No chemicals required
There have been quite a few changes and I’ve certainly learnt a lot in the past 4 months. Although I can’t actually believe it only been 4 months, there’s been such a transformation.
The garden is flourishing, we are harvesting our first crops and saving loads of money as a result, the wildlife has arrived and the birds are singing. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome so soon after digging up the lawn, as a new gardener I'm astounded at the transformation, and no chemicals required, it's ALL organic folks.
The ‘Dig or no Dig’ beds have both produced good healthy crops, and the free mulch grass clippings didn't encouraged the slugs after all. In fact I haven’t noticed any slugs on my veg so far, only butterflies. Perhaps the birds and frogs are keeping them in check. Or maybe our new resident the slow worm has been busy, he/she looks healthy enough.
Having such a small plot I’ve had to improvise and perhaps break a few rules but it’s all good experience. I’ve also found that I’m favouring the no dig methods championed by Charles Dowding and in the spirit of his book ‘Gardening Myths and Misconceptions’ I’ve probably taken a few liberties with the hard and fast rules of cultivation here and there. Planting my tomatoes with the cucumbers being one example. Although that was probably more out of impatience than any intention to undermine the horticultural establishment.
So it’s all coming together., I just need to keep up the momentum. Nature after all isn’t going to take a break.
Recycling and Facebook gardener tip of the season
I’ve converted a few more pallets into planters, which turned out to be really good at keeping slugs and snails away from plants somehow. Here's a few examples of how to recycle palettes on my Pinterest board. My next best find was something I picked up from one of the allotment Facebook Groups I follow.
How to brew your own own FREE stinky high nutrient packed liquid fertiliser and plant feed.
- Place a bunch of nettles in a container, cover with with water, pop a lid on and leave for a few weeks in a sunny spot and voila, stinky liquid fertiliser plant feed.
A list of plants in my first veg plot this spring
The first successful veggies in my organic plot have been Red Onions, Radishes (now on our third sowing), Strawberries (first year so only a few emerged), Cucumbers (nearly lost them to yellow spot), mini bell tomatoes, Runner beans, potatoes (can’t remember what type but they came out of the ground like new potatoes in June), Pumpkins (still doing well), courgettes & marrows (courgette soup now being my favourite way to tackle a glut of courgettes), carrots, sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, two varieties of beetroot, cut and come again salad leaves, spinach, chard, fennel, Kale, loganberries, blackberries, gooseberries, a red current bush, two varieties of blue berries, sunflowers, petunias, marigolds, rose bushes, purple sage, thyme, lemon balm, peppermint, chives, oregano. I already had two dwarf apple trees and one dwarf pear tree and an olive tree in pots. Don't think I've missed anything.
Veg harvested within 5 months of sowing
So within our first four months we have harvested loads of salad leaves, spinach, radishes, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, courgettes, marrows, some strawberries and now we have loads of runner beans coming along.
We are without a shadow of a doubt, completely hooked on gardening and growing as much of our own food as feasibly possible in our small garden. This is more than doable folks, it’s essential. To increase yield however, I believe I may have to explore more adventurous methods such as vertical growing.
Growing our own food has undoubtedly saved us loads of money as we’re rather keen on salads, but it’s also provided quality fresh organic food for our plates, and we have been eating much healthier meals as a result. Not to mention the fact that we’ve cut down on supermarket packaging and subsequent waste. There’s also the community benefit of being able to share our produce with neibour’s and harvest organic seeds for next year.
So on to August and now there’s a bit of space where the spuds used to be I’ve got some thinking to do, there’s still lots of veg and salad leaves to choose from just not too much time left to do it in.
There's more to the garden than just fruit & veg.
The flowers have attracted the bees, although other insects have arrived to eat my plants of course but so have the predator insects and birds. Especially in the late evening sun when all of the local sparrows descend to pick off the bugs from under the leaves.
We have frogs in the long grass, and a more permanent pond will be made from an old broken metal wheelbarrow (watch this space).
The birds have a luxury bath and in a repurposed 1920’s Japanese cloisonné plate which I’ve placed in a sheltered corner high up under the apple tree.
All in all not a bad start to the Small Space Gardening year
Nature hasn’t disappointed and I can’t stop staring out of the kitchen window observing all that flourishes, and wondering what to do next.
The front garden is a different story all together, covered in grass with a few rose bushes. A rogue Buddleia has however inspired me to develop a butterfly friendly garden, and I am wondering if I can propagate most of what I'd like from wild bushes and flowers.
Something to think about there, and I shall definitely let you know how that progresses.
August and September planting
As a new gardener I am relying on the internet to guid me, so although this is admittedly a bit of an advert, I have found this section of Dobies seasonal planting guide rather helpful.
So back to the veg plot for the summer planting for a late autumn, winter and spring harvest. But I'll leave that for a future post.
Feel free to share your gardening escapades in the comments below, and don’t forget to look out for new inhabitants in your compost before you turn it with the garden fork.