Today I got to the beginning of closing down the garden for the winter. I harvested some onions, tomatoes, beetroot, courgettes and cabbages. I also pulled down lots of infrastructures and laid the land bare again.
It makes me pleased to enjoy these simple pleasures. I’ve found 2 hours to go to work outside, have had exercise, have connected with the land and spent a good amount of time settling my mind away from the screens and distractions. It’s a peaceful hobby and also good for food miles, and biodiversity.
So we were lucky to buy a house with a used 1/3 acre garden. Funnily enough it pushed the price down on the property here - people don’t want land to have to manage, and it is a bit of a burden. But if you get into a routine you can have an amazing time with it, making it a joy to spend time there.
I want to acknowledge that not everyone does have access to this area of land to grow. But I think that it’s actually about the rhythm in life - I had done some growing in our last tiny garden and had some good results so was confident about taking on this land. This is the same for others as nearly everyone in the UK access to allotments. Everyone advises with gardening to start small and then grow out… so I think this blog should be useful for everyone.
When we arrived the raised beds were deteriorating, so I put in a lot of used railway sleepers to replace them. They’re long-lasting, second use and from a local depot. It was sustainable and also cost-effective. Time effective? Well… it took me about 7 days of hard labour with people helping on 3 of them to get them in place - they are 90 kilos each!.
The whole garden comprises of an orchard with a dozen trees; apples, pears, greengages, and plums. There is another area committed to raised beds and a greenhouse, where countless and a boring to fully list area is used to grow; berries, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions, garlic… etc.
I have several areas also for composting and this year I got a wormery (picture below) - which is now providing a lot of liquid fertilizer for things like the tomatoes!
I wanted to start by telling you about the cycle of gardening and it’s results. For us - we get about 10% of our food from the garden, so it’s not bad…
Harvest crops… Pull out and re-prepare the land, plant in some wintering vegetables. Today I’ve pulled up the bean plants, and cut back a load of vegetation. I recently planted some overwintering; kale, spinach and cabbages. We’re pretty good at making jams (which we never buy during the year and generally give away as presents) and elderflower (I’ve attached a few of my other stories to this thread so you can see)…
I’ve also just taken out the proportion of my watering system (I haven’t got the time to water).
Prepare the land. I usually get in a load of manure and spread out the compost over the unused areas so it gets broken down in the frosts and rain. Farmers always say - put it what you take out!.
Crop some Brussell Sprouts and cabbages and other really nice wintering veg. As early as January or late December I’ll start growing seedlings in my office (it doesn’t take up much space and so much cheaper than buying everything in pots).
Weed and prepare the land for sowing. My greenhouse will start as early as February, outside planting will go on from April. At this stage things are very busy as you need to get all the infrastructure (watering etc) in place in the green house and move it from a storage cupboard to an active area for growing.
Enjoy the garden with twenty minutes of weeding and maintenance in the evening. You also need to spend a decent amount of time cutting stuff back and keeping growth in check so I usually have to put in at least 3 hours intensive work every two weeks. But this is a golden time when your children want to play outside so it’s pretty nice!
What I’ll do from time to time is drop a note, a photo, some information on this thread so people can learn a little more about the story…
Hope you enjoy it - do ask me questions and please to encourage me to keep on writing and sharing!