vegetable gardening

Another week travelling around the UK, but it is time for an update from my lovely corner of Eden.

My new vegetable garden is bordered on 3 sides by a beech hedge, newly trimmed as you can see, and on the 4th side by a large wooden storage shed and the 6 x 8 foot  greenhouse. There are  8 timber edged beds, only one of which has a crop at the moment-caterpillar chewed cabbages, but I noticed a few broad beans emerging in another bed.

The previous owners have clearly loved this space and the soil is good, enriched with manure from the horses next door. The corner posts will be useful to fix anti-pigeon netting and it may help as deterrent against the rabbits that also live next door. That leaves the pheasants and mice, slugs, snails, aphids and butterflies to bewilder, and we will be away.

There are a couple of soft fruit bushes in the bed behind where I stood to take this picture. One is a gooseberry, the thornless, pink-fruited “Captivator” and a currant, probably a red currant. I brought a blackcurrant with me from Wiltshire, Ebony, and have yet to decide where to plant it. The bed where the soft fruit is already planted is a little shady because of the hedges, but I don’t want to use the more open beds you can see in the photograph  for a crop as permanent as fruit bushes, or for the gifted raspberry canes I need to plant too. More pondering is required here.

I have made a start on greenhouse sowings. Last weekend, on that glorious Saturday we all seemed to enjoy, I sowed two winter lettuce varieties, Chartwell and Winter Gem and some microgreens. I was thrilled to find  the latter had germinated when we came back from Cambridge yesterday. I hope to find some autumn broadbean seeds when we go out on a shopping expedition tomorrow to add to the self seeded ones. In time I will order over the internet, but things are not yet that organised here.

Have a splendid weekend everyone. We have a 10 mile walk planned for Sunday and I am hoping it will be a lovely day for it.

bean enclosures

On a visit to North Devon at the weekend we looked around the gardens of Clovelly Court. They are a good example of a walled Victorian kitchen garden, the walls providing the necessary shelter from winds off the sea and salt spray and creating a great micro-climate. There are superb glasshouses with the original fittings where they grow peaches, apricots etc  and extensive bed areas growing all manner of vegetables and cutting flowers.

I was particularly interested in how they were growing their runner beans. The usual rows of canes had been sunk into the soil in a two parallel lines. Resting against each line of canes was a simple frame made of timber, with polythene tacked to it, and this was held in place with another cane pushed into the ground and tied to the framework. The plastic covered frames made a giant cold frame, as a sheet of perspex had been rested against the end of the row. The 3rd and 4th pictures above illustrate it.

I thought this was a really neat idea, offering weather and pest protection to the beans whilst they are little. I wanted to ask more details but unfortunately there was no-one to ask.

Clovelly is famous for its donkeys. They used to be used  to transport goods up and down the steeply cobbled streets , which are unsuitable for motor vehicles. They are not used for carrying goods now, but donkeys are still kept for children to ride on. Donkey “by products” are used extensively in the kitchen garden on the flower and vegetable beds. A neat symmetry.