I have made some changes in the Borderland garden over the past two weeks. The vegetable patch begun last year (for a polyculture of perennial vegetables) has been moved and fruit trees planted.
The vegetable patch was in the way of a planned extension to the house and needed to be moved. For anyone who has not read last year’s posts about the development of this bed it was constructed from a mixture of twigs, branches, decomposed humus-y material from the hedge, upturned lawn turf and grass and hedge trimmings. Considering its’ haphazard ‘construction’ the amount of growth the plants made was quite astonishing and the produce was good as well.
The branches and twigs that had formed the edges of the bed were used as a foundation for the new one and just laid on top of the grass. This was covered with the remaining materials – mainly soil plus smaller twigs. It was interesting to see how things had developed in the bed over time – it was still a long way off what you could call a well formed soil, but it had lots of worms and in one part the mycelia resulting from the breakdown of woody material was very evident.
A very low hazel edging has been put round the bed to ensure that it all looks neat and tidy. It has been planted up with the plants that were in the former bed:
- Perennial kales
- Sea beet
- Perennial leeks
- Welsh onions
- Wild rocket
- Clumping spring onions
- Radish (last year’s kept for seed)
- Carrot (also for seed)
- Around the edge are herbs – wild marjoram, fennel, mint, lemon balm
I have added some other things:
- Flowers – to help stabilise the edges of the bed and for the insects and bees – foxglove, bugle, honesty, forget me not, toad flax, creeping Jenny, violet, pulmonaria plus some summer flowering bulbs, a camellia and another flowering shrub.
- For nitrogen fixing and to eat – field bean and peas have been sown.
- To get more of the soil covered with plants I have scattered some saved flax seeds on and will throw some spare phacelia seeds on later today.
At the moment the main thing is to get things growing in it as that is my way of ensuring the vitality, health and fertility of the soil.
In due course I will also plant:
- Roots – probably Jerusalem artichoke, oca, yacon and scorzonera
- Beans – some new varieties to experiment with
- Anything else I can fit in!
I have also planted some fruit trees – four are in so far with one more to go. I wanted fruit trees from the outset but have taken some time to observe the garden and think about what to get. There are so many to choose from and I found it a daunting task. However it was made easier discovering some heritage Welsh apple trees in a local garden centre. A bit of internet research revealed Ian Sturrock and Sons, Welsh Fruit Tree Nursery in Bangor, north Wales. They specialise in researching and trialling ancient varieties and have a range of rare fruit trees for sale. I have bought:
- Apple – Trwyn Mochyn (Pig’s Snout), a large green cooking apple from Anglesey first recorded in the 1600s.
- Plum – Denbigh, the only native Welsh plum to survive, first mentioned in 1785.
- Damson – Abergwyngregyn, from a single tree growing on the Menai Straits which is thought to be over two hundred years old.
- Cherry – Cariad, bred to do well in the Welsh climate and tested along the Menai Straits for ten years.
I have planted one other apple – Sunset. It is a small apple, similar to a Cox but more disease resistant. This came from another nursery near home.
It will be some years before these one and two year old trees begin to bear fruit, but I am already relishing the thought. In the meantime there will be harvests of raspberries, blackcurrants, jostaberries, gooseberries, loganberries, tayberries, chokeberries and wild strawberries. These are already in the garden and I plan to add more types of fruit later this year.
Here are a couple of pictures to show how things look at present:
It was really lovely being outside and feeling spring coming ever closer with crocuses in flower, warming sunshine, chirruping birdsong and that intangible knowledge that spring is in the air.