Beginning of April. Time to restore the vegetable garden. The carpets have been down for a couple of years, grass, nettles and brambles have spread across them, branches trimmed from hedges and trees last Autumn are strewn everywhere. At the time we had some reason for putting them there but can't think what it was, probably just couldn't think of what else to do with them.
But now! What will we find under the carpets?
Only one way find out.
Without further delay we began rolling them back, one bed at a time. The first bed was full of grass roots, some looked dead but others seemed to be biding their time waiting for daylight to re-enter their world. Better leave nothing to chance and dig them up. From one bed we pulled out a whole wheelbarrow full of couch grass roots.
The first bed finished we dug in the muck and covered again with fresh membrane. Then moved on to the second bed.
The boards were rotton and needed replacing. More expense from our retirement budget, but the 4.8m boards were duely orders, delivered and nailed into place. We will need a bumper crop to cover the costs of this renovation, but now with all three beds repaired, weeded, dug over and generously fertilised with manure from the resident horses the vegetable garden raised beds are once again ready to grow delicious food for the caterpillers, slugs and birds (and us if we are lucky).
But, regardless, another retirement project up and running. At the end of the first week of May we planted our first seeds directly into the garden. In the middle bed we planted rows of fennel, beetroot, cabbage and corn.
In the middle of May we planted out the butternut and patty pan squashes which we had raised from seed, first in the house in seed trays and later in the green house in individual pots. We are already contending with slugs. Our aspirations to be organic evaporated when we resorted to slug pellets. Ah well! But so far they are working.
Finally at the end of May we planted bean and peas, bought as seedlings. The beans: runner, broad and french, were planted in the top bed. The pine tree is at the North end of the garden so we hope it won't shade them too much. Also the label said they like acid soil so maybe they will cope OK with the pine needles.
We decided to plant both the squashes and the beans through holes cut in the protective membrane. Our idea is that they will keep down the weeds and stop more pine needles falling onto the soil.
Following the instructions from RHS we sunk plant pots next to the squash so that we can provide them with adequate water when the fruits set without rotting off the stems. We've never managed to grow anything other than the leaves before so here's hoping we are more successful this time.
Our previous attempt to grow beans have generated heavy crops but we had difficulty harvesting them due to inadequate support. This time we constructed a shanty town of been poles in various wigwam combinations. As you can see we aren't experts at this and a lot of our efforts will be trial and error. It sounds so easy when you just read the instructions from an on-line guide.
Now there was no room for the peas and many of the herbs. The pine tree has made the end of the top bed unsuitable, so we planted the peas in large patio pots and found them, and some of the herbs, a sunny position on the south side of the house.