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Gardening resolutions for 2019

Making a raised bed... with 30cm bamboo edging
Making a raised bed... with 30cm bamboo edging

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:

And this is supposed to be the sunny side!
And this is supposed to be the sunny side!

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.

Taking up too much space... dotberries
Taking up too much space… dotberries

Tough decisions

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.

The fruit bed in 2015 - when you could see the edge of it!
The fruit bed in 2015 – when you could see the edge of it!

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.

First layer on the no-dig bed
First layer on the no-dig bed

No-dig gardening

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.

Garlic
My first garlic bulb

More veg

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!

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Mandy, I’m planning to do no-dig on my new allotment so what did you mean by lasagne layering mentioning newspaper etc.? Did you mean you put layers of cardboard on the soil and just leave it there and cover it up?? I love your blog on the new year and so agree that things have to go if they don’t give 365 value in a small space.

    I’m also planning to make all my beds raised up to waist height if I can.

    • Hi Julie, thanks very much! I’m going to do a more detailed post in the near future when I have some better pictures. Basically, you start with a layer of cardboard or 3 layers of newspapers, add a layer of green garden/kitchen waste and brown waste 2:1 ratio, then another layer of cardboard making sure it’s all wet to rot down. I’ve put cardboard over the top to stop mine blowing away. You’re supposed to make a pile 2ft high that will rot down. I’ve added a bit of Garotta to speed things up a bit. Waist height beds sound great but a lot of soil to fill!

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