This was laid out in 1986 with a mixture of culinary herbs & mainly cottage garden plants. There are also 3 dwarf apples trees [ Granny Smith, Sunset & Laxton Superb] and a small Bay tree.
It is situated just outside the kitchen door in accordance with Permaculture principles & being thus south of the cottage is in full sun most of the day.
Originally I planted a wisteria, a climbing rose & a clematis against this south facing wall of the cottage and they are so beautiful that I am reluctant to remove them. But in January 2011, I managed to make room for a fan-trained Early Moorpark Apricot because the 2 free-standing apricot trees in Fort Ducks orchard were not fruiting well. It cropped reasonably well which encouraged me to plant two hardier varieties against a south-facing fence in the Allotment orchard but that was unsuccessful.
Adjacent to the flower garden & thus still near the kitchen door is the main vegetable garden, protected from the wind which can whistle up the valley by native hedges and surrounded by post & rail fencing with one fan-trained apple.
I grow a couple of Burpless Tasty cucumber plants up this fence each year and, together with the Sonja cucumbers in the greenhouse, have so far had a glut leading to my freezing them as soup or giving them away.
I grow perennials such as Globe artichokes ; Sorrel ; Babbington leeks ; Daubenton kale Jerusalem artichokes ; Horseradish; and Rhubarb plus annual summer & winter vegetables
In the bee orchard, just beside the wicket gate into the vegetable garden, are the three compost heaps, conveniently situated for receiving stuff barrowed from these gardens.
There is an excellent, sheltered growing area enclosed on two sides by the eastern wall of the Cold-store and the south-facing wall of the stable.
Against this white-painted stable wall, I built a small greenhouse which harbours a very fruitful fan-trained Peregrine Peach & is used to raise seedlings, for forcing early strawberries & potatoes and for the cultivation of tomatoes, cucumbers & melons.
The south & west walls of the cold store are built against the solid earth and one metre beyond its east wall a second wall was constructed & the space between filled with soil for insulation. I now top-dress this area with copious horse manure and it usually grows excellent Spaghetti marrows.
An area above the cold-store roof , treated in the same way, is the courgette patch.
Although I am on heavy clay, half a mile away they are quarrying sand & gravel and kindly gave me some of their spoil to cover the rest of the flat roof of the cold store. This sandy soil has made an ideal bed for carrots, garlic & similar vegetables which prefer a light & well-drained soil – although I am still picking out large stones!
I tried growing asparagus here before discovering that it addition to requiring well-drained soil it demands a lot of root space. It never did well so I moved the crowns to the vegetable patch but they didn’t like the heavy clay there any better.
I shovel horse muck through the door in the adjacent field shelter into two small muck- heaps, built beside the cold-store vegetable beds. It can rot down there ready to be used as needed in this area. The horses like to stand in the shelter whenever the weather is either very wet or very hot & so provide plenty of muck close to where I want to use it.
Beside the Greenhouse a Brown Turkey Fig & a Kiwi Solo are trained against the same south-facing stable wall. I get a reasonable crop of figs around September most years & delicious Kiwi fruits ripen between mid-December & mid-January.
Around the corner of the stables, 4 gooseberry bushes are being trained up the east facing wall & usually fruit well [ a Hinomaki Red, a Martlet & 2 Invicta ].
I have a Phoenix grapevine growing over a pergola here, which is starting to crop really well in good summers.
The two fruit cages are sited inside the Nut Orchard and the chickens eat some of the slugs so that I do not have too much of a problem with the slugs eating the strawberries. The ducks were much better at controlling the slugs but I stopped keeping them when bird-flu regulations meant that they had to be housed in a confined space, which they hated.
One fruit cage mainly contains blackcurrants; red currants and the old strawberry bed. The other currently contains Babbington leeks, Daubenton kale and the new strawberry bed: I was taught to replace strawberries with their runners every 3 years.
Near the front of my cottage is an Allotment which is being cultivated by the friend who helps with fencing, chain-sawing & similar tasks I cannot do. He also has an incubator & hatches out chicks for me to rear in the stables.
Just below this, he has built me a large muck pile. This holds the overflow of horse-muck which is not put directly onto the gardens. Contrary to popular belief, I find there is seldom any need for it to be “well-rotted” first, although I would not use it on the flower beds: I put it on as a mulch in the autumn & dig it in, if necessary, in late winter or early spring after the rain & frosts have broken it down.
I always plant my Pumpkin seedlings directly into the main muck pile in early summer as the rising warmth of the rotting muck & its moisture retaining properties mean that they yield good crops with minimal, if any, attention.
The muck pile is also conveniently sited for friends who want some of the well-rotted product after the pumpkins have been harvested.
Between the muck pile & Underton Lane [ the public road], there are Tayberries & Japanese Wineberries and one big old-fashioned pear tree, a Catillac on Pyrus Communis rootstock. I’ve also planted a line of hazel & similar small native trees to screen me from the Leylandii hedge cultivated by my otherwise delightful neighbours in the bungalow.
I would like to try growing some of the more unusual food plants that I have read about, mainly in Permaculture publications, or heard about on radio programmes like Gardeners Question Time.
And I want to try other alternatives to buying seeds [often F1 hybrids] each year. So far “Trail of Tears” beans & Yacon from the Real Seed Company has been a great success.
I would also like to try producing more of my own fertilisers instead of buying Maxicrop and Blood, Bone & Fish – probably neither are sourced by environmentally friendly methods. I am establishing Comfrey under some of the fruit trees & use horse muck both solid & dissolved in water as a liquid feed.
In December 2014, I purchased a further 5 acres across the lane from my original land. This is now divided into Brook Field, Wildflower Hay Meadow and the Nursey Area
To hide these fences & for the benefit of the wildlife, I’ve planted a screen of shrubs – mostly hazel with some field & dog roses, viburnum lantana & opulis, buckthorn & alder buckthorn and native honeysuckle – one plant per meter, this being cheaper to establish & maintain than a conventional hedge.
In Nursery Area, my friend Heather is now growing organic salad crops using sustainable, peat-free methods and a polytunnel to extend the growing season. The excellent produce can be purchased from several local shops – see links page for details.
Also in this area is my small hay-barn, screened from the road by a copse of 24 silver birch.