Kitchen Garden – It’s getting closer!

Can’t believe what a day or two of hard work has achieved.   In Kitchen Garden – It’s getting closer, you’ll be amazed how quickly we chopped off overhanging branches, dug up scrubby bits and pieces of bushes that had been seeded by the many birds and pigeons that frequent our garden and attacked the vicious thorny weeds and remains of old blackberries from many years ago, when our garden had been part of Hornsea allotments.  Mounds of bonfires were piled up since last summer, lit at last (with a friendly warning to our neighbours when we were actually going to strike the first match), then very carefully we spread the ashes out over the land to burn the vicious weeds and put something back into the soil.  Take a look.

Before we attacked the garden.
The end of our garden before we attacked it.

The garden had been left to its own devices for quite a few years.  We loved the privacy, but wanted to clear the land of the ‘rubbish’, let more light in from the sky, then re-plant, with an orchard and bushes and fruit trees that would, again, give us privacy, but would also be useful and beautiful plants, attractive to birds, bees and butterflies.  We wanted to ‘do our bit’.

Opening up the space for the Kitchen Garden
Opening up the space for the Kitchen Garden.

The lighting of the first bonfire was eagerly anticipated.  We had to be careful not to set fire to the trees, or the hedge, but, bit by bit, we lifted off the top of the rubbish, and made a new, low bonfire on the flat ground in the middle of the area, so that we could check we didn’t hurt any little creatures that had hibernated under the enormous piles of debris.  Fizzi, our Airedale, monitored the situation, as you can see.

Friend John stoking the flames.
Friend John stoking the flames.

Once the flames started leaping, friend  John kept an eye on the situation, carefully adding bit by bit, and spreading the still hot ashes over the thick, matted carpet of years of parasitic weeds.  Wood ash is very beneficial to the soil, so it was a sort of ‘double whammy’ –  kill the weeds and improve the soil.

Now we had a clearing.
Where there had been rubbish, now we had a clearing.

It is unbelievable that within a couple of days, we had gone from the top picture on this post to this picture.  Yes, we are open to the neighbours in the flats at the end of the garden – Brenda, in the top flat, always used to open her window and chat to Fizzi.  Our land drops about fifteen foot at the end, and there is a big, solid wall, so, as you will see later, we had already decided what fence to put up, that would please both us and the neighbours.  They wanted more light, because there had been a hedge that had gone wild and grown about 18 foot high, which had stopped the light going in their windows, so we sorted that out and decided we needed a light golden fence that would stop both Fizzi and the grandchildren falling over the fifteen foot drop, and give us a bit of security.

The end result - room to grow!
The end result – room to grow!

You can now see how big our garden is in the picture above.  That tiny house, in the distance, is our house!  Once more open to the elements, the wind will whistle down this open space.  But once I’ve planted it up with fruit and nut trees, plus masses of edible hedging and wild roses and honeysuckle, plus Blackthorn for the Sloes, and Sea Buckthorn (with the orange berries), and mad little curvy stand-alone hedges at various angles, and big,beautiful bushes dotted down the garden, it will be a very private garden, not a wind tunnel, and lucky me can have my pick of whatever plants I fancy to beautify the garden.

Our smart fence
Our smart fence at the bottom of the garden.

This is the smart new fence at the bottom of the garden.  It is set in about 4 foot from the large retaining wall, so as not to damage the wall foundations.  I just  had to top it off with the wooden acorns – it just finishes it off.  We put a locked gate at the end, so that we could do any maintenance on the other side, but I think Fizzi is a bit miffed that she can’t see Brenda in the top window now!

I couldn’t believe that all those bonfires had gone, and the amount of ash had really been spread over a large part of the garden.  The piles of logs will be chopped up and stored in our log store, ready for the cold autumn and winter days when our log-burner will come in handy.  I’ve asked Erik to make me one or two ‘Hobbit’ gates, with twisty rails and very rustic.  Nothing will go to waste.  I will have quite a bit of digging to do, and some weed-killing – we are just trying to work out the best way of doing this.

Now you see this huge space, and wonder what on earth we are going to do with it? Well, wonder no more. I have been busy planning the Kitchen Garden for over a year, using Dobies Vegetable Garden Planner, and if you want to see what I hope the finished result will look like, Click Here to see my plan  (it may change a bit), and all the plants etc. I hope to grow. You’ll be amazed – the Vegetable Planner is so easy to use, and you can move everything around.  I’ve also planned the Orchard, which will be the very end area, that we have just razed to the ground and spread the wood ash over.  But I’ve not quite finished sorting that one out yet.

We do have a very long and private garden, and it just made sense to use the space as a productive Kitchen Garden,  and when we are very happily producing most of our own fruit and vegetables, and no doubt sending food boxes away with anyone who visits, this open piece of land will seem look a distant memory.

Just have to show you two more photos.  Yesterday we had a visit from one of our oldest friends – not old in age, but both Erik and I have know him since the early 1980s, through theatre.  Paul dropped in to visit, and we took him to the Hornsea Mere Cafe, then showed him around the garden. We walked out of the front door to say our ‘Goodbyes’, and found this huge collection of plants -(yes, I’d been at it again) – sitting on a palette on our drive.

The plant parcel
The plant parcel

I have found a new, wonderful plant nursery, in Cornwall, that has a brilliant mail-order website.  It is called Burncoose Nursery, and grows and sells high quality decorative flowers, plants and trees.  My delivery, above, was from them.  They sell plants that you don’t normally find in the local plant centres, and their paper catalogue is incredible, with the choice of plants that I have never seen before.  So, apart from the Kitchen Garden, the rest of the garden will gradually become full of different, interesting flowers, bushes and trees.  What a find!!

And now, the last photo.  I just have to show you my pink Camellia.  This Camellia started life with us in Beverley, in a planter, then move to Hessle and sat outside our kitchen french windows for 17 years.  Then a large branch from next door’s tree snapped off and broke the pot the Camellia had inhabited for a long time.  So off I trotted to Swanland Nurseries and was lucky enough to find a really tough but rustic pot, big enough to rehouse the plant. Then, January 2013, we moved to Hornsea, in the midst of snow, ice and freezing conditions.  The Camellia came with us, but after a freezing spring, looked none too happy.  In fact, I was already practising my ‘Goodbyes’ to it. But I added some more ericaceous compost, sprayed with Sequestreon, and suddenly it picked up.  This year it is in the perfect position – protected from the early morning sun, and sheltered.  It is better than ever.  Oh, I’d better mention the table – the base is a very old table of ours, but Erik has been busy renovating it, and our friend Robin had just the perfect table top to finish it off.  Well oiled, as you can see by the raindrops sitting on the surface. Brilliant for after (or before) dinner drinks when friends come around.

Our ancient pink Camellia
Our ancient pink Camellia

So, I think that’s the end of Kitchen Garden – It’s getting closer!

My next task is to prepare the holes for all the fruit trees, rake smooth the land in front of the new fence down the side of the Kitchen Garden so that my Tomato Boxes, beautifully made by friend Robin, will sit snug and flat, awaiting their grow-bags and the many different varieties of Tomatoes that I am growing this year.  All the Tomatoes, Climbing Courgettes and Cucumbers will be sheltered by this fence and will also benefit from the vast amount of  sunshine in the garden.  Plus the Muscat Grape Vine that will spread along the top of the fence, chosen and to be tended expertly, by Erik.

So step by step, the Kitchen Garden is getting closer.  I’m so excited!!

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