So in my last blog we began this garden renovation by making the heart of the garden, the greenhouse, a usable space plus a little revamping. Now that I have this wonderful space to bring on seedlings and grow a few choice things, what to do with the inevitable tsunami of seedlings that I will sow very over enthusiastically without quite thinking it through?
I currently have one raised bed outside half filled with onions, not a great amount of space to be working with. The obvious solution? More raised beds of course! Less easy to decide was where exactly to place them. I could make some surrounding the greenhouse? But this might encroach on the lawn somewhat and grass growing between would be a pain to strim. I could lay paths using woodchip or similar but this would need containing in some way, my chickens have a habit of spreading any thing ground level as far as the eye could see, handy in some situations but not here. So raised beds on the current lawn was a no go at this point. Plus I didn't have any wood lying around to make some, currently amid the corona virus lockdown its been hard to get hold of many supplies as rightly so they are non-essential.
So then where did I decide? Well I was inspired by my parent’s trip to the Nepalese mountains a year ago. On their return from Nepal I was met with photos of contoured 6ft deep terraced beds backed by tall walls lining the mountain sides. A banking just at the back of the house that was a failed wildflower meadow where unfortunately the most prolific plants were nettles and brambles, was the perfect site.
Enlisting some muscle power we began digging. Lots of digging. It took about 2 days to simply clear the area of weeds, a fallen down rotting tree and most importantly moving the washing line.
Working from the bottom we flattened and laid out the first bed taking the width far enough to accommodate a path for the next level. Using stone that lucky was the previous flooring of a conservatory ripped up some time ago and kept for a rainy day we laid a length of wall, true Yorkshire style, dry stone no cement - because there was none to hand, but like a big jigsaw puzzle it eventually came into being and rose from the ground.
To ensure the small wall was a level height, two sticks with string between acted as sufficient guide. The wall was backfilled with smaller rocks and earth before being compacted by simply using foot power, a lot of walking back and forth, hopping, jumping and sweating later it was starting to come alive. Now a professional at this point may be inclined to advise some hard core to level the paving properly and prevent any movement of the path as the ground inevitably settles over time, however, I am no professional and with limited supplies we made do and went about laying our stone slabs atop the earthen path. These slabs can in time be easily taken up and the hardcore added retrospectively when the materials become available if needed.
Two layers in this Nepalese lasagne was starting to take shape! We repeated the process to make ourselves a grand total of 3 beds and two paths. Having scavenged the materials from the garden and what we already had we lacked the resources to extend the terracing across the whole banking, a project to be continued at a later date, but all in all a great success!
The plan for this area is to amend the soil with some homemade compost and leaf mould and lay with landscape fabric until ready to plant to suppress any weeds. The lower two levels will be an extension of my vegetable patch and the upper layer, previously a mismatch of hedging will become an area for fruit bushes, awaiting planting are a blackberry, raspberry, loganberry and three gooseberry bushes. I can’t wait to be able to step out my back door and pick some fresh fruit as a wander to inspect the rest of the garden!