‘Start from your back door,’ Alys Fowler wrote in the first chapter of her lovely book, The Thrifty Gardener. Nearly four months into our new lives in Somerset, I’m taking her advice.
Initially, I had planned to clear the back of the garden in our new house to create a new veg patch, ready for our first summer as Somerset residents. This was going to be the first garden job, and I began clearing over Christmas. Recently, however, I’ve had a change of plan.
The intention is still to clear the back of the garden for a veg patch, but there’s more work there than I anticipated, and if I don’t have a rejig, I’ll never get a seed in the ground this summer. So, I’m going to use this space around the patio instead, to begin with, as well as this space outside the back door.
Of course, they need clearing too, but there are ready-made beds underneath, so if I’m focused with my growing and reduce what I sow, I can use the patio beds for my favourite crops whilst I spend the summer creating my new veg patch in time for the 2018 season.
Life is busy at the mo, settling into a new job and trying to fix up the house, so I really need some extra time to build my dream veg patch. This change of plan will give me that, as well as providing me with a new challenge using the patio beds. I’ve always loved gardens on different levels, so I’m excited to see what we can create.
The first step has involved ripping out a load of dead and overgrown hawthorn and cover plants outside the back door.
Excuse the recycling and rubbish bin. It was wet and I was still in my pyjamas.
Here we’re going to create a herb garden, so we can just nip out the back door and grab some herbs for dinner. In a nice twist of fate, there is spearmint reappearing for spring, giving us our first herb for the bed before we’ve really got going.
‘Hopelessly Optimistic With Time’
I feel like I introduce changes in plans a lot – I’m sure my wife would say that has something to do with me being hopelessly optimistic with time, but allotments, gardens, and growing food are ever-evolving things. I’ve learnt that they have to adapt around our life situations and the amount of time we can dedicate, but this constant refinement is without a doubt a challenge that adds an intriguing extra layer of interest.
Over the past few years, I’ve really enjoyed growing less in a smaller garden space, rather than an allotment, and for this summer at least I’m going to be growing even less in an even smaller space.
I’ve refined my growing list to suspend everything but my favourite and most productive crops, such as tomatoes, courgettes, mangetout, and outdoor cues and we’ll soon be away – that said, I’m not sure I can resist a few broadies. Spring is in the air and my seed sowing fingers are twitching!