Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Thursday, 23 February 2012

No More Mud!

Carrying on from my last post, the two tons of gravel and 1 ton of topsoil were duly delivered on Tuesday by a very happy chap from New Milton Sand and Ballast. 

We quickly realised that 1 wheelbarrow wasn't going to do the job so a quick chat with a very accommodating neighbour and we were a two barrow team. off we went, backwards and forwards, at least this time we were tipping the stuff straight into place rather than putting it in one place to be moved again at a later date. Time flew by and before we knew it the beds were finally finished. 

It was now just a matter of putting down the gravel, by 4pm the two gravel sacks were empty and wouldn't you know it, there wasn't enough... back on the phone to get more delivered wednesday morning.

Wednesday Morning, same slightly bemused delivery man, who wondered what we were doing with all this stuff, but was rather impressed that we had moved the 3 tons he had delivered only 24 hours earlier. He went away happy when Jim managed to get rid of his bits of odd scaffold board offcuts to go under the drivers hydraulic things that stop the lorry from tipping over ( Sorry don't know techie name ).

So there we were again back and forward, but at 12 I had to leave to go to my charity job, so when I got home at 5pm it was to a finished job, and it looks wonderful, Jim had even used some old turfs we had saved to repair the grass in the entrance, 100's of trips with a wheelbarrow since October had decimated it.  

It looks a bit different now from when we moved in

Now I have do all that hard work justice by actually growing something. The seeds I planted are coming on nicely and I have so much to plant out in the next few weeks I am really looking forward to it. I also have lots of plans to pretty the beds up a bit and make a nice little courtyard garden seating area alongside the greenhouse. To this end I decided for recycle the large wooden rolls that the cable for the lights came on. One is already painted and the other will get its two coats today. I think they will make a great coffee table and plant stand. 

We have been missing a lot of callers at the front door as we are never in the house to hear the bell, Our doorbell is very temperamental at the best of times, so there was no point in trying to extend it down to the greenhouse. So time to invest in a new sign for the door

An while we were at it one to warn people about our dangerous pets

A large bell is now hanging by the side gate and so hopefully when people call in future we will know they are out there.. 

Finally a few more pics of my growing stuff as that is after all the whole point of the garden.

So thats it for the landscaping, all done, so time to really start enjoying myself, Although much to my surprise I have enjoyed the hard work and have learned to use all of Jim's power tools. Those who have known me a while will certainly be surprised at that. 

Jim has a new project, starting on 4th March, he will be very busy with the little chap below

His name is Gibson and he is a Chocolate Labrador, so watch this space for dog, chasing chicken pictures in the near future. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Almost Great Escape!

Another busy few days outdoors, we have been blessed with a few very sunny but cold days so it has been perfect to try and finish all the groundwork. The raised beds have been ongoing for a while now but I can finally say the end is very close. We put a few in last week and needed to fill them with a soil-manure mix but our stocks were frozen.

Once the thaw set in we got to work filling them up and getting them tidy.

The gravel that I spent hours moving one day in January was finally spread around the beds, giving a nice satisfying crunch as I walked around surveying my new domain. Of course the One ton bag which I optimistically thought would do the whole job didn't go far at all so its back on the phone in the morning to the merchant to have another two tons delivered. 

This morning we set about putting in the last four smaller beds in front of the greenhouse. These are for my Asparagus, Rhubarb, Strawberries and Herbs and will be permanently planted. 

We have run out of soil though, so as well as the gravel it we will be ordering a ton of topsoil as well. So thats 3 tons to be moved in my one wheelbarrow. I think its going to take me a while! 

So the final view across the beds

10 raised beds made out of 36 scaffold boards, a tub of screws and a gallon of wood preservative. A satisfying job very nearly done, just the gravel and soil to spread and I can declare the garden landscaping officially finished. 

And now to get on with raising plants. The seeds I planted last week are now starting to sprout, the Broccoli appeared very quickly and is now getting a good size

Today when I looked the tomatoes had put in an appearance

And the strawberries are growing rapidly

I will be planting my Parsnips straight into the bed later in the week. I can't wait. 

Now on to the final part of this entry, and it is the subject matter for the title, of course it can only mean more chicken stories. Firstly, the day after my last entry the postie arrived, still in shorts, (but wearing a woolly hat, scarf and mittens) and delivered the coloured leg rings. This meant we could finally name the birds so here they are in no particular order
and finally 

So they had names and it was time to make them truly free range. Jim constructed a rather clever run which led them straight from the hen house onto the lawn without them having to go through the allotment. I was bit concerned that all my hard work would be ruined later in the year by a trio of hungry chickens. Now they could be directed away from the nice green shoots and no damage done, or so I thought!

The first time we let them out we decided to keep time in a small area just to let them get used to freedom before they had the run of the whole garden. 

The gate was opened and off they went, pretty quickly actually, led by Margot. 

Well that was easy, no problems and with the fence in the way the plants are safe. Off we went inside for a cup of tea and a bit of a sit down feeling rather pleased with ourselves and then, I looked out of the window. The birds, who apparently couldn't fly and certainly (we were assured by the lady at the farm) shouldn't be able to get over the fence, were sitting on top of the chicken house. Oh B@$£%s. Shoes on and down the garden at speed to round up the unruly birds. 

Bid for freedom thwarted, it was out with the scissors and off with the feathers on one wing of each bird so that they are now unbalanced and when they try to fly nothing much happens. I will though be watching out for any suspicious tunnelling activity, we don't want Tom, Dick and Harry in the garden! 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Things are sprouting..

Not much to report this week as the weather has been against us a bit. Unlike most of the UK though, we had about 1 inch of snow, which was gone in about 4 hours. Thats not what stopped us. The ground has been frozen solid for days, and now its a soggy mess. The sun was on it yesterday so we are hopping that today we can get back out and finish the raised beds as I want to start planting outside.

The Chickens are settling in nicely. We have spent a bit of time trying to get them to respond to us and have had some success by training them with a small tub of corn. We can get them to follow us around now by shaking the corn. I think I shall become a chicken whisperer....

The names still haven't been assigned because we can't tell them apart very well, two are identical twins and the third is slightly different but if we go by feather markings and they malt we are in trouble, so after a bit of research Jim located some coloured leg rings, we are just waiting for the postie ( Who is still wearing shorts!) to deliver them. Once we can give them a colour each we will name them. 

Our neighbours had a shed base built on monday and they asked if we would like the topsoil that was dug out. Well of course, and it was very good quality, it did though mean a very long walk over two gravel drives with a heavy wheelbarrow. I started at about 9.30 yesterday and by 2.30pm the job was done. I noticed a couple of rather juicy worms so picked them out and thought I would see if the chicks would fancy there first meat meal. They seem to enjoy it. Have a look at the video 

In case your wondering, I have a camera in my pocket all the time now as you never know whats going to happen here!

And finally to explain the title of this entry.  Last week I planted my first seeds and I have been checking every day to see whats going on. A very exciting moment on monday when I took the lid of the propagator and saw that the Broccoli had made an appearance. 

Ok I know its only 1 seed and you can barely see it but its my first vegetable for the garden....Off outside now lets hope we can get more done today if the weather lets us. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A Mantis in the garden ( The non creepy crawly type)

A Mantis arrived in the post, not the preying variety, but the boys toys variety, with a Honda engine and a tiller blade! Those that know my husband, know that he loves a gadget, so some weeks ago he started researching a way of digging the very hard soil in the raised beds with little effort. It was soon obvious that this particular gadget would do the job perfectly, so an order was duly placed.

It arrived on Monday, as usual in a box, in bits. 

I stayed out of the way during construction but it wasn't long before it looked ready to go

It has lots of attachments but most seem to be rather sharp evil looking blades.. So next morning in the freezing cold it was time to give it a try. I will say that in the pictures, you will see its Jim, not me using the tiller, I know its my garden and I should be doing it myself and I did try, trouble was I couldn't hang on to the thing, it is so powerful It just took me all over the place and was a bit out of control! I am sure I will get the hang of it but for now, tilling is his job. 

So what started as a hard compacted piece of soil

was nicely turned over with weeds removed and large stones picked out in about 10 minutes. 

Next job was to spread a deepish layer of horse manure on the newly tilled soil

And now I need to fill the beds with topsoil, Thats not been done yet as my pile of topsoil is frozen! a few nice days and I can carry on. Hopefully I will be planting stuff in the beds soon.

I have however actually finally planted something, in fact a few things. Yesterday I spent a very happy couple of hours tidying the greenhouse ready for use and then got down to planting things. I sorted the seeds by planting month and found I had a few things that needed to go in

So Peppers, Tomatoes and Broccoli were potted and placed in the heated propagator. 

More to be done today, and then its the wait for the first sprout to appear. Cant wait. I am finally growing vegetables. 

And finally the Chickens. They spent the first 24 hours inside as recommended and so yesterday morning I opened the door into the run and waited for them to emerge, it was either too cold or they were too comfortable but an hour later, there was still no sign of them in the run. I tried to shoo them out but they wouldn't budge, so I resorted to blackmail, A trail of corn was laid from the hut to the run and finally one of the hens started to show some interest. 

I waited as long as I could but eventually had to go out so Jim watched them while he was outside and eventually very briefly they came out!

I am just off now to open the doors again so maybe they will come out for a bit longer today.