Veg Patch

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Tales from a Stream Bank

When we made the move to Hampshire over 4 years ago, one of the many things that attracted us to this home was a very small stream that runs along the entire length of our boundary and through our front garden. Around here the name for a little bit of water like this is a "Bunny" and I have no idea why. This tiny little bunny joins another which then runs across the local golf club into the sea. It is populated by little fish and is regularly visited by a host of birds and other wildlife. 

The bank had been rather unsympathetically landscaped, by which I mean a load of rocky soil had been dumped and held in place by railway sleepers. The soil and been left uncultivated and loads of very tussocky grass had taken hold

My neighbour and I decided we wanted to cheer it up a bit and so we are now in our 4th season of attempting to make it pretty. I think we are beginning to win.

After consulting loads of people it seemed that one answer to getting rid of the grass was yellow rattle. This plant attacks the grass and leaves spaces for other plants to take hold. The seeds were purchased and sprinkled liberally , now it was just a waiting game. 

Over the past 3 summers the number of pretty little yellow plants has increased each spring and a gentle breeze once the flowers have died, leads to the rattle of the seeds in the pods as they are sprinkled for another year. I only ever bought 1 packet and it is really doing a good job. 

So this week I have been out wading in the water clearing away a few weeds and making sure there is plenty of space for the rattle to reappear soon. All the other plants that have finally seeded are beginning to re-grow. This is how it looks at the moment, Quite a difference I think you will agree.  I have 5 tins of seedball wildflowers ready to be sown in the spring , I can't wait.

And that leads me on to seeds. Its the time of year when gardeners start planning and buying the seasons plants and seeds. I am now the owner of a huge seed collection and taking a lead from Sarah who I met on twitter and then in real life in France a couple of years ago, I keep them in a rather lovely wine box. Yes we did drink the wine .. 

Having tipped them all out and piled them up, it seems I am only short some Brussel Sprout seeds and I will have all I need for the coming summer. I can almost hear the collective Yuk as I mention Sprouts, but homegrown ones are wonderful. 

Of course my addiction, means that I will probably end up buying loads of others as well, just to add to the box. Luckily we are off to France again soon and I will make sure we get at least one more box. 

So thats all for now, as its been so mild the daffodils in the lane have already started to flower which is very cheery.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Pennington Patch

Some of you are probably aware that I am a reasonably regular user of twitter. Mostly I use it to find and interact with gardeners and people who share my love of flowers. last summer in Barton I noticed that an area known as The Meadow had suddenly sprouted huge swathes of wildflowers. This couldn't have happened without a bit of help so I decided to find out who had done it . After a bit of research I was put in touch with a lady called Gill who, along with a load of local volunteers, spent most of 2015 sowing and maintaining wildflower meadows in Lymington and beyond. It wasn't long before I found myself helping as well. 

Late last year Gill told me about a huge abandoned allotment she had acquired from New Forest District Council. Her plan is to turn half of it into an orchard and use the other half to grow flowers for cutting and , teach anyone who wants to learn, all about the joy of a jam jar posy. "Would I help" she asked. You don't have to guess my answer. 

You may have noticed I said it was an abandoned allotment.. It hasn't been used for 5 years and is now a tufty grass and bramble filled patch. There was no way we would be easily able to dig it all, so on a particularly wet day in Mid December I met her and a few of her volunteers to peg down some huge sheets of black plastic to try and suppress the weeds. It was certainly extreme gardening I was wet all the way to skin level!! 

You may be able to see at the far end of the plot is an area of scrub, bushes and bramble about 15 feet deep. It needed to come down to see what was under it and stop it invading into the growing area any further. 

So last Friday I asked Jim if he would mind coming along to help with his rather impressive collection of Stihl chainsaws and tree cutters. We loaded up the car, sat Gibson in the back and off we went. It was a gloriously sunny but very cold day, I had a bit of trouble taking pictures as I could only take them into the sun but hopefully you will be able to see what we did. The area that needed clearing appeared to have two very large bushes in the middle and were completely surrounded with brambles and weeds. Jim quickly started to make an  impression, with Gill and her husband and Gibson and I on clearance duties.

We only had two hours but in that time managed to cut back all the brambles and rescue a very pretty flowering bush that had been swamped. 

There was also the remains of a bench, which with a bit of TLC may be brought back into service. 

There is a huge amount of work to do before we even start planting things but hopefully with enough time, people and sunny days, you will see the Pennington Patch take shape over the summer. 

Gibson enjoyed his trip and is looking forward to the next visit when we plan to start rotavating the beds, A quick inspection revealed a very heavy clay based soil so keep your fingers crossed we can get it all turned over.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

2016 already - Another attempt at blogging

This time last year I posted an new entry for 2015 fully intending to keep up to date, and suddenly its 2016 and I failed miserably. I had a lot of other commitments last year which meant blogging fell off the "To Do List" but happily this year, I have handed on several desk bound jobs to others so maybe if I am lucky, I will feel inclined to write again. The final push to get back to blogging came last night when for reasons only known to him, Ben at started posting links on twitter to my old blog posts, much to my amazement, lots of people read them. So I suppose if people are interested, I will give it another go. 

The veg patch is 4 years old and technically it is only half a veg patch now, the other half has become a glorious year round (well almost) flower cutting patch. I love flowers and have learned, over the last couple of years at the apron strings of Georgie at Common Farm , how to go about growing to cover almost the entire year.

So what did I do last year, well all the usual stuff but also a plant sale to raise funds for Oakhaven Hospice . The big job of the summer was to try and grow as many flowers as I could for my silver wedding party. 

It began well, with hundreds of seeds germinating, but sadly the very cold spring of 2015 slowed everything down and I didn't get as many as I wanted. The most successful were Sunflowers and Zinnias. These would normally flower in late summer, but by leaving them in posts in the greenhouse I was able to force them to flower early.

They looked lovely but I didn't have enough for the tables. I managed to get a few vases full but that was all.

Luckily being friends with a flower farmer has its perks These beauties arrived from Common Farm a day or so before the event. 

I then arranged them into these little jam jar posies for all the tables.

They looked lovely and were all taken home by guests at the end of a very successful evening. 

Elsewhere at the growing end of the garden, a few things have been replaced. When I built the raised beds I used 2nd hand scaffold boards, some of which were already pretty old. Now a few have suffered being exposed to water, compost and bugs and one in particular was sporting a huge hole. 

When the beds were first built I was determined to have as much space as possible. The beds were therefore pretty big. I soon discovered that it had been a mistake to make them so big. A large area in the middle is unreachable without walking all over my carefully tended soil. I decided to split my huge bed into two smaller, more manageable one's. A quick search online and I found my favourite supplier of nice garden stuff had just what I needed and so without much fuss two new 6ft by 4ft raised beds were delivered by Harrod Horticultural  They were really easy to build and a day later one became two.

And finally for this post the greenhouse was in need of some new glass at the end of the summer. Jim was strimming in the gate area of the patch and managed to kick up a couple of bits of gravel. You can guess what happened next . 

Its amazing how may thousands of pieces a pane of glass can break into. it was impossible to pick them all up so we dug out the gravel and replaced it. 

No blog entry is complete without our lovely boy Gibson. Today is his fourth birthday so here he is relaxing after breakfast. 

I promise I will write more regularly.