...from the bracken!
Though it's taken so-o-o-o much longer than we expected to create, we are dead proud of this new experimental garden made on a shoestring - the Lawson Park Kitchen Garden. Its a southwest facing sloped site, some 50m x80m in size, that's around a quarter of an acre I guess.
The raised timber beds are mostly 4m x 4m (except of the large fruit bed), we would have liked them smaller for access but were stopped by the volume of materials we'd have needed. Paths are a generous 1.5 m wide, meaning great access, and finished in ungraded slate chippings, free locally.
Here's what I'll be trialling in the site this year, so far just celeriac, lettuce, broadbeans and tomatoes are sown in the unheated polytunnel:
Broad bean ‘ Green Windsor’
Dwarf french bean ‘ Purple Queen’
Runner bean ‘Czar’
Shungiku Chop Suey greens
Tomato Adine Cornue (in tunnel)
Parsley ‘Italian Giant’
Beetroot ‘Barabietola di Chioggia’
Leaf beet ‘Oriole’
Chinese cabbage ‘Nikko F1’
Broccoli Purple Sprouting Early
Corn salad ‘Louviers’
Squash ‘Blue Kuri’
Kale Dwarf green Curled
Courgette Partenon F1
Cucumber ‘Marketmore’ (in tunnel)
Lettuce ‘Rubens Red Cos’
Potatoes Red Duke Of York, Premiere, Maris Bard, Epicure and Orla
Each weekend is now being spent finishing the planting of a new mixed hedge(row) round the new kitchen garden which is around 60m x 40m in size. Up here we have to disregard the textbooks and plant regardless of the effects of the last few months of rain (or we'd never plant anything) meaning trenches like the Somme and a lot of sliding around and swearing into the mud as the mountain bikers fly past us on Sunday afternoons.
The site of the front of the hedge is exposed, full of rock, and very steep - this due to a paper miscalculation meaning that the raised bed grid of the garden took up rather too much room and pushed the perimeter forward. So to cap off the misery of planting into this we need to assemble some kind of narrow path to facilitate the occasional trim alongside it. The quantity of bracken in this area has led us to not only hand dig its tough black roots out, but also make the decision to plant the hedging into woven landscaping mulch fabric. The woven stuff frays very easily and I don't like working with it as much as the other softer unwoven kind, but I'm told its better. Cutting and fitting round the twiggy plants is slow and tedious work, and of course the whole lot needs a bark or gravel mulch to finish - but in the long run the hedge will get away faster and provide the much needed windbreak the vegetable beds need.
The hedge is trenches with wellrotted manure and the plant mix FYI is based on the most vigorous plants in the two very successful hedges so far planted here - one in 2001, now 6' high and one in 2005, now 4' high. Its around 40% hazel with the rest made up of beech, holly, swedish whitebeam, sloe, guelder rose, cherry plum and amelenchier ovalis (this last for the plain reason I managed to grow dozens from seed) with the odd fuchsia for glamour.
As with the rest of the garden we pray the deer have tastier hors d'oeuvres elsewhere as there's no fencing....
This, dear reader, is destined THIS YEAR to become a new kitchen garden! It's an area around 60m x 40m, gently sloping south west and previously smothered in bracken. Our produce will be grown in raised beds with imported topsoil , and we are optimistically layering cardboard between what remains of the bracken and the topsoil to attempt an organic eradication of the pest....Watch this space for news on whether that works....
Since this photo was taken, the lucky beehives have received their own levelled off area (though their honeycomb shaped shed remains as yet unfinished though tres rustique) and two massive compost bins have been installed. However, a bizarre local famine of the planned larch poles means we will be sadly using more 'finished' planks to make the beds, though this will no doubt give the are a more stylish appearance.
What was it the contractor said when gazing down at it ?
"It's never gonna be Kew Gardens, is it?"
Au contraire, mate!