i am starting to sound like my grandmother… the years really do fly by when you get older dont they? it was october of last year when i last wrote… this exercise of writing about our work and progress is, if nothing else, a great thing for me to look back on and see how far the garden has come in the last 10 months. we had got as far as putting in all the paths and hugelkultures and we were starting on the wishing circle. we’d planted whip-like indigenous hedging and trees, we’d sown green manure/nitrogen fixers across the bare earth – and the dogs as ever – were a tremendous help (in making more work for us, but more on that later…)
the grass is the main villain in this story, especially as it is quite a large area to work with. its couch grass and really great at creeping horizontally across the land and under the soil to get everywhere. pain in the butt all round but not an insurmountable problem. in time when the trees and other layers establish the mselves the grass growth should get better and easier to manage with every season. i am also trying to keep it at bay alongside the edges of my paths with cardboard and edged with stone that have come out of the field. I’m also ‘lucky’ enough to have had a big pile of horse manure and straw hanging around that i needed to do something with, so i covered the cardboard in that to keep it anchored in place. this may not have been the best idea in retrospect but we live and learn…..patches has been keeping an eye on my work at every level of course..
i had been laying the membrane down underneath the paths, covering them with rough stone, then the plan was to put a pebble stone or something on top. but, i got a tip from someone reading the blog that the membrane is a waste of time and doesn’t really do much to suppress the grass and that they had used mulched willow as a paving idea. they were right and I’m grateful for the tip. as someone who has a whole bunch of willow to harvest every year and i never really had a firm plan as to what to do with it (theres a limit on the amount of living willow structures one needs in the garden..), + my parents gave me the best christmas present ever of a small mulching machine these two things = great path ideas and uses for excess willow. it was a job of work, but a satisfying one. i mulched and raked and mulched and raked and all came good. i now am the proud owner of some lovely home grown and mulched willow paths leading from the three points of the garden to the main hugelkulture and fire pit and then down to the wishing circle. every year i can see me using up most of my willow in the same way as the deeper the path, the less likely the grass is going to be bothered to come back up through it. thats not to say theres no work in maintaining them – there is – but not too much.
the culprits…i of course could not be mad at these bold dogs for long…look at their contrite faces…and mary – the shamed owner – making net coverings…
in summation, we’ve had a really positive year in the garden. we’ve even had some other crops out of it which i sowed directly into the soil in round about places. onions, leeks, potatoes, beans broad and squeaky, cabbage, herbs various, salad leaves, peas, blackberries, rhubarb, wild strawberries which taste like bubblegum and the most delicious ‘regular’ strawberries that any of our family have ever tasted. i had a great looking crop of gooseberries too which i kept leaving to ripen just a bit more and then one day i came out and they had obviously ripened enough for the robbing birds to take the lot! so never got to taste any of my goosgogs. same with any of the currants. next year hopefully the crop will be bigger and there will be plenty for all – otherwise my friend the garden netting might have to be employed again..some of the brasicas took the full force of the caterpillars too, but you can’t win them all can you?
the rest looked, tasted and ate rather well!
maybe my dog sacrifice at the red hawthorn helped??
authors note : no dogs were harmed in the making of this garden…honest 😉