Real Men Sow

A Patch From Scratch: Thoughts on Starting Out Part 3 – Exploring Your Patch

This weekend I’m going to start digging and clearing my new garden veg patch. After musing about reasons for growing and influences, the hard work will start early this coming Saturday.

Looking down at my garden, I’ve been asking myself what I see. Of course, there’s a shed, a lawn and lots of weeds, but other not so obvious features lurk too – features that could prove vital to the success of my patch.

Wind Protection
This could influence where I sow delicate crops. Most back gardens are protected well by structures such as sheds and fences, and mine seems a sheltered spot. However, this isn’t always the case, so it’s worth trying to identify those little areas where extra protection occurs. For example, my allotment doesn’t offer the best shelter from wind as it is an open plot, so some seedlings have suffered in the past when planted during or before a breezy day.

How does the land lie? Is it dead flat or does the ground have any slopes? Again, this is important as it could determine a number of my growing choices, especially where water is concerned. Slope one way, and the area might be prone to waterlogging. Slope the other way, and the water will run off and not feed the plant.

Temperature can also be a factor. Depending on the slope, the area may receive lots of sun, or equally be a frost pocket in winter time.

Light and Shade
A couple of Saturdays ago, I was home all day so tried to check every hour or so as to where the sun was falling, and if there were any shady parts on my patch. If I want to grow plants that require full sun, it’s really useful for me to know which part of the veg bed gets sun for all or most of the day.

Likewise, spotting where the shade sits will help me make best use of the plot, as I can put shade happy plants in these areas. I’ve got two plum trees and a pear tree on my patch too, which will definitely create some shade.

I’ve seen the odd person on the Internet who has set up a time lapse camera to record where the sun sets its rays during the day, which is a great idea if you’ve got the cash and inclination. For the rest of us, a few cups of tea and a good book sat in a chair is just as good!

Practicalities – Where’s the Toot Going?
Everyone needs somewhere to store toot, whether its bags of weeds ready to be taken away, or a pile of manure. In my fanciful excitement, I nearly overlooked the need for a useful space near to my patch.

Fortunately, I’ve got an ugly corner outside my shed which is perfect for a couple of compost bins, wheelbarrow and a water butt. In fact, these items will enhance the look of my patch too, as they’ll help cover up the unsightly concrete wall at the back of the garden.

Like everything in the garden, it needs some TLC and a darn good clearout, but once I’ve done that the space might even become my favourite area. The previous occupier has even thrown in a compost bin for good measure.

Nurture What You Inherit
Intriguingly, I’ve found some fruit bushes too. I’ve had a few loganberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants since I moved in, even though the bushes are in a real state and have grown into very strange, rampant shapes.

This reminded me of goodies I found when I took on my allotment. There are more perennial weeds than healthy looking onions and oodles of purple sprouting broccoli this time around, but I’m not one to scoff at established fruit bushes. They’re surrounded by weeds at the mo, but I’m looking forward to having a hack around to see if I can give the bushes some help over winter.

The weekend can’t come soon enough and I can’t wait to get going. The weather forecast is a sunny one, I’ve nothing on (events wise, not clothing), and the stage is set.

A Patch From Scratch can really begin.

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  1. Claire BensonAugust 9, 2012 at 5:02 pmReply

    You are so much more considered than me! I couldn’t wait to have veg growing. In fact it was quite upsetting at first not to have a productive patch. It took me about a month from moving in to deturf the grass off the patch, study the patch for sunlight and draw up a plan on paper. By week four I was sowing seed. It took about another 3 months before I started to eat crops from it and it wasn’t until I got to that point that I could sincerely say I’d properly settled into the new home.

    What I hadn’t factored in were pests and had a battle on my hands with the resident pigeons and magpies.

    Having said that as we move towards winter sowing time, I drew up another plan of the garden (it’s divided into rows and squares) to think about any spaces I have or when I will have spaces becoming vacant for winter veg. The garlic bulbs have been ordered!

    Are you going to do the square metre/foot method?

  2. Dee SewellAugust 10, 2012 at 8:36 pmReply

    Love that you’re planning a toot corner, how many people forget that! Best of luck with it and look forward to seeing the updates :-)

  3. Jono

    JonoAugust 12, 2012 at 7:42 pmReplyAuthor

    Claire – its the slugs I reckon I’ll have trouble with. There seems to be so many more in the garden than on the plot. They are getting fewer as I clear more undergrowth and weeds, but I’m going to have to get my thinking cap on when I do start sowing. They had my parsley plant completely overnight.

    I reckon I will use the square foot method. It looks so much more compact, and I’ll get much more from the space. My only concern is that it won’t look as nice as rows, but that’s me being vain!

    Thanks Dee – I’ve also got room for a bench. Mustn’t forget a bench!

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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