With the onset of the autumn season, it is time to start clearing the garden up from the summer activities and putting the structures in place for planting and growing for the cold seasons and into spring, in the new year. Over the last year, I have not done much in the way of gardening, due to my health making that difficult, but I am now doing a little gardening a few times per week.
Our garden has been a bit of a mess, this year, which has been disappointing. The intensely hot summer pretty much almost wiped our grass out. You may have experienced what we did, in that many of our shrubs and plants came close to perishing in the high temperatures? It is incredible that most did actually manage to survive. We had almost three months without any significant rainfall, at one point. Temperatures rose to almost 40 degrees celcius!
Today, the weather was perfect for gardening; overcast, yet light. Cool but not cold. I have made a start on a small area of the garden. We had a vegetable patch in the last year or two but, due to my health issues, I had left it for a while and it grew over. The only remaining plant, from the patch, is a rhubarb. This year, the rhubarb grew beautifully well. As you will see from the following photo, the poor rhubarb has now started to go over into seasonal decline and it has joined the rest of the garden in looking rather neglected.
I decided that I definitely intend to grow vegetables in the new year and so the priority was to re-establish the vegetable patch. It is only a small patch but you may be surprised at just how much can be grown in a small piece of land. The key is to keep the patch productive throughout the year. You will be able to follow my progress in growing vegetables over the coming months and year ahead, so do keep an eye on this blog for further updates.
Due to the symptoms of my illness, I have to take regular breaks. Quite lengthy breaks at times. So, this means that any progress is rather slow. A simple task can take me a great deal longer to achieve than it would take an able bodied person. That said, I am stubborn and I like to see things through to completion; no matter how long it takes or how much pain or difficulty it causes me during and after. Today, therefore, saw me in the garden for a short while and then in the sitting room laid out on one of the sofas, in pain and desperate for a snooze! Then, up again and back into the garden for more work. This went on a number of times.
I started by cutting the declining rhubarb back to the current, healthy new growth. I removed much of the plant’s remaining summer growth and then set about weeding around it.
I cut the shape of the vegetable patch and set about clearing the site of everything other than the rhubarb. The soil is still looking rich and healthy. My nemesis is stinging nettles. They are everywhere! My arms are rather sore this evening from the amount of times the nettles managed to sting me! With a slow and steady pace, which included the numerous rest breaks and a nap, I managed to finally clear the vegetable patch. I was so pleased to finally reach that point.
I soon need to invest in either some old oak sleepers or some new treated oak and create a raised bed wall around the veggie patch but, for now, I was able to use some old chicken wire. The main purpose is simply to keep our two dogs off of the patch, rather than being about keeping rabbits off. Until we get the new oak timbers for turning it into a raised bed, there is no need to be worrying about which creatures can and cannot get in; at least not until I plant something. As long as our dogs cannot get in, then that is good.
Here, although while I was doing this work my dogs kept chasing each other across the patch, you can see how I cleared the veggie patch and used the chicken wire to create an anti-dog barrier:
All that remains now is to decide what to plant. We are currently thinking French beans, garlic, onions, bell peppers and courgettes. It is likely that I will need to create another small, separate patch for the rhubarb, for it grows very broad leaves that will likely cover the entire patch.
These are the first steps. I may yet make the patch a little bigger, but this was a good enough start, for now. I’m looking forward to growing our own vegetables again. I love that they will be completely organic and I find the whole process of growing our own food incredibly fulfilling. Additionally, gardening is just so emotionally therapeutic, in spite of the physical difficulty and symptoms that doing this causes me. Even then, it does also help with physical fitness and well-being, to be active in the garden.
Here are the obligatory ‘before and after’ shots: