My general aims for both gardens this year are:
- To increase the amount of produce from the perennial vegetables already under cultivation – essentially by having more plants.
- To extend the area under cultivation – in the Borderland garden.
- To try some new crops – mainly different varieties of peas and beans, plus some grain and seed crops.
Extending the area under cultivation
In the Borderland garden the new polyculture patch has been extended further using multiple layers of turf (removed from lawn near the house) laid on top of hawthorn hedge trimmings. It has been sown with pea and bean seeds and will have some flowers sown or planted soon. I found last year that peas and beans grow well in upturned turf. I am not in a hurry and just want this area to have a chance to bed down, for the turfs to decompose whilst allowing nitrogen fixers and other beneficial plants to play their part in enriching the soil.
On the roadside along the boundary hedge I have taken up the rough grass and other plants to make a bit of a border. I turned the grass / plants upside down and put them under the hedge to decompose and planted oca, beans, peas and flowers in the new border. This soil here is already very deep, soft and it certainly appears fertile so I have not felt the need to allow it time to build fertility before planting.
Earlier this year I planted this hedge edge with golden hop, jostaberries, blackcurrants and primroses (from the other garden) together with a small plum tree and day lilies (gifts) and a bought loganberry to join mallow, wild garlic, broom, wild flowers and a few other bits and pieces already in place.
Beside the house where the lawn has been removed I am planning a conglomeration of flowering things. These will be for the benefit of bees and other insects, for visual delight and possibly with some edible bits as well.
Increasing the amount of produce and trying new crops
In the Telford garden I have planted out shallots, oca, yacon, potatoes. Corn and peas are sown, with beans and more peas to come later. Because of the house sale I am keeping it simple as I cannot be sure how long we will remain here. Although having said that there has been very little interest so far as unfortunately I live in an area that is being utterly swamped with new housing and it is proving harder for people to sell older properties so we could be here for a very long time to come.
As far as trying new crops goes I would like to grow plants that provide as wide a range of nutrients as possible. Most vegetables are very watery in content and their nutritional value lies primarily in the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients they encapsulate; although some roots, like potatoes, are carbohydrate rich. I want to grow more of my own carbohydrates, protein and oils which means more grains, peas, beans and seeds.
So far I have put in a few sunflower seeds, but plan to plant as many sunflowers as possible in the next few weeks. Where I have removed some ‘weeds’ I have scattered flax seeds and plan to go round tomorrow scattering some more.
This is, I think, just about the loveliest time of year. Today’s early morning dappled sunlight, birdsong with the joy of so many flowers and the attendant buzzing of insects was just divine! Here are two pictures from the Telford garden:
It doesn’t look like there is much room for vegetables, but I just slot them in between the flowers (or take the flowers out if they are over or in the way).