We’ve been thinking about a little experiment: turning an uncultivated, overgrown piece of land into an area that shows off what you can grow up here, on not that much space. We’ll be keeping track of the work we put into it, the seeds we sow, the materials we need, and the eventual harvest.
We’re building our showbed on an underused piece of land near our back door, by the shed/greenhouse, right by the side of the lane. Our lane is quiet – there’s only three other houses back here, but a decent amount of foot traffic to the little village shop. Until yesterday it had an overgrown box hedge all around it, so the first step was to remove this hedge. So far we’ve managed to cut it down and pry it out of the fence that we discovered inside the hedge! It would be great to dig it out eventually – depends on its roots. We’re not worrying about that yet – we can always cut it down again when it grows back. Eventually I’d like to grow a little lavender hedge (or, dream of dreams, stepover apples!). But that’s in the future – making this space accessible was our priority here, to let in light and allow us to start clearing it. The ground is in decent shape – the chickens used to live here, so it’s nice dug over and fertilised. There is plant mess round the outside – brambles, holly, ash trees – that we’ll need to get rid off. There’s also a rose, but it would be nice to retain this, and likewise the forsythia you see in bloom to the right. We will also need to fix our shed – we’ve suspected that it’s a bit rotten for a while now, but it was really only in removing the hedge that the damage became visible. We’re thinking of repairing that whole bottom left corner, where the glass panes are – removing the rotten wood and glass, and replacing it with fresh wood, possibly from pallets that we have. It’ll give this potting shed a new lease of life, and more rooms for us to store seedlings! We’ll paint it, too, eventually.
So, what’s our plan?
1. Clear overgrown mess around the sides of the space. Dig out brambles, and cut down everything else as far as possible.
2. Sow seeds. DONE
3. Line the new space with cardboard. We recently put a poster in the window and have already had some generous donations!
4. Add manure on top of the cardboard.
5. Plant things out.
I’ve already sowed a tray full of seeds for the showbed, with everything from lettuce to tomatoes. My trays have 180 modules so I sowed 36 different varieties of vegetable, with 5 seeds each (or multisowed in the case of beetroot, leek, onion, turnip, etc.). This should give us enough seedlings to fill this space, and a neat way to keep track of how much effort we’re putting in to growing a large variety of food. If we can do it, so can you! Hopefully next year this bed will be up and running with veg in it all year round, and we’ll be looking into selling packs of seedlings for different spaces.