Saturday, 20 September 2008

New beds up the garden path

The last few weeks have not been idle ones Up The Garden Path although as autumn arrives and the days are shorter and the nights cooler, things have been slowing down - including the weeds thank goodness! This year has been a learning curve - or maybe I should say the last six months as we haven't been living from the garden for a full year yet.

Our freezer is packed full of vegetables and fruit and I hope very much that together with any winter veg we succeed in growing, this will see us through the winter months. But of course, some things were more plentiful than others. We will be sick of French Beans before the year is out but wondering where all the peas are. There are no Broad Beans left in the freezer at all and all the onions have been used up - although that's partly the fault of the family who insisted on THREE batches of chutney this year. I have enough stewed apples to satisfy the entire planet's desire for apple crumble and apple pie. Also masses of blackcurrant and blackberries - but no raspberries or strawberries at all.

In an effort to put this right I recently ordered 40 bare-rooted strawberry plants; 20 each of Gariguette and Manille. For the past week I have been frantically digging two 10 metre long beds in a new piece of land which we will use as a veggie plot extension. Ultimately there will be three beds there this year and then about three more in the spring (if I still have the energy!) Yesterday the strawberries arrived and I spent two hours planting them through plastic. This morning they are still standing so I must have got something right! According to Alan Titchsmarsh's book planting them now will give us a decentish crop next year. They are under plastic because I simply don't have the time to weed every single vegetable bed and I plant as much under plastic as possible. I have bought a strong green plastic than can be re-used for several years. As in most things, a compromise between saving the planet and saving my back/time.

I also ordered some raspberry canes - these will arrive next week or soon after and there's a rush on to finish the third bed!

I would like this new piece of land to be, as much as possible, permanent beds although at least one bed will be part of our annual crop rotation (all those onions!). So as well as the fruit there will also be a bed for artichokes - I have six plants raised from seed already and waiting - and also a new asparagus bed. I planted asparagus eight years ago but it has only ever given us enough for two people on a strict diet. I think I planted them all too close together. Whatever, we don't get enough and a new bed there will be to supplement it.

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