“Building” and planting the new garden

The new garden in the hills is coming along nicely.  As described on 14 April 2013 I used what was at hand initially to begin the new veggie patches and I have continued to do this to make fertilise and enlarge them.  As I have an absolute aversion to either exporting or importing fertility or potential fertility I do everything I can to recycle garden “waste” as close to the place where it was generated as possible.  In addition I try to do this in ways that make next to no work for me.

There have been grass cuttings a-plenty over recent weeks and I have mostly been spreading them out on top of the newest part of the veggie patch (which was mostly unplanted).  Grass cuttings have also been used to mulch round plants in the rest of the patch, along the pathways crossing the bed and some have also been distributed around plants in the “hedgetable patch” as they were in danger of drying out before they became fully established.  As we are not here all the time they needed some help to retain moisture and the grass cuttings have helped with this.

As always happens I have raised more plants than I can accommodate in the existing beds so I needed to create more space and the end of the hedge bank behind my main veggie beds seemed the best place.  I initially tried to dig into the grass with a spade and with a trowel but it was like iron and I could not get more than about two inches down.  I’m not terribly strong anyway so I quickly gave that up and started piling up organic matter – lawn cuttings, upturned turf, twiggy / leafy hedge trimmings and some topsoil donated by the next door neighbour. 

My partner has been generating hedge trimmings and I wanted to ensure that they were incorporated into the garden straight away.  I was not sure initially what I would do with them, but looking at the veggie beds I decided I could use them to ‘build’ outwards from the side enlarging the growing area.  The edge has been held in place by a mix of large stones from under the hedge and longish branches also from the hedge.  I removed these and cut the soft new green growth off the trimmings and cut them into bits no more than 12 inches long (much was shorter than this) and let them pile up where they fell along the side of the bed.  The woody material, large twigs and small branches were laid neatly alongside the edge of the bed to make the edge again and the rocks replaced outside this.  Afterwards I also dropped some pea seeds in to add some life as they seem to be able to get started in fairly minimal amounts of soil.

DSCN5105 edge of A1 230613

To get the garden established I have been bringing as many and varied perennial veggies and supporting plants as possible from the other garden.  So far this bed is home to these plants. 

Jerusalem artichoke Raised from tubers saved last year
Oca Raised from tubers saved last year
Yacon Raised from tubers saved last year
Mashua Raised from tubers saved last year
Apios americana Purchased this year
Salsify Raised from seed
Skirret Plants raised from seed last year
Dahlia (a new root for me to try) Raised from seed
Potato An odd one from somewhere
Parsnip A single plant saved from last year, now flowering with the aim of it setting seed naturally
Field beans From seed saved last year
French beans From seed saved 2011
Peas From pack of peas dried for kitchen use
Daubenton’s kale From cutting
Nine star perennial kale From seed saved last year
Wild kale From cutting
Red Russian kale From seed saved last year
Asparagus Purchased
Wild rocket Some from purchased seed, one plant purchased
Flax From seed saved last year
Horseradish Purchased
Wild marjoram Transplanted from other garden
Chives Trans
Sage Purchased
Lemon balm Purchased
Wild leek transplanted
Nettle Transplanted as a green manure
A few miscellaneous wild plants Have just appeared as they do!
Gladioli! Corms going cheap in local shop!

The “hedgetable patch” is now home to:

Field beans From seed saved last year
Runner beans Purchased seed
Peas From pack of kitchen peas used on dry, slippy bits of bank as experiment
Skirret Raised from seed last year
Burdock Raised from seed last year
Lathyrus tuberosus Raised from seed last year
Three cornered leek Transplanted
Allium paradoxum Transplanted
Wild garlic Transplanted
Bunching spring onions Transplanted
Shallots Saved from last year
Wild kale From cuttings last year
Daubenton’s kale From cuttings last year
Nine star perennial broccoli From seed saved last year
Lamb’s lettuce Transplanted, now setting seed
Nettle In situ already
Raspberries Transplanted and a new autumn fruiting variety
Blackberries Purchased
Blackcurrant Transplanted from cuttings taken last year
Honeyberry Purchased
Tayberry Purchased
Wild strawberry Transplanted
Sweet cicely Transplanted
Primrose Transplanted
Phacelia Seed travelled in soil with transplants
Clematis and honeysuckle Purchased
Herb Robert Transplanted from another part of the hedge and used to stabilise the edge.
Saxifrage and bugle Transplanted from ornamental border and used to stabilise the edge.

This looks like (and is) a lot of plants in a small space.  On the one hand I am happy to concede that they may well be too close together and could suffer as a result.  On the other hand I had the ‘problem’ I always run into at this time of year – too many plants for the space available and I end up putting them in where I can on the basis that if they don’t all work then at least some will.  Also the beds are deep, particularly the hedgetable patch, and this should give the roots a place to dig into as the organic matter they are composed of decomposes.  I noticed a number of worms as I planted things yesterday, plus beetles, spiders and a chrysalis of some kind.  I have also added some fertility in the form of wood ash from the wood burner and meticulously saved over the cold months in order to use as fertiliser.  This photo shows the main patch with peas and yacon close to the front, mashua on the left, oca on the right.  The other plants are on the small side to see individually!

DSCN5161 A patches 300613

The signs are that the new beds are shaping up to become healthy and fertile in due course and based on experience at the other garden I have every reason to expect that they will.  There is lots still to do but I have had some initial small harvests of wild rocket, pea shoots, rosemary and thyme!

DSCN5108 first harvest 230613

About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Borderland Garden, forest garden development, Forest Gardening, perennial greens, Perennial Vegetables, Permaculture, Polycultures, roots and tubers. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Building” and planting the new garden

  1. Pingback: Of edges and hedges | Anni's perennial veggies

  2. ceridwen says:


    Am just saving this post – as a basis to work from. I’ve tried to do what I can with plants in pots in a backyard for some years at my current house. At long last, I will have a proper garden soon – as I am moving house. I want to produce as much food as I can – and perennial sounds good (less hassle) – so I think I might make life easy for myself to start with with the bit of the garden that’s already soil and throw in a “bit of a mix” and see what happens for the first year.

    That’s me sorted for one thing and I shall have to do some googling round to see what suggestions I can find re how to “breathe new life” into soil that has been covered up by paving for years…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.