Making plans in (almost) winter

The Queen’s Birthday long weekend is over and I’m back at my desk. I spent a good part of the weekend making plans for the garden, scribbling down several lists, and a small part of it outside, talking over my plans with G and taking photos of what’s happening out in the garden right now. 

The first list I made covered all the different vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers that I’d like to grow in the vegetable plot that I’m planning, plus whether these are annual or perennial so I can eventually decide where they should go. I’m trying to keep it to things I know we’ll eat (there is no point in planting cauliflower or Brussel sprouts) and plants that will attract bees and butterflies, but I keep finding more interesting ideas.

The trees have nearly lost all of their leaves, so pruning will hopefully be starting soon.

So I then made an even more important list: the projects I have in mind for the garden and what I need to do for these before I can set them in motion. The very first one is pruning and clearing – as you can see from the photos above and below, there is plenty to be done on that front.

Despite my interest in growing as much food as possible, the vegetable garden is third on the list; the next is transforming the front garden into something that’s low maintenance (but still looks nice from the street) and happy to cope with the afternoon sun.

A vine has climbed into one of the trees, so I’ll need to remove that as part of the pruning and clearing process.

I have been looking at native plants, but a camellia and a rhododendron are already growing very happily there (despite the hot afternoon sun!) and I’m reluctant to move them. This is also making me wonder about the soil – camellias and rhododendrons both like acidic soil – and what will be both happy in these conditions and look right alongside these two shrubs. More research – and a soil-testing kit – is required.

The vegetable garden also requires more research – companion planting for the additional herbs and flowers that I’ve added to the list, and how to make a no-dig, raised garden. My mum transformed our entire front garden in this way when I was a kid, layering newspaper, manure and straw and planting through this.

Daffodil bulbs appearing – I’ve been growing these in a pot for the last few years and am planning on planting them out into the garden… somewhere.

Like mother like daughter, my plans are also starting to take over a good portion of the backyard – I fell in love with a picture of Alys Fowler’s lovely garden, where everything is all planted in together, earlier this year. I am thinking of doing something similar in the part of our garden closest to the house (getting rid of the lawn, installing a different washing line and creating one large polyculture bed) … and am planning to read her book The Edible Garden for inspiration and advice.

G and I walked around the front and back garden on Sunday afternoon, looking at what was already growing (including all the bulbs that have appeared) and mapping out how much space I was hoping to turn into vegetable garden and berry patch, where the compost bins could go and possible locations for chickens, bees (yes, they’re also on my list of possible future projects) and a pizza oven (on G’s list of future projects).

The mini-greenhouse up the back of the yard, just big enough for me and the seedlings.

He also put up, with a bit of help from me, the little greenhouse we’d bought about a month ago for my planned tomato testing. It’s quite small and probably not a long-term solution, but it will allow me to get tomatoes, cucumbers and other summer vegetable seeds started earlier and keep them protected from the cold; my final list of the weekend was what I would grow and plant out in the blue containers this summer before the vegetable patch is up and running.

These aren’t all of my plans – as I mentioned, we’re also thinking about chickens and bees; plus, I’m looking at which edible plants will have to grow in pots (I wouldn’t let mint loose in a garden bed) and where these will go (indoors or outside). However, this has been a very long post already, so I’ll describe these another time!


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