About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Slow progress in the garden

I'm suffering from a lack of motivation for gardening at the moment, which is why you haven't heard much about it recently. This is odd, because the weather's beautiful and it's a lovely time of year to be outside.

cherry blossom
Gratuitous picture of cherry blossom, but this is in our garden, and the photo has not been altered in any way

The reason for my garden avoidance may be that the plan is a little vague about the next bit - the beds in the upper garden - so I don't really know what I'm doing, or it may be that planting out seedlings is harder on the back than digging, or it may be that having to dig up all the weeds that have appeared since I dug up all the weeds is a little demoralising. I don't mind the little ones that have grown from seed so much - there's no way I could have avoided those - it's the ones that are growing from buried roots that get me - I tried to dig those up!

Bindweed is coming up everywhere.

Rather than let it all get too much for me, I've been doing a little at a time. Today, for example, I dug out the weeds from the top bed nearest the fence and marked out the boundary between sunflowers and veg. That isn't much, but it's better than nothing. The next step is to work out what veg are going where within that bed, then sow parsnips in their allocated section.

So what have I done? Well, I've planted out two beds of onions (seedlings) and carrots (seeds) in alternating rows. The spacing between them varied somewhat as I went along, and I probably planted them all too close together, as I have only a few onions left to plant and I was expecting rather more left over.

onion seedlings
If you look closely you'll be able to see at least one row of onions in this picture. You won't be able to see the carrots, though, because they're still just seeds.

I continue to sow seeds, some of which are coming up.

red cabbage seedlings
Red cabbages coming up in the greenhouse

Parsley coming up in the herb garden. At least I think it's parsley. When lots of seedlings come up looking the same at about the same time, I tend to assume it's what I planted. Also, some of them had the seeds still attached to their leaves. That's always a good sign, isn't it?

The leeks seem to be coming up as tomatoes. That's what I get for reusing compost.

I keep sowing peas in the greenhouse, twenty or so at a time. This isn't sophisticated successional planting, that's just how many I can be bothered to do in one go.

pea seedlings
Some of the peas are growing well, but fewer than half have germinated. Are the others just being slow, or is that a really poor germination rate?

Seedlings should be pricked out as soon as they're big enough to handle, but the thyme got overcrowded and the compost started going mouldy long before they could reasonably be described as big enough to handle. I somehow managed to extract twelve, but it was very fiddly.

thyme seedlings
Thyme seedlings looking lost in their palatial egg-box home.
The oregano looks much the same.

The tomatoes are mostly doing well, but a few of them are dying for no apparent reason. I'm glad I kept plenty in reserve.

tomato seedling dying
One tomato seedling gives up

Outside, the potatoes are just starting to show leaves above ground. If I can see enough of them, I can tell where the rows are and make sure not to tread on them when I walk across the bed to get at the bindweed that's springing up all over it.

potato plants
Potatoes. They look bigger in the picture than they do in the ground.

Various herbs that might have been dead seem to be alive after all. There was a huge lavender bush at our old house and I took a dozen or so cuttings before we left, then didn't do anything much at all with them all winter. Some of them seem to be alive and doing quite well. I've planted out six, and have another four that might yet be worth planting.

lavender cutting
A lavender cutting, doing quite well.

The rosemary that I brought with me, that was a cutting from a plant that was a cutting from a plant in Edie's garden, down the road from the house before last (are you following this?) was looking quite sorry for itself recently and I was worried that it was dead, but it's looking better now. If it survives, this'll be the second time I've been convinced it was dying after a move, and it's proved me wrong. A sage bush that's travelled a much shorter distance - from the lower garden to the upper - was showing very few signs of life until recently, but now has tiny new leaves.

Rosemary (left) showing fresh green leaves and a small sprig of new leaves on the very dead-looking sage

I'm also having a go at making fertilizer from nettles and comfrey. It's only been in the bucket a couple of days, but it's already looking vile, so I must be doing something right.

Nettle and comfrey fertilizer in the making

On the subject of plant food, I don't think this is what's usually meant by the term green compost:

Compost heap, getting greener by the day.


  1. I think after all the digging out of large bushes and whatever, you will be putting off doing anymore. I can certainly say the same for the allotment I have taken over I seem to have been digging an digging! have you thought of mulching or lasagna garden, it covers the weeds and you can plant without digging. I think I might try it, maybe experiement with one area and see if it is worth doing elsewhere it also really improves the soil

  2. Hi Rosie,

    You could be right - my lack of motivation might just be a hangover from all that digging. I'm very attracted by the idea of 'no dig' gardening, which I've been reading about a bit and I guess is what you're talking about. I'm not quite sure how it works with root vegetables, though. Also, the covering approach takes quite a while to kill the weeds, and I need my soil available for this season's growing. Anyway, I thought I ought to dig the garden over once to get started. I don't plan on ever doing that again!

    Do let me know how you get on with your allotment.



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