Have I mentioned this? – I know I’ve said it to Dave – I’ve suggested to the Sage that the chickens might like to spend the winter in the kitchen garden. I think they’d love it. Of course, the bits that aren’t walled will have to have netting put up, and I’ve got some vegetables that’ll have to be protected, but they can sleep in the biggest greenhouse and we can go and chat to them and feed them little treats. Chris the snail will have to make sure he stays well up on the wall though, or he might meet an untimely end.
There will be some tidying up done in there by the spring – the good thing is, of course, that if we do some digging it’ll make the bantams very happy as they will have lovely insects and worms to eat. Some years ago, we (rather too quickly) dug new beds for fruit, put in bushes and paths and a fruit cage. After a couple of years, it became apparent that we hadn’t cleared the area well enough, we hadn’t allowed enough room for the bushes to grow and it was getting too much for us. For the last couple of years we’ve almost abandoned it. Now, we think the only thing to do is to prune the currants severely and move them, giving more room to the raspberries and gooseberries. While we’re about it, we’ve having the asparagus bed dug up.
It’s not that I want to stop growing asparagus, of course. But the plants have been in over 20 years and they are on their way out. I did put in some more crowns about five years ago but it was a dry season and although I watered them, they have never come to much. I’m going to have to decide whether to move them and give them another chance or dig them up too and start again completely. In any case, they aren’t enough. Again, some perennial weeds have become established in the bed and I think the only thing to do is clear the bed and carpet it for a season to clear it, then manure it heavily, plant potatoes for a season and so get it thoroughly fertilised and dug.
For the rest of the garden, I’ve still got to keep it easy. Next summer we’ll still be bricklaying and I’ll probably be contemplating an operation (unless things don’t go well, in which case I’ll be recovering from one) – either way, I don’t want a lot of gardening. So it’ll be squashes, tomatoes, beans, that sort of thing again – stuff that will cover the ground, be easy to pick and quite undemanding. I will grow lots of plants from seed because I enjoy that, but mostly for Al to sell.
What I can do, though, is think about planting the bed next to the wall…the section of the wall that will have been completed, that is. Not the side that the bricks are stacked, which will be a flower bed, but the narrower bed the other side. It will face East, mind you, but be sheltered from the North and get light from both East and South. The final piece of wall will face South. The bed is only about 3 foot 6 inches wide and, of course, it will have the problem of dryness that you’d expect, but it will be quite warm and sheltered there. Some cordon or espalier fruit trees might be possible – we’ve got room elsewhere for good-sized apple trees (most of our apple trees are elderly and we’ve got plans to plant more) – I’m tempted by the thought of peaches and apricots but maybe pears would be safer on that side – any ideas? Also, I want to put in some flowers, particularly ones that will attract bees. This will be a secluded spot once the wall is finished and I think I might hide myself away there quite often.