For those of you who don’t know me, hello! I’m Sally, I’m a keen gardener though I have more enthusiasm than expertise and this blog is going to follow my journey of creating my garden from scratch. I am fortunate to be working with just under an acre plot of land, the soil is generally poor and the shrubs overgrown but I am nothing if not an optimist and see a wealth of opportunity, cottage garden flowerbeds and abundant vegetable patches ahead.
In my day job I am an intensive care nurse, and through these strange strange times we are living in amid the corona outbreak I find my garden a particular sanctuary, I have never before been so appreciative to have a space I can find solitude in. Gardening has received much praise in the last few years for it’s benefits in association with mental health, its therapeutic properties and its ability to transport us away from our everyday lives and I hope to embrace this as part of my gardening journey.
So, where to begin? Amid my own home self isolation I began my first project of making some usable work space and just as the heart of the home is the kitchen I believe the heart of any good garden starts in the greenhouse. Now I’m very fond of my greenhouse, it’s possibly the cosiest space in my garden but she’s an old gal, I’m not sure exactly but at least 25years plus. She's a bit rough around the edges, a few broken pains of glass, chipped paint, dirty windows and she's accumulated more than a little bit of tut as a result of doubling up as a shed. The old gal needed a pamper.
So stage 1. Cleaning! It’s spring so it only seems fitting to start out with a good spring clean, that is cleaning the moss from the windows, the cobwebs from the roof and emptying the gutter for the water butt. I have to say it started as a neat process but trying to clean the ceiling with a mop and a hose does end in getting more than a little bit wet. However the results were immediately apparent and one of the few jobs that gives instant satisfaction.
As with any project, one task leads to another and the joy of cleaning was short lived, my metal potting bench was terribly rusty and my plant stand had paint chips back to the wood as well as a few broken slats. Repairs were needed as was a repaint.
Stage 2. Benches. The metal potting table was a fairly simple affair, removing the rust with a paint scraper and using some rust proof metal paint (black cracked effect Hammerite) covering the bench gave it an instant lift and protected it from further rust damage. Likewise the plant stand was in need of some TLC. With this being a wooden structure I was unsure wether it would require sanding before repainting, however when preparing the bench so much paint was removed from scraping flakes alone that I was lucky enough to be able to skip that step. Before painting I needed to repair some of the broken slats. I began by removing the old broken ones, unscrewing them from below before measuring and replacing it with pressure treated wood scraps I had from some previous DIYing, this will give longevity to the structure and help protect it from rot. For an added layer of protection and to help with the aesthetic the bench got a new layer of fence paint as well in a very dapper shade of green.
Stage 3. The soil. Not all greenhouses have a bed inside, I have just one that has a few stragglers left, some garlic I have been overwintering and a few left over spring onions from the year before, but generally speaking the soil was pretty sad looking, dusty and lifeless it didn’t instil confidence in growing some bumper crops for the summer. I am on the fence when it comes to dig or no dig gardening I will be experimenting in different areas of my garden over the coming year to see the results for myself, however in this instance with the soil needing so much amendment I dug in a good amount of fresh homemade compost and leaf-mould, finishing with a covering of landscape fabric to suppress any weeds to ready the bed for planting in the coming weeks.
A few finishing touches later, some serious sorting out of tools, pots, fertilisers and weed killers into storage boxes as well as setting up some new plant trays complete with capillary matting for easy watering and voila! She's not perfect but its certainly a start and it has rekindled a true love for my garden, I can’t wait to see what will be grown here in the next few weeks so I best be off to start some more seedlings!