Thursday, 30 January 2014

The vegetable patch

After a few weeks of looking at a bare vegetable patch I have decided that this weekend is the time to make a move on it.

When I first moved into the house I had some fairly large flowerbeds in various places around the garden. The largest of these is at the far end and benefits from almost all day sun. After a little deliberation this is the one I selected to be the veg patch.

In early November I set about clearing this back to a point where I could start digging. it was full of shrubs perennial flowers and even a couple of ornamental trees, this of course all had to go. I've never really been one to grow flowers but I imagine it looked quite impressive when it was first designed. however it had been neglected  for a while and with me attempting to live off the land as much as possible this year the sacrifice had to be made.

I've thought about different approaches to take when it comes to digging. Double digging (digging to twice the depth of your spades blade) seems a bit unnecessary but could be of benefit in particular areas. This main veg patch is for any of my larger plants and also for anything I am to grow a lot of. So when it comes to digging, things like potatoes will require planting in soil that has been dug to a deeper depth than salad leaves for example. Of course a decent depth and tilth all over would be ideal, you would be better off digging it all to a good depth than having some areas very deep and some not dug at all.

I have a picture in my head of where things are going to go but I'm sure this will evolve as the year goes on. It's already split into sections by logs and stone walls so these will stay and at the same time divide my workload up for me. I'll tackle a bit at a time and it should all be dug to a decent depth in time for spring. To improve it further I will be incorporating some homemade compost whilst digging. it can be difficult to judge how good your soil is when you first start so it's always a good idea to add some manure or compost and dig it in well, this way you can be sure the nutrients needed for healthy growth are in the soil. This is best done a couple of months before planting anything, that way it has time to break down and get worked into the soil.

Already waiting to go in I have two broad bean seedlings, these have reached around twelve inches so far. There's not much more I can offer them inside on my windowsill without potting them onto larger pots. Their space inside will soon be occupied by something else so the sooner I get them outside the better now. I have been hardening them off this week so it shouldn't be too much of a shock for them, plus they'll really benefit from all that extra rooting space. Broad beans are pretty tough as far as seeds go and can also be planted direct outside. I might do this with a couple alongside the indoor reared ones as a comparison to see whats best for next year.

By no means will my vegetables be restricted solely to the veg patch, I intend to grow anywhere possible this year. The vegetable patch will be at the heart of it all but I wont be happy until I can walk from one end of the garden to the another picking fresh fruit and veg all the way.

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