Derbyshire garlic!

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Here is my garlic crop drying in the back yard. I counted 130 bulbs! I wasn’t even sure I could grow it up here, having bought the bulbs on an excursion to the Isle of Wight where I visited the renowned garlic farm. Like a kid in a sweetshop I bought Rose Wight, Picardy Wight, Topinsky and Bohemian, Elephant garlic and a bag full of others, just because I liked the name or the colour. And of course when it came to planting time and each bulb is split into cloves… well you can imagine, I had shed loads of garlic, and it all grew into lovely fat shiny bulbs to be dried and plaited and stored for cooking and roasting, adding to chutneys and bread.

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Apparently I’m doing ‘polyculture’!

Now well into the second growing season on my allotments (two half plots) and I have made much progress this spring in redesigning the spaces to suit my gardening methods. Most significantly I have removed the bed edging boards and started the process of joining up beds and making new pathways to provide a more user friendly environment. Straight lines formed from the boards andimage the need to step in and out of beds is not a very happy way to garden. The plants too are constrained by the boards, I like to plant each bed in a mixed way with flowers and veg and mixed family groupings more pleasing to the eye than following strict rotation rules or mass planting groups.

Before, with boards

The boards have to go!

The boards have to go!

And after:

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Doing nicely, above, a little bed of salad leaves and gorgeous crimson broad beans in flower.

I have always called my methods ‘Sally gardening’ but apparently there is method in my madness and as mentioned in the heading, this is known as polyculture. A blend of vegetables, flowers, herbs and perennials inter planted to make the most of the land area, microclimate and soil conditions. I have willow fedge with peas clambering happily amongst the withies, I plan to install a small pond or two later this summer, plant more perennial veg and generally experiment with what I can grow by creating flexibility and enhancing the planting opportunities as I garden.

Bearing in mind this is a challenging site situated 300m up in the Peak District. I believe this method to have advantages over traditional methods because I am creating microclimates and cover with willow fedges and shrubs and I am gaining maximum area on the ground by reducing paths and straight lines.

Re-plan and re-plant

On the one hand the plot is looking tidy and ordered; nice raised beds, paths mulched and looking good. There’s just one big problem with this and it’s STRAIGHT LINES! I don’t do straight lines and order and neither does nature! I want my plants to roam a bit and seed where the fancy takes them, I want to have wavy edges and sinuous lines, vegetables overlapping with fruit and flowers, room for a pond and somewhere to sit. The boards must go and the paths too. In will go fertility builders like comfrey and clover, space for compost making, herbs like lavender, marjoram and mint, lots of annuals sown around like nigella and marigolds, nasturtiums and poached egg plants, phacelia for the bees and sunflowers too. Willow weaving will begin once Christmas is over…fedge and archway, arbour and seat.

The boards have to go!

The boards have to go!

 

Californian poppy

Californian poppy

all singing together!

all singing together!

Marigolds

Marigolds

Borage

Borage




New Beginnings

 

Well, no posts since 2012 and mainly because we moved! I left my lovely garden in Mapperley, 17 years in the making, but now I’ve found new ground to develop up in the Derbyshire Dales. Two half allotment plots and a little cottage garden will keep me happy for at least another 17 years! So first the allotments…

P1100731At least the soil has been covered to discourage weed growth and although it looked unpromising in early April, I peeled back the layers and found the soil in good heart, a sandy loam that has proved to be a joy compared to the heavy brick clay of Nottingham! I now am able to prepare the mythical ‘fine tilth’ so often described in gardening books and quite impossible to do on lumpy sticky clay! First planting, some Claytonia and wild rocket that had been confined to a container for the winter, happy to be released and ready for picking.

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Claytonia, a lovely winter salad leaf.
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Views from this site are stunning, plenty of time to spend leaning on the spade and admiring the landscape!