Ah, now then….
this is the one major (& literally sometimes) proverbial ‘thorn in the flesh’ for the Ffarm. Currently divided into lawn & pond, five veg beds, a greenhouse, hothouse, soft fruits, & duck accommodation, we are planning radical changes over Winter 2007. The first of these changes will be to add some more veg beds & take away all the surrounding grass in the patch, replacing it with the ten tonnes of plum-coloured slate chippings Tony bought for an exorbitant sum, last November (gawd knows why; it’s not as if we don’t have any slate of our own, here in Wales…!). The second will be to erect a polytunnel so that our veg crop is less at the mercy of the elements; will extend the growing season; & hopefully, as we intend to control the environment within, make it less of a target for the garden pests from which our crops have suffered so catastrophically over the ’07 growing season.
2006 was actually not bad, with plenty of potatoes, peas, chard, leeks & tomatoes; although I did not manage to even get into the greenhouse until April, as the previous owner had not cleared out her equipment & I would’ve felt awkward doing it behind her back, although I was itching to get started. But as I was still commuting to Gloucester each day at that point, my time in the potting shed was severely limited as I had to divide what few moments I had between gardening & managing the livestock.
I’ve been a bit more adventurous for 2007, growing several varieties each of potatoes, peas, peppers, beans, beetroot, broccolli, cauliflower, cabbages, cucumbers, chillies, leeks, lettuces, sweetcorn, squashes, tomatoes….
In memory of Melissa, I’ve established a herb garden in an old bath, as hers was such a source of pleasure for her. In addition, there are clumps of herbs everywhere such as rosemary, curry plant & several varieties of lavender. The fields also supply plenty of natural herbage for salads – common sorrel, wood sorrel, jack-by-the-hedge & ramsons being particularly delicious in season. Borage & nasturtiums are always running in colourful riot across the whole garden. Whilst the nasturtiums are so deliciously peppery in salads & the borage flowers add a pretty touch to ice cubes clinking invitingly in a glass of long, lazy Pimms on the summer lawn, I do find it frustrating that they always seem to do over-well with absolutely no attention whatsoever whilst the veggies, in spite of my best efforts, fall prey to mice, slugs, & snails with monotonous regularity. Indeed, thus far 2007 has been a bit of a disaster: with the potatoes & tomatoes afflicted by blight; the raspberries lost to mildew; the cabbages, cauliflower, broccolli, lettuces, & squash patch all ravaged by slugs; the figs & strawberries stolen by ants; & the sweetcorn & peas all eaten by mice. But at least we had a bumper crop of blackcurrants & gooseberries – not that I’ve managed to get around to doing anything constructive with them as yet….
The south-west facing lawned area, just above the veg patch, screens off the more functional areas of the garden with some lovely colourful borders, planted by the previous owner. She also painstakingly dug out the generous garden pond, which hosts a wide variety of wildlife, including a large number of newts & a profusion of ponderous toads. The massive Gunnera is much loved by the cats, who enjoy the shade of its leaves on warm summer days; & mature shrubs & trees make it a very pleasant place to sit & relax, when the rare opportunity presents itself.
Even the five-berth caravan above the orchard, has a small garden area; although it is purely lawned with a little table & chairs set beneath the massive bulk of twin, silver-barked beech trees & presenting a magnificent, shaded vista of the majesty of the Prescelli Mountains; one of my favourite places to sit & muse with a glass of something cool & refreshing.