Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Gardener I Am Not!

Thank you for all the comments on my last post, Little Miss did very well at the competition and came home with a medal, so all was good in this house!

This is a post I wrote a while ago and couldn't publish as the photos were disappearing (I think they still are), it's a little out of date and I'll do another to show garden progress soon, things have moved on obviously. The photos are still disappearing and this time they were purely uploaded from a file on my pc so I'm none the wiser, Google + seems to be saving my pictures automatically so I'm wondering if there's connection??

Anyway this is the post, from about 2-3 weeks ago..... (with a couple of added updates, it may be a bit muddly, apologies in advance!)

I have vaguely mentioned on occasion that I've been gardening, I've been doing lots (of digging mainly) and was particularly inspired this year to plant a few vegetables. There is a lot of inspiration in blogland and CJ at Above the River has inspired me in particular.

In our garden we have several fruit trees which seem to look after themselves, some years we have an abundance of fruit other years none, I've no idea why.

The builder mainly strims, cuts hedges and mows the lawn, the manly stuff which involves "equipment". Mostly I faff about, spend money on plants which, I believe, I weed out and chuck in the bin as soon as they stop flowering, either that or there's a prolific plant thief about these parts!

This weeks hasty pre-match strimming resulted in this

Yes a smashed window, and the biggest pane of glass we actually have in the house!!
You may also note that the door has no handle (it's been on the windowsill for 4 years) and
a polly-fillered hole beneath where the handle should be. There is a matching filled hole on the French doors directly above (our bedroom balcony/death trap door).
 A few years ago we were woken early on several consecutive mornings by "someone"
knocking at the downstairs doors, then , more worryingly, knocking at the upstairs doors.
Everytime we looked there was nothing there, until one morning I came face to face with a woodpecker! Who had carefully drilled two gaping holes in the outside of the doors!
 He's not been back since he saw my early morning face, but the unpainted repair remains......

Back to the gardening......
My dislike of gardening is deep rooted although I'm trying to change that. My childhood was spent pottering around the garden with my beloved Grandad, he spent all his time gardening, building dwarf walls, laying crazy paving (it was around 1970) and generally tending his plants. A highlight was a trip to Percy Thrower's garden when I was small, if I remember correctly he was much admired by Grandad, apparently as we strolled around the garden Percy himself appeared and patted me on the head!

My Mum also fancied herself as a gardener (still does and has a garden landscaped to within an inch of it's life) and spent every weekend at garden centres; this is when I started to hate it.
I would be woken (in my teens, needing to sleep 'til noon!) on Sunday morning at the crack of dawn (with hindsight it was probably 9am).
 Mum would call my full name loudly with an "ey" on the end - I hate, hate, hate that!
There would also be loud background music on the record player - either Dolly Parton or
Tammy Wynette - I'm sure you get the picture!

I would be dragged to the garden centre for hours and the boot of the car would be loaded up with trees, shrubs and plants and off home we would go. As I had no brothers or sisters and only lived with my Mum, Sundays were incredibly boring, and that's what I associate gardening with.

Anyhoo, my childhood is at least 20 years ago...... oh ok maybe a little longer; so I should be able to get over this fear of the garden.

We made attempts to tend little patches when we first moved into this house but as we had so much work to do on the house the garden was eventually left to run wild. On completing the house (until we started phase 2,3 and 4) we hired a digger and pretty much bulldozed everything flat.
 We laid a patio and some steps and The Builder built himself a shed the size of a bungalow.

We also uncovered the well in the garden which had originally supplied all our water.
And it was renovated to this...
But over the years the weeds have crept back and my attempts at gardening have been a little lame. It's not entirely my fault as for some projects I need a bit of muscle, and he's always at work, or cricket!

I have over the years grown a few things in pots, I often have a tin bath full of mixed lettuce leaves but this year I've branched out. My tin bath now contains beetroot, lettuce and parsnips. I don't know how they'll get on together or if they actually like container growing but they're looking ok at the moment.

 I also branched out with some grow bags containing tomatoes and strawberry plants - go me!
All of the above are now much larger, the photos are about a month old! 
Please excuse the surroundings, this area is directly outside our kitchen and some years ago we laid the base for an extension come orangery to be added. It was to enable us to have a much bigger kitchen table and become more of a family room to accommodate our growing family. However the money ran dry yet again (and the builder ran out of steam!) and the base remains but nothing else was ever built. I keep leaving it in the hope that one day it will be completed, unfortunately I suspect it'll be done just after the children leave home and we won't need the space!
I do have a few herbs growing in pots because I use them quite a bit.
The fruit trees are looking good this year although even though there are buds of fruit
 it doesn't mean to say they'll survive!

The blossom on the apple tree (above) is now gone and the tiny fruits are appearing, Bramley apples, great for a pie or a crumble.
 Loads of plums, for the first time in years
 Apricots, again a tree full after a barren 4-5 years
 Pears, which will change to downward pointing when they get heavier,
we always have lots of pears

And cherries, until something eats them - probably a mouse last year as the tree was netted from birds - we've yet to eat one single cherry from this tree!
But my biggest project which I'm determined will not lapse back into a pile of nettles and other weeds is this....

It's a little patch where I have my compost bins and a couple of current bushes and some rhubarb.
It's also the spot where we throw all the garden rubbish and occasionally have a bonfire. Over the years the heap has got bigger and bigger.

I'm fed up with looking at a pile of rubbish and the weeds begin to wrap themselves around the little fruit bushes and drown them.

The digging has commenced, (a few weeks ago now) the pile of rubbish is getting smaller as I dig the bottom of it back into the soil and remove the stones and broken bricks
 (what were they doing on a bonfire?)
I'm going to carry on until I have a nice, dug over, neat square.
Ideally I would like four raised beds, I find it easier with boundaries, as I'm not a natural gardener.
But for now I'll try to keep on top of this bit.
As most gardening needs to be taken care of during the summer months I have a problem in that the Builder is usually working longer days and at cricket every time he has a spare moment.
I do get cross when I find out he's taken the afternoon off to mow the pitch!
I have planted a few more seeds of beetroot and some carrots; next on my list is onions and garlic as we eat a fair amount of those; I think I'm probably too late for this year.
Update : I am keeping on top of it despite the weather making everything grow faster than I can move! The onions (red and white) are planted but the garlic got forgotten.
 However the bonfire is growing again, but so are my veggies, and I have a little idea in my head about having a tiny greenhouse. My birthday isn't too far away and I may ask for a greenhouse or a hoe, I'll probably get a toaster if previous birthdays are anything to go by!
This is another area I've been working hard on, the hedgerow between our garden and the field. It's very brambly in places and full of hedge roots which makes for hard digging. I've tried to build it up in places and cover with bark chippings.

 The half I've done is above, (note the abandoned cricket stumps!)
 and then turn around to see the bit I've yet to do!

 It's amazing what you find lost amongst the weeds!
 There are some pretty flowers around too, very much by luck not any skill on my part, these pictures are a few weeks old now but we still have some colour in the garden.

 It's hard work this gardening mallarky, especially when you're the only one doing it!
Have a good week wherever you are and whatever you're doing.




  1. Phew, I am tired just reading this post. It is amazing what you have achieved in this short time! CJ is a truly inspiring gardener, you are right. Hope there are no muntjacs where you live... that woodpecker is a cheeky thing! I have given up on my vegetables already but continue to look after my flowers. Richard is doing a good job with the edibles. I hope. I have decided that perennials is the way to go, I plant them at the rate of about one or two plants per year and it is starting to look good. I have also domesticated some of the weeds. I look forward to your next garden update. Do you really want a hoe?? Cx

    1. Actually Christina we are over run with muntjac in this part of the country, rarely in the garden though. And yes I believe I do want a hoe, prefer the greenhouse though!
      Maybe training the weeds is the way forward!

  2. Thanks for the mention Jay, I'm glad you're feeling inspired. You've been working really hard and it's all looking good. I really love the railway sleepers along the edge of your bed. It's something I'd like to do along the edge of our patio, but they're not in the budget at the moment. Your fruit trees are doing well, it promises to be a good year for fruit I think. I love the patch you've been digging, you've made a fantastic job of it. Your garden is wonderful, such a lovely big space. I shall look forward to following your progress! CJ xx

  3. You have been busy and your new vegetable patch is looking good. Do you have quite sandy soil too? It must be quite hard doing most of the work on your own. We have always worked together and encouraged each other. Unfortunately I think we were a bit like your Mum and used to drag our children to garden centres at weekends! My son in his late teens used to enjoy helping at our allotment (for payment!) and my daughter loves cutting down things in the garden so hopefully we haven't damaged them for life! Sarah x

  4. Well I think you are doing yourself a great injustice. The garden looks lovely.. and big for someone who doesn't really enjoy gardening. Lots of lawn.. good plan. And the cricket practice will save you having to do much pruning :-(
    Fruit trees do seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to producing, or not.
    Himself strimmed a hole a foot long in the net that covers the brassica cage today. I give up!

  5. I think your garden is looking good and it must be great to see all the work you have done.

  6. I can see how much hard work you've put in already. Gardening is hard going and people often don't realise, I think that's why many people take on an allotment and give it up after the first year, they come down and dig it over and expect that to be it for the year, they don't realise that weeds grow again just as soon as you turn your back and you have to keep on top of them. I hope you do get a greenhouse for your birthday, I love mine. It's only tiny, 4 foot by 6 foot, but it's somewhere for all my seedlings to grow and I manage to fit a few tomato and cucumber plants in it once the seedlings have been evicted. It's such a shame that many people are put off gardening as children, it's a wonderful hobby and it's good for us on so many levels. Hope your veggies do well for you.

  7. You're right, it's a lot of work!!! We're on about an acre and just beating back the weeds takes most of our time. I need to get out front and weed and have my husband chop some stuff down because things are so overgrown our house is starting to look abandoned.
    I think you've done wonders. You work, have kids, outside commitments and still you've done so much.

  8. You're doing really well, and it looks like a big garden. Keep going. Can't you just ask for cash for your Birthday and then order the greenhouse you want.

  9. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you in the birthday present department.
    You have been so busy, planting and clearing, I hope all your plants flourish and provide you with a good supply of fruit and veg.
    Lisa x

  10. Wow you have the wonderland of a property, you don't really need to do any gardening it's so verdant. In NZ gardening is the number one pastime - I just don't have the gene

  11. What a gorgeous property!
    It looks like a lot of work, for someone who doesn't like to garden, you have it looking so tended. I've never grown plums, but apples and pears very successfully. You have quite a small farm's worth of food in your yard!

  12. Your garden is amazing Jay! For someone who doesn't like to garden there is an awful lot of productivity going on in there! All those lovely fruit trees and pretty garden beds. Vegetable patches are a constant work in progress so don't be despaired - it goes from bare earth to jungle in no time at all. Looking forward to the updates! Mel x

  13. good luck with your gardening! Its looking wonderful, especially with all your fruit! I have a plum tree which is going to have a heavy crop again this year, as well as an apple tree that's had nothing on it for two years, now branches covered with baby apples!! My cherry trees are also yet to provide us with a single one; given the local birds take to feasting on them!
    BH x

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