Why I’m going back to basics
I’ve made a head start with my gardening resolutions for 2019 – mainly because I traditionally start my horticultural new year on Boxing Day.
This festive period has been great – the weather’s been dry, mostly calm and mild, so I’ve put in a couple of hours at least for a full week on the heavy winter jobs that will make life a great deal easier in the growing season.
If you shut up shop from October to March, you’re missing a treat – there’s nothing like the feeling of achievement working outdoors at this time of year.
Wrapped up warmly and having a cuppa outdoors, you see what really goes on in your garden – the bird life activity, the stirring of the spring bulbs and the silence, as nobody’s going to ruin your time with a lawnmower or the smell of barbecuing sausages.
Now’s the time to make any serious structural changes. I would love to hire a landscape architect to make the most of my plot but can’t afford it, so any major alterations have to be a) cheap and b) done by me.
Here are my resolutions for 2019:
Let there be light
The bulk of my garden is a long, thin shape running along the house, half in sun, the other half in the shade of the tall hedge, apart from in summer.
The sunny side has the greenhouse, a sitting area and apricot and apple trees I want to keep, so anything taking up precious space has been moved – Euphorbia, Penstemon, geraniums and Heuchera.
As my garden is packed tight, I’ve decided to rationalise and remove ANYTHING that is not paying its way. Sadly, this means the two dotberry bushes, which have proved too big for my fruit bed and cast too much shade have had to go.
I had to cut them back, limiting their harvest. If you have the space, give them a go, but avoid if sun and space are precious.
Higher raised beds
None of us are getting any younger and raised beds saves wear and tear on the joints and back, as well as providing a hospitable environment for edibles. Following on from my tropical bed, I decided to use 30cm x 1.5m bamboo rolls from Suregreen (£7.50) to make a new veg bed and replace the old 15cm high Link-a-Bord fruit version.
These are easy to mould around bends and corners and install, as some of the thick canes are longer and sharpened so you can easily hammer them into the soil. I’ve strengthened them with some old metal poles recycled from an old tomato growhouse.
The soil by the greenhouse has always been shallow and stony, so higher beds and lasagne layering are ideal opportunities to improve it. I haven’t had the chance to give this a go before now (more on this in a later post).
It’s an ideal way to recycle cardboard, newspapers and green and brown garden waste to create a rich growing medium.
New raised beds mean more veg! I’ve been aware that I’ve strayed into more ornamental areas – my edible stalwarts have been tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, apples, plums, rhubarb and bramble fruit.
Now I’m looking forward to adding old favourites and some new veg to my roster. Happy growing!