Real Men Sow

A Patch From Scratch – August Update

One thing I miss from my GYO money saving experiment is the monthly updates. Not only did they log how much cash I was saving, they were also useful reminders of progress through the year.

Lots of other bloggers do end of month updates, and as I’m just starting out on my Patch From Scratch adventure, I’ve decided to resurrect mine. There won’t be any money saving results, but hopefully a nice picture of my patch progress will build over the coming months.

A Digging-Filled August
During August I have mainly been digging, and pulling weeds out as I go. The good news is that I’ve now got the majority of the patch dug over and covered in carpet and tarpaulin until I manure in October-ish. I got off to a decent start, clearing a large area over a weekend, and since then I’ve almost finished the section alongside the greenhouse.

All that stands in my way is this rather rampant Bear’s Breeches.

The flowers are dieing off now, but according to the BBC’s plant finder the best time to divide the plants is April to February. I’m not sure I can wait that long so I might have to risk rehoming it and hoping for the best.

The Beeb also recommend that ‘Once established it is virtually impossible to move plants so correct positioning is vital’. Fingers crossed for this handsome plant, but as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said in the first episode of Escape to River Cottage, ‘I like flowers as much as the next man, but there’s no room for passengers in this garden’. Well, the veg bit, anyway.

Progress at the Back of the Garden
I’ve also cleared out the unsightly spot at the back of the garden, and transferred one of my compost bins from the plot. This was a very satisfying job as it turned out; I couldn’t believe the difference in the space when I stood back to admire my graft.

From this:

To this:

Extra Growing Space
Equally satisfying was finding extra growing space in amongst the weed I’d pulled up. Underneath I expected concrete or broken paving but I got soil along the back and side fencing instead. Creating extra growing space, however small, is very exciting – especially when you start thinking how to utilise it.

The space against the side fence gets its fair share of shade, so I’m going to put a few rhubarb crowns in there. As for the space against the ugly back wall, I’m not sure. Currently weighing up another compost bin, potatoes grown in car tyres, my ladder allotment, a water butt or simply using the patch to grow something. A final option is to try and train a fruit up the wall, such as a blackberry or loganberry.

Herb Garden
At the other end of the garden, I’ve been working to create a herb garden by my patio. I remember reading a great piece of gardening advice from Alys Fowler, which went something along the lines of start from your back door and work out. I found a load of nice limestone kicking about in the flower beds, so have cleared out the beds that edge on to the patio and planted perennial herbs in and around the limestones.

There’s a motley crew of herbs in there now: a few bought from the farmers market and nursery, as well as some thyme and chives I’ve grown from seed, rosemary from a cutting, tarragon sent to me by the gentleman that is Carl Legge and lemon balm I dug up from a friends. I’m a little concerned that I should have planted the spearmint and the dead happy sage against the fence as they’re dominating the little thyme and marjoram, but then I guess I can always dig up and divide if necessary.

Happiness is a Garden Waste Wheelie Bin
On a final note, I got myself a green waste wheelie bin from the local Council. £34 a year for a weekly collection and I’m chuffed. It’s revolutionary! No more tips to the dump for my poor old car, stuffed full of wet, muddy weeds. I fill the bin up every weekend, wheel it out to the front of the house Wednesday morning, and hey pesto, by the time I get home from work the garden waste fairies (aka the binmen) have emptied it for me. And all for 65p a week. Now that’s what I call a bargain.

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  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!September 2, 2012 at 1:16 pmReply

    Coming along nicely! Why not pull up those pavers in back by the compost bin? If you’re looking for more growing space, it seems obvious that they need to go.

    I suppose the weeds and other garden waste is too much for your small compost bin, hence the need to have it hauled off?

    • Jono

      JonoSeptember 3, 2012 at 8:09 amReplyAuthor

      haha, funnily enough Alan the pavers came up yesterday, and I’ve already changed my mind about the compost bins. They’ve gone under the pear and plum trees as I won’t be able to grow much there because of the roots, and my new idea is to grow an espalier apple up the wall with extra strawberries in front.

      I’ve never composted my weeds down – have you tried this?

  2. wellywomanSeptember 5, 2012 at 11:18 amReply

    If the weather’s good I’ll leave weeds lying on my paths at the allotment to dry out and after a couple of days I just put them on the compost heap. You can also try drowning them in a bucket of water and then emptying the contents onto the heap. I agree though it is handy to have all the stuff that can’t go on the heap taken away for you.

  3. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » Preparing a Strawberry Bed and Propagating Plants to Go In ItSeptember 5, 2012 at 8:31 pmReply

    [...] A Patch From Scratch – August Update [...]

  4. Jono

    JonoSeptember 5, 2012 at 8:36 pmReplyAuthor

    That’s interesting about composting the weeds down. I’ve always been nervous of doing this, thinking that they would come back up in the earth if I used the compost? But I guess if you kill them off then this won’t happen?

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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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