Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Kitchen Gardening and Mingling Springs

At last! The propagators are fired up and churning out seedlings on a daily basis; the cold frames, reassembled and reglazed after Storm Doris took them for a spin around the orchard, are stuffed to the gunnels; and the soil is warming up and looking as welcoming as it can, given its history. 
Living on a former farm in rural Norfolk means that I have land on which to grow food, but the soil is riddled with flint, chalk and hulking lumps of clay muddled with detritus from centuries of building and farming. Last winter, the notion of a flowerbed was redefined when I unearthed a bundle of bedsprings. Every time I pulled at a spring, it either stretched and refused to budge from the soil, or it attached itself to a fellow spring. Knitted together they were lethal and I found myself under attack from all sides as springs already exposed and languishing on the soil rose up and propelled themselves towards me. They made untangling a hosepipe look like child's play and the never-ending spaghetti of bindweed roots seem benign. I will never complain about weeding again (at least not this year). Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to bury a bed? 
The Good Old Days... a barrowload of stones circa 2011.
I thought this was bad at the time (little did I know)
It is a few weeks since my last run-in with mingling springs. The pile of masonry dug from the soil continues to grow, but progress is being made and every so often I am treated to the delights of sowing into something akin to friable.
Hyacinth enjoying some better soil
- that really is her happy face
My favourite gardening task for a rainy day is the allocation of crops to their place in the kitchen garden. I stick to a basic rotation plan, but I like to mix things up in each bed because the kitchen garden is the one place where I feel free to experiment with different plant combinations every year. Of course, I could do that elsewhere in the garden, but an annual shift of perennial ornamentals is beyond me and I suspect that the plants would vote against the whole shenanigans by turning up their roots.
Aubrieta is definitely not rotating anywhere
In a sense, there is a secondary rotation happening on my veggie plot because it is circular. Although there may be an argument for maximising light to individual beds, I arrange them in this way because I like the idea of sitting in the middle, surrounded by food. That said, the crop circles have been there for over half a decade and I have never sat down in the kitchen garden.
The area is bordered by fruit and nut hedging with views through the food to various focal points. One focal point is an oak, another is the pear tree under which I plan to put a seat on which I will probably never sit, but I do like to have a selection of benches to not sit on. Is this complicated arrangement of crops necessary? Of course not! It just amuses me to grow them in this way. Gardening should be fun. Crop circles make me smile.

30 comments:

  1. Had to laugh at your description of digging up the bedsprings!

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    1. It was ridiculous! I am so pleased that no one was filming it!

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  2. Love your crop plan. I hardly ever sit in the garden either, there's always something to be done. Poor you having to dig up a bed. I have a lot of rock about 6" under my soil. It's fairly crumbly (as rock goes!) so if I hit it long enough and hard enough with a pickaxe or a long iron spike I can lever bits of it out. It makes tree planting an absolute nightmare though. CJ xx

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    1. My sympathies - it takes so much of the pleasure out of planting. You have to be very determined with ground like that.

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  3. Your plan is much more artist than mine! I'm purely practical and stick to rotation so much so that it would bore some! (I like your root trainers - I use loads of them every year - they're great!)

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    1. They are great. I have tried many different containers for sowing over the years, but I always return to root trainers.

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  4. I also have a wide selection of seating in my garden and, in fact, have been considering the addition of more in areas without such seating. I think I have the idea that - someday - the garden will be sufficiently "done" to allow myself time to rest. Ha!

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  5. Hi Sarah, Oh, chickens! I love them and I love the name you gave yours....Hyacinth, how sweet! The description of your soil was almost painful....what a challenge. I sympathize with the whole buried bedspring. Back in the day, it wasn't uncommon for people to dump stuff on their property and leave it.....there are a multitude of half buried things in the wooded lot we own........tires, bikes, tin cans etc. and I know there's a clawfoot bathtub buried in our backyard. Lord knows, I hope I never need to dig that up! I'm very interested to see the magic you perform in the garden this season! Happy Gardening!

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    1. A buried bath? That has to trump a bed! What were they thinking?

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  6. A circular bed arrangement is a novel idea I like it.

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    1. A number of balloonists and gliders fly over the garden. I like to think that it's fun to look down on from up there!

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  7. I like the design, thank for sharing the idea

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  8. I like your veg garden plan. It reminds me of a garden A certain Mr Gavin designed, where you went down to sit in a fire pit surrounded by a circle of raised beds of fruit trees and vegetables. It prompted me to edge our patio with raised beds ....no fire pit though!

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    1. Up until this week, the grass was so dry here that I would be fearful of the fire spreading. I will have a look for Mr G's design.

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  9. I like the circular design for your kitchen garden. Good idea to include ornamentals!

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  10. Your crop circle is fabulous. I bet it makes it even easier to rotate the crops. I have several circle flower beds in my garden. I don't sit much there either. Only one circle bed has an actual seat in it. I do sit there from time to time. One I have a seat at the edge of the circle. I sit there from time to time too. Hmmmm maybe I sit more than I think about. Perhaps I should say I don't sit for long there. ha.. Maybe we should ask the weeds about that.

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    1. That is a clever idea! If you have enough seats, you can move from one to the other and no one will complain that you have spent all day lounging in the garden. I like your style. Keep talking to those weeds, Lisa!

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  11. A bed? You should have just left it there then you'd never have a reason to leave the garden. In summer anyway. I dug up all the ironwork from a door yesterday. Latch, hinges etc. Rusty of course. I did wonder what happened to the wood. Did it rot or do I just need to dig a bit deeper?

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    1. I only hope that the door wasn't attached to a house!

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  12. I think most gardeners share your "sitting in the garden" fantasy...with the same results. Any place with a bit of land seems to tempt residents to dump all sorts of things over banks or bury them: quite the opposite of buried treasure. We did turn up some old bottles that are kinda charming.

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    1. Old bottles are lovely. I was at June Blake's garden last year and she had been busy unearthing a load of old drinking vessels. I would like to unearth something pretty at some point instead of rubbish and stones!

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  13. I can't sit still in my garden either! MrPB will happily fall asleep for hours on the swingseat, but before my bum's hit the seat I spot something that needs my attention :)

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    1. A swing seat sounds very relaxing. Perhaps we should all sit with our eyes closed.

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  14. What an interesting crop circle, Sarah. You're so organized. I should think about too.
    Nice hen!

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    1. I'm not sure about being organised, although this year feels more under control than last year and I am certain that I have the weather to thank for it.

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  15. Hello Sarah, that's a beautiful veg plan and looks like very large. I like sitting being surrounded by food as well, but I tend to do it in the ice-cream and frozen chips section of the supermarket. I don't envy you your bedsprings, that's worse than the heavy clay we have, even when trying to pull a fork out of it is a but like pulling the sword from the stone.

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    1. It is a large area - I often think that I have bitten off more than I should have, but rather than decrease the amount of land I grow on, I find myself extending it. I think it's because as a family we are eating more fruit and veg.
      Heavy clay is hard work, but at least it means you have earned the chips and ice cream!

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