patch from scratch main plot

I Cancelled the Veg Box! A Patch from Scratch, July Update (featuring some before and after photos)

Since my last update, something amazing has happened.

I’ve been able to cancel the veg box that has been keeping me in vegetables since last year. This might not sound much, but for me, it’s monumental.

I need to plug my awesome local organic farmer, Sarah Green, here. Every Friday since I gave up the allotment, Sarah and her team have delivered an organic veg box to my door for just £8.

And that price hasn’t gone up since the last time I had a delivery, 5 years ago. Check out Sarah’s website, or follow her on Twitter.

To finally be harvesting in earnest from my veg patch is a big thing and makes me proud. I’ve gone from this:

patch from scratch July update

…and this…

patch from scratch July

…and this…

July update

To this…

patch from scratch main plot

(there should be broad beans and mangetout wigwams in the above pic rather than the gaping hole, but Ailsa deleted my photos off the camera to make space for ones of Lewis. Therefore I had to take more after I’d yanked them out, but more on that later. The broad beans and mangetout coming out, not Ailsa deleting photos)

…and this…

patch update

…and this…

patch from scratch July update

…and this…

July patch update

…in just over a year.

There was a fair amount of graft involved, but it was worth every bead of sweat, even if I do have to be a yoga specialist to get around the patch.

This Season’s Harvest
So far this season, I’ve harvested rhubarb, radish, salad, carrots, beets, broad beans, strawberries, gooseberries, mangetout, courgette, potatoes, cucumbers, chard, and peas.

Exciting times, and apologies for any smugness when I say how happy I am that a scruffy, unloved bit of garden has become a useful, productive veg patch.

Blackfly and Bolting Chard
Veg patch life has not all been easy though.

I took the decision to whip out my broad beans last weekend (you can see the gap, in photos above). I was removing blackfly every day, and once I saw the pests spreading to the courgettes and French beans, I decided to quit whilst I was ahead. I harvested, podded, and froze all the beans to preserve the other plants.

I’ve since been given the tip that Autumn sown broadies are far less susceptible to blackfly than spring ones, but there does seem to be lots of blackflies around this year. I’ve been spraying them off the courgette and French beans with hot, soapy water and I think I’m winning for now.

The perpetual spinach (you can make this out in the photo of the side bed above) went to seed very early, which has left me puzzled. I have never, ever had any problems with perpetual spinach, and normally one sowing lasts me 9 months before bolting. I’m guessing the topsy turvy weather of spring caused it, but I have missed harvesting these leaves. They’re a favourite in my house, but another sowing now should see me through winter, when I really need them.

Mangetout Wigwams
My mangetout wigwam is out as well, having finished cropping. Growing up a wigwam has been an interesting experiment. They look really attractive, and the Golden Sweet variety I grew was productive. The plants yielded about 2.5kg of mangetout from a space roughly 9ft x 9ft which I reckon is pretty good going.

patch update

However, with hindsight, I’m not so sure about my wigwam experiments. I put the plum in the middle of the plot, which has taken up valuable space (about 21 square feet) that I could have used for other plants. Looking back peas and mangetout would have made a better choice next to fences than my leafy winter greens, leeks, and squashes.

Some Order for Next Year
Although productive, my patch is a bit of a jungle and now I’m trying to water, harvest, and nurture I’ve beginning to appreciate that some order might be useful. I’m veering once more towards a set of raised beds, especially since the soil is like concrete where I’m walking around.

Constantly Evolving
I’m finding that with a small plot you’re constantly analysing how best to use the space, and refining in your head all the time. It’s different from an allotment, as space is plentiful.

Not a day goes by without me thinking about moving this to accommodate that. The exhilarating thing about growing in a small space is that the planting plan and area is constantly evolving.

Nothing ever stops. Whether you’re pulling out plants and immediately replacing with something else, or spending time honing your patch, things are always on the move.

P.S I’ve also made another little film – I enjoy doing as these films as they show the space much better than a photo can. You’ll be please to know that the film is nowhere near as long as the last one, and I’ll post it up later in the week.

9 thoughts on “I Cancelled the Veg Box! A Patch from Scratch, July Update (featuring some before and after photos)”

  1. That first photo scared me, as I thought it was a current one!

    If you don’t need to do some yoga to move around the veggie garden, you’re not doing it right! 🙂

    The biggest challenge with a small space is trying to figure out how to rotate crops so you don’t grow the same thing in the same spot each year.

    1. Hey Alan, yes, that’s something I’ve been thinking about too. I think the second year will be okay, but its the third one that might be a headache.

      Depends on how many of my fruit bushes I decide to move…

  2. Have just got back from a 10 day walking trip in Austria to find everything has gone crazy on my allotment plot.
    My Golden Sweet peas are getting to the podding rather than mangetout stage.

    Autumn sowing of broad beans is not very practical up here in the North,but I find that pinching out the top two inches of spring grown broad beans stops the blackfly and encourages more side stems.

    Don’t go for raised beds unless you have to!
    I have them in my garden for the formal look and to cope with a thin layer of soil on top of nearly exposed limestone. Before getting my allotment plot I did use them to grow veg. However they are very “hungry” and need constant importing of soil and compost to keep them in good heart and tend to become divorced from the land around them. There are very few worms in my raised beds but hundreds in an equivalent sized area on my open plot.
    Also ,fixed pathways end up wasting space whereas planting in open ground is more flexible.

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks so much for that – I really do change my mind every day about raised beds. On what hand they look neat, I can implement no dig easier and they’ll bring some form.

      I do have lots of reservation about hungry they’ll get. I have good supplies of leaf mould, seaweed and manure nearby but I just wonder if they’ll actually become quite expensive and resource intensive to maintain.

  3. I planted broad beans in October, had no black fly at all, they cropped in June, were taken out a month later and now there are some peas in their place. The beans were there for me when there wasn’t much else to take off the plot. I will certainly do that again. (Although you can guarantee my smugness will be punished!)

  4. Hi just found your blog and I am enjoying reading it. Have you thought of ‘fixed beds’ rather than raised beds. I use them at my allotment as I couldn’t afford the wood, but they work a treat. You just have paths at the side of your beds (paths=slabs, weed suppressant or just compressed soil), but don’t walk on the beds. The beds are the same width as you would have raised beds. As you add manure/compost each year, your beds raise slightly in height and it’s just as easy as raised beds except you are growing into the normal soil.

  5. Hey NJGF, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the fixed bed suggestion. I’ve been thinking about it today and I reckon you’re absolutely right. Fixed beds sound like the perfect compromise of still growing in the soil, but providing some order and stopping compression.

    1. Jono,
      I think that NJGF is dead right with his assertions.Originally before my plot was fenced in I planned to have it as no dig strips with “paths” in between and work it from the sides.However after fencing in (to guard against the non existent rabbits) I’ve gone for semi walk beds from a middle path.
      But the key thing is not to plonk raised beds on what is perfectly good soil in the first place.

      ( I was a bit of a raised bed convert but have now regressed!)

      PS now suffering from Golden Sweet pea overload.

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