How does your garden grow? {Easter Holidays, week 2}

Thursday 20 April 2017

Three posts in three days? I suppose that's what happens when you're housebound with chickenpox! Fraser is doing fine, and hasn't complained about his spots much at all, other than about 24 hours at the weekend when he felt under the weather. 

At the end of our back garden used to be a little strip of very tall pine trees. 

When we first moved here, nearly 15 years ago, the trees were tall, but not too tall, and I liked the cosiness that they gave to the back garden. Our garden is south facing so although it still got the sun for most of the day, I soon noticed that the far end of the garden did spend a lot of time in the shade, and things just didn't grow very well down there.

The trees did look particularly pretty in a snowfall.

We had a gate in the fence at the bottom of the garden so the boys could go out and play in the 'woods'. It was perfectly safe as the land is fenced off at the end of the furthest house in our row, and on the opposite side of the trees is another very high fence which borders on the railway track. So nobody else had access to the land other than our row of houses.

Around 18 months ago or so, one of our neighbours in our row of houses enquired who had responsibility for the upkeep of these trees as they had become quite dangerously tall, and would sway terribly in high winds. If one of the trees were to fall one way it would crash onto one of our houses, or if it were to fall the other way it would fall across the railway line.

She found out that the responsibility lay with everyone in our row of houses, and so asked if it was then OK for us all to cut down the trees. Which it was.

So, just before Christmas 2015 most of the surrounding houses got tree surgeons in to get those trees chopped down safely. We got together with our neighbours on either side to get the tree surgeon to do our three sections at once and so got a better deal on the price.

Even in the dark and greyness of December days, the difference to the amount of light that was now in the back garden, and in the kitchen at the back of the house, was amazing.

Our two neighbours soon took down their back fences and began reusing the empty land. They also put up a fence between their houses and the houses on the opposite side of them, all the way down to the fence at the railway line. There is no fence between the three of our houses in the new land at the moment. It means that everyone can easily walk between the three sections to help each other out. Especially when someone is having a bonfire! It also makes the end section feel nice and open.

We didn't get around to doing anything with our new section of garden last spring/summer, but I had big plans for it!

So last week, while my husband Andy had the week off work, I decided to put him to good use and to try and get a start on turning my plans into reality!

My plans are for lots of raised beds to grow vegetables in, and then for the rest of the space to be for the boys to play around in. We left four of the pine trees up, those behind the shed, although we had the tops cut right down to a manageable height and all the branches cut off, as Andy and the boys think they will be a perfect platform for a treehouse.

This was the garden at the start of last week. The grass is always so patchy after the winter, when it gets so wet, and the fence on the left there was a new one put up last summer to replace the rickety old one that had been there. But we didn't get around to painting it last summer. So much that we didn't get around to doing last summer!

This here is my one patch of prettiness in the garden. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that I can't have a garden full of blooms, given how many footballs, shinty balls and rugby balls that fly around the garden. After all, we bought a house with a big garden for the kids to play in. I don't want to stop them from doing that! 

With the exception of my hydrangea in the far corner, which is from Dobbies, I filled the whole bed with plants/bulbs from either the pound shop or Aldi's last summer and it looked amazing. I'm planning on doing the same this year.

Now onto the harder work.

We ordered some cheap timber from a local supplier and I did a little bit of maths to work out how many raised beds we could make out of it with the least amount of waste.

The boys were eager to get to work with the saw!

The boxes began to take shape, and we painted them before they were positioned where I wanted them.

The boys also began to take it in turns painting the fence, although I have to say that David (11) was the most diligent worker at this.

James (17) took a break from his studying to come and help with the heavy digging. 

The ground was so uneven and hard, and full of old tree roots, that it was quite hard work to turn it and to get the boxes in position nice and level.

At the end of about our 3rd day of working we had a beautiful rainbow over our work.

In preparation for filling the boxes, I've been growing seedlings in my little greenhouse. And on the kitchen windowsill too.

So far I have planted courgettes, peas, tomatoes, sunflowers, sweet peas, aubergines and peppers. I'm really not convinced that the aubergines or peppers will come to anything, but it's worth a shot anyway.

This week I'm also hoping to plant some more seeds, including pumpkin, carrots, french beans and sweetcorn. Again, I'm not sure if I can grow the pumpkin and corn but I'll give it a bash. The pumpkin seeds I have say they have been adapted for a 'northern climate' so I am ever hopeful!

And of course I'm planning to plant a whole pile of tatties too.

I haven't put any of my veggies out yet though, as there was frost forecast for a couple of nights this week. I think I should be safe enough at the end of this week though.

By Monday the boxes were all just about dug in. There are three deep ones and two shallower ones. That should be enough to get started with anyway!

See that little path there too? That was my work, using some broken slabs from the side of the house :-)

And on Monday evening, to round off the holidays, and to get rid of the millions of tree roots we had dug up, we had a little bonfire.

We had kept some tree stumps for little seats. 

Perfect for sitting around a bonfire and whittling away.

As you can see here...

...and this one shows the work in progress as it is now.

Now, fingers crossed for a good summer!