’m complaining!]and so every evening, I haul twenty liters at a time[ten in each watering can] up the hill to the new garden. It takes about ten trips before its well watered but this time next year, I wont have to water the trees, bushes and herbs, just the vegetables. I will have some muscles by the end of the season!
I was shocked to discover that withing two days of planting the fruit bushes, that the birds had stripped them entirely of all the fruit. I bought fine netting and covered all the fruit bushes and strawberry plants. To my horror, we came up one morning and found a blackbird stuck in the strawberry nets with the wire totally twisted around him. After grabbing gloves and scissors, I carefully held the bird in one hand while cutting off all the net. He was very stressed and I felt terrible but at last all the netting that we could see was gone and I released him into some bushes and he hopped off. I removed the strawberry nets and instead bought mini wind mills which make noise when they spin in the breeze. It seems to be working so will buy some more as want to keep any fruit that we can. I intend to buy fine mesh to place over the strawberry bed as a precaution. I also tied strips of tin foil to the fruit bushes as this is supposed to scare away birds also.
Apart from weeding and watering, I have a few more tasks to do in the garden, I need to get a fine mesh net to put over the cabbage to stop white butterflies landing and laying their eggs which hatch into hundreds of green caterpillars which devour the plants in days. I also need to get elastic bands and tie up all the celery plants to encourage them to grow up rather then out. My broccoli plants will need little collars to stop caterpillars and my brussel sprouts will need support sticks in a few weeks once they start growing tall. There is always something to do in a garden!
Its been terribly hard backbreaking work and my skin is now brown from the sun, my hands are calloused and rough from digging, while my back and shoulders are full of knots and strained muscles.
I have been out everyday I can and at times it feels like all I do is breathe, eat and sleep this garden but it will never be this hard again and it is so worth it. I have spent so long thinking about this and to see it come into existence is an incredible empowering feeling.
I am looking forward to finally been able to supply our kitchen with the majority of our food coming from the garden. I wont be using any chemicals, this will be an organic garden and so our food will freshly picked and pesticide free. Its going to be wonderful!:)