Nettie (Plant Team – Sudbury) has begun a ‘Get Growing’ project by completely redesigning her garden which includes a huge vegetable area. She has kindly agreed to share her story with us. It’s been a labour of love and a battle against weeds over the last 14 years, and the layout didn’t become obvious until lockdown when the chicken run and vegetable cage went up. With such a big area to grow food Nettie has become more or less self-sufficient which is amazing!
Here is Nettie’s growing journey so far:
“Dave (my husband) and I have lived here 14 years and I’m midway through totally redesigning it. I’m planning to arrange our garden into distinct areas or “rooms”.
Behind the patio, the new greenhouse is about to go up, I will use it for tomatoes and peppers this summer and for overwintering more tender things later. I’ve bought an archway to lead from there into the vegetable/chicken area. Rose “Bridge Of Sighs” from Perrywood will go over it.
We have a 5m x5m vegetable cage plus another 20 sq. metres of beds. We are pretty much self-sufficient with our vegetables about 10 months of the year. We have two VegTrugs, one for growing salads and one for herbs. The lettuces and parsley self-seed all over the paving below! The chickens – rescue hens Mabel, Ethel, Babs, Doris, and Mrs. Slocombe, have a covered run 4m x 3m and an outdoor area the same size. Their contribution to the veg patch is more valuable than the eggs and they are more than happy to help with the weeding and clearing the ground!
We already have a nice Mediterranean-style dining area behind the house. It was invaluable last summer and we have decided to turn the conservatory into a garden room with bifold doors so we can walk straight out there. The area is planted with climbers in pots being trained up the pergola, hanging baskets, and a succession of bedding plants in pots.
I am gradually planting a cottage-style garden but the weeds are always winning, I’m tempted to rip it all out and start aga. But we do get lucky with ox-eye daisies, and they look beautiful in June. On the other side of the path is a row of horrible low growing conifers that sting my legs every time I walk past. We want to take them out but can’t get a digger in, so the plan is to cut them to the ground and grow some alpines in there.
We have a mix of ancient and very new fruit trees including Bramley, Victoria plum, quince, pears, bullace, medlar, and assorted apples. My family all give homemade Christmas presents, so the fruit is very useful for jams and jellies! Below the trees, I’ve planted primroses, bulbs, and cyclamen but as the year progresses we let the wildflowers grow up and just mow a path through.
We have an 80m long back border that is mostly overshadowed by our neighbours’ 30ft high Leylandii. It gets the sun till about 11 am, after that, we are talking dry shade, and lots of it, particularly at the chickens’ end. I’m on a mission to make it look nicer, it’s been horrible for years. We’ve just put in railway sleepers and I’m starting to plant with Vincas, Bergenia, and hardy Geraniums among others.
The other half of the border is in the wild garden/orchard and gets a bit more sun, and another arch will go there to mark the end of the veg patch. I’m attempting a bit of permaculture that end – we have perpetual spinach, globe artichokes, and swiss chard in there, along with sorrel and calendula and sunflowers for the chickens. I’m planning on growing chicory, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, and Russian tarragon. I might even transfer my soft fruit there.”
An update will follow, also lookout for more projects from other members of our team!