The spot behind the beech hedge has already become somewhat of an oasis over the past few weeks. Even the process of hard landscaping the area has been nothing short of therapeutic, especially when the sun shone. Needless to say, as a beginner I’m just learning the benefits of gardening; and I’m thoroughly enjoying the stress free moments I find amongst the soil. I’m looking forward to retreating to the kitchen garden in the summer months to potter and ponder and most of all harvest, but before then we got work to do!
So, this is what we started with minus the snow…
The site for the kitchen garden was established by the previous owners and is absolutely the best spot with generous amounts of sunshine and a south facing aspect. At 91 square metres, I wanted to created a space that I could “grow” in to over the next few years. A space that will eventually fully sustain a family of 5 with vegetables and possibly fruit.
In the past 2 months, the plot has been levelled-ish, raised beds have been built and set in place, gravel has been poured on top of pinned landscape fabric and the potting shed is up! But before we get to the detail of all that, I wanted to share the plans for the space and more importantly what I hope to be growing very soon!
First up the plan. Its not rocket science really, but I thought it would be good to explain some of the choices we made.
Initially, I wanted to stick the original layout of 4 beds around the outside of the plot with a feature of some sort in the middle. Once we began the hard landscaping, I quickly realised this wouldn’t be practical as the kitchen garden is at the top of a fairly steep hill and not close to the garage or any storage, so I needed a space on the plot to store tools. In addition, I wanted to make use of the south facing aspect so I could start seeds off undercover.
I also toyed with the idea of a water feature in the centre, but didn’t necessarily want to attract birds to the veg patch or more midges for that matter!
So here is what I ended up with.
There wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the soil, but the idea of raised beds really appealed to me for ease, soil development, plus they look good!
I opted for a potting shed, as opposed to a greenhouse, with huge slanted windows to make the most of the intermittent sun, to store tools and as a place I could escape to with a cuppa every now then.
I’ll install a rain water-butt off the back of the shed which will hopefully provide enough water for the plot without the need to have irrigation brought up the hill. We may end up adding a tap and hose at some point.
Although we’ve made plans to create a compost corner at the far top of the garden, I have also included a compost bay inside the plot that I’m aiming to make cheaply out of pallets specifically for the kitchen garden. As I mentioned in my last post the total garden is a very generous size and the back portion is on slope, so self containing areas where possible can only help us manage it better in the long run.
So yes, not rocket science but I think we are making the most of what we have without overcrowding things. I have left almost a metre between the beds to make moving around the wheelbarrow a doddle. I also envisage little pots at the end of beds filled with companion plants, herbs and bursts of colour.
On the growing front, for my first season, I am sticking to the vegetables we eat every day as a family. Below are the varieties I chose.
Courgettes – Defender F1
Calabrese – (broccoli to us mere mortals) Green Magic F1
Carrots – Romance F1 Hybrid
Cauliflower – Aviron F1
Potatoes – King Edward (Maincrop)
Runner Beans – Tenderstar
Radishes – Long Scarlet
White Onion – Sturon
Red Onion – Red Baron
Spring Onion – Ishikura
Leeks – Musselburgh
Lettuce – Cosmic (a mid-sized classic cos type)
Spinach – Annual Banjo
Pumpkin – Munchkin Pumpkin
Butternut Squash – Early Butternut
To keep me right I made a schedule of when to start sowing indoors and out, when to harden off, how and when to harvest, and also care tips for each variety. If you’re new to gardening and even if you’re not; I found popping my research into a no frills table made the vasts amount of information less overwhelming.
I’ve discovered loads of styles of gardeners from the purist of the pure, to those that play music to their seedlings. All amazing and fun, but as the inspiring Charles Dowding says, you have to try and test for yourself and see what works for you.
Right, onto the makeover which is only around half way there but so far has gone something like this:
Thanks so much for reading, I’ll post an update of the space in the next few weeks, in the meantime I need to turn my attention to the flower cutting courtyard and get sowing some seeds!
*feature image found on Pinterest