Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Z is indecisive

I have a newly cleared (by the chickens) piece of ground that measures about 35 feet by 50 feet. This will be an extension of the kitchen garden and will just about double it in size. I am finding it quite difficult to decide how to divide it up.

When we moved here, we turned a small lawn into the veg garden. We had the turf taken off and stacked to rot down and made beds 4 foot wide by 38 foot long (sorry, you are going to have to do the metric equivalents yourself. 1 foot = 30 centimetres, within a gnats crotchet). There are 6 of these, with 2 foot paths in between. At one end, against the greenhouse, is a 3 foot by 30 foot herb bed. At one side is a further area for jerusalem and globe artichokes, which is now part of the newly cleared area.

Since then, I've acquired 2 more greenhouses, one 30-something foot by 12 foot and one about 40 foot by 14 foot. I also have another area, about 45 foot by 12 foot, for growing squashes and pumpkins.

And another, for soft fruit. That's also 38 feet long and has three beds, each 4 or 5 feet wide.

It seems enough for anyone, doesn't it. But the soft fruit area was not well planned or executed and has become overgrown. When I was too busy to look after it for a couple of years, it got completely out of hand and I've now taken down all the netting, cut off the bits of currant growing through it and, in the autumn, will consider moving it altogether, or maybe everything but the raspberries which come up everywhere anyway.

What I'm finding it hard to do is decide how to divide up the new area. Two sides, a short and a long, will be against a wall once I've built it (once the Sage has come up with the ideal bricks) and I might put in some fruit trees, such as apricot or peach. One faces South and the other East. Another side is separated from the 40 foot greenhouse by a 2 foot path. The fourth is alongside the present kitchen garden.

It's much easier to deal with beds with permanent paths, for several reasons. One is that you don't dig, manure or weed where you aren't going to grow things. Another is that the rain comes off the paths onto the ground - useful on my light soil. The ground warms up early in the spring as the heat of the sun is absorbed by the concrete and released later. If for some reason you don't need all the garden for vegetables one year, it does not become badly overgrown, especially if you put down a mulch.

But four foot paths are not perfect for everything. So maybe five or more foot this time? Or maybe a couple of narrower ones for climbing beans? Or is that too restrictive?

Usually, I'd just grow potatoes for a year to clear the ground and let the plan form in my mind gradually. But the chooks cleared it for me and I need to decide quickly.

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and decided it was just too dull to post. But tonight I'm too tired to write and I'd really appreciate some advice, if you have any, so I've changed my mind and am inflicting it on you.

11 comments:

A wildlife gardener said...

What about part of it for herbs...or do you already have a herb bed?

Z said...

The herb bed is the 3 foot wide one against the greenhouse. I also plant herbs in the tubs near the door to the house, so that I don't always have to go down the garden every time i want a sprig of thyme or whatever.

Murph said...

I suggest a wildlife playpark for Tilly...a sort of Canine Pleasurewood Hills only more interesting.

"Tilly Towers".

Z said...

Chester used to use the vegetable garden as his relaxing area. He liked freshly dug earth, which held the sun's warmth, with newly emerging seedlings for springiness.

Tilly would be pleased if I encouraged moles. She likes digging out a molehill.

The Boy said...

A wealth of land is a lovely thing. The corresponding pain of maintaining it though... I'm jealous of your greenhouses. We live on a hill with an Eastwards downward slope. We keep scratching our heads on where to fit any greenhouses.

How do we know said...

My God! Even the thought of so much land in the house and to be able to grow anything on it is so .. fanstastic for ctupid city ppl like me.. forget about advice Zoe.. i can't even think up the spaces in my head!! ("stupid-me" pout)

Z said...

I do as little other gardening as possible, it's mostly crisis management - hack away undergrowth when you hear the plaintive cries of assorted deliverymen and women who have been trapped by triffids.

But the vegetable garden is Useful and has to be kept nice. When we moved here, my main stipulation was that the greenhouse and the kitchen garden took priority.

I'd quite like a bit of a slope, Boy. My garden is completely flat (it is Norfolk, after all) and a contour or two would add interest. I'd also like a conservatory, but the house doesn't suit it.

The Boy said...

Well, I'll trade you a little slope for a bit of flat. We've got too much of the former, though frankly I'm not complaining too much. We have great views, and have worked over the years to terrace the garden as much as pos, and its a lovely space.

Our conservatory I'm keeping. Wouldn't be without it. We built a big one 8 yards by 6, two thirds glassed roof, 1 third tiled. She of the green thumb keeps it jungle like with about 30 plants of various sizes from small to 15 foot. We live in it as its bright even on rainy days.

Z said...

Of course, if I had a conservatory like that I'd grow a few peppers and aubergines in it. I might allow some flowers too.

stitchwort said...

Your *extra patch* is a trifle larger than my whole back garden, you lucky creature.

Z said...

I know I am - I hope that I didn't sound as if I was boasting, Stitch as I didn't mean to. It's a very unposh garden indeed.