No matter what goes on in our lives, the seasons move on regardless and the tasks that need doing in the garden become increasingly pressing if I am not to have an acre of wild garden.
Here's a rough guide to the layout of the plot. It will be interesting to compare this 2014 image from Google earth with the next photo that they take as it will show the progress we've made. I'm not sure how often the overhead images are released, but I'm hoping that the next one will show the kitchen garden once it is fully laid out.
Our house is at the centre top of the plot, the piggeries are hidden among the huge sycamore trees and to the far right is the area I describe as 'behind the piggeries', it's the chicken's favourite place to scratch about when we let them out of their assigned area. At the furthest point to the right is the wasteland area in which eventually I'd like to create a large pond. On the left hand side is what I call the front garden, which is laid to lawn with four small fruit trees that were planted by the previous owners, then there's an area that we've sectioned off for the ducks. They are kept in here overnight in their house, in the early morning and early evening they can waddle about in their sectioned off area, but during the bulk of the day, they also roam around the perennial border, herbs and annuals area and kitchen garden and mature fruit tree areas.
To give a sense of scale, the kitchen garden measures around 35 feet wide and 75 feet long. Many days I feel a bit overwhelmed by the size of the task ahead of us, but then I talk to Mr J about it and we agree to just keep plugging away, a little bit at a time and watch how the changes are taking shape.
As I am creating a kitchen garden in what was formerly a paddock and the soil is not as good a quality as would be ideal, I need to add a lot of compost to the soil to improve its structure. This means making as much compost as I can as quickly as I can. Of course, I don't have last year's garden waste to use, as we weren't here, but I do have lots of wood shavings and hay that I mucked out of the stables. This will take a while to rot down, I created a large pile of it as I mucked out the stable which the chickens have been scratching through and kicking all over the place. It looks a mess, but some parts of the pile are looking partly rotted already.
On the other side of the garden, nearer to the kitchen garden, I have put the compost bin that we were kindly given by someone via Gumtree. On Friday morning, I moved the compost pile that we started about a month ago into the compost bin.
This compost heap is made from grass cuttings mixed with the wood shavings, straw and poultry manure from the hens and ducks houses, finely chopped kitchen waste (tea bags get split open as the paper takes an age to break down), a little shredded paper, a few spades full of garden soil, some wood ash from the wood burner and all the other household recycling that can go into the compost heap. I started making it in a hoop of pig netting wire and have already turned it four or five times to add air into the heap and added water as we've emptied the ducks' water buckets into it.
I took the opportunity to mix and turn the heap one more time as I put it into the green compost cone, which I placed with the opening hatch facing the kitchen garden.
I was surprised that the small heap in the hoop filled the green compost cone to the top, but it should now reach a good temperature in a short time and finish rotting the heap in a few weeks. It will then go on to the kitchen garden beds to improve the soil structure or if the beds are already filled with plants, I will use it as a top dressing.
We can now start to fill the wire netting hoop (seen in the background) once again. I've been setting aside kitchen waste and the wood shavings, straw and poultry manure in bags so that they are ready to mix into the next pile of grass cuttings when Mr J mows the lawn in the front garden. And, now that the sun is up and trying to warm the strong breeze blowing across the garden, it's probably time to put on the welly boots once again and head outside.