My original intentions were to just have it like a 'proper' garden as we live in a first-floor flat with a shared courtyard. I've always had a few pots and containers there which I would fill with flowers all year round and I thought it would be a great way to keep the colour and interest going by sowing seeds on the allotment and when they were on the point of flowering, bringing them down to the courtyard...a bit like just buying plants in trays from garden centres etc. Bulbs like tulips and daffodils could be lifted after flowering was over and potted up in pots at the allotment to die down naturally and reused next spring. It all seemed like a good plan at first. However...once we got the keys to Plot 34 and saw the greenhouse and 30ft polytunnel which the previous tenant had left behind Neil said I should grow some tomatoes. Not having a clue where to start at first as I'd only ever grown flowers I invested in a copy of Grow Your Own magazine from WH Smiths. Wow! It was like a completely new world to me!!! I sowed a few seeds and it just grew from there....as the summer progressed and my plants gave me delicious fresh food I became more and more obsessed with growing edibles.
For the first three years or so I had so much fun on the plot and it became a whole miniature ecosystem in it's own right as I grew lots of pollinator-attracting flowers and was fully organic. But then a new boss at work proved to be a horrendous bully and, to cut a long story short, after two years of him I ended up suffering a return of the dreaded Black Dog of depression and life just became a struggle. In 2018 and 2019 the plot I had loved so much was left to do it's own thing and soon became completely overgrown. The worse it got the more overwhelmed and embarrassed I became so the less I visited...it was a really vicious circle! I even contemplated giving it up a couple of times as I felt I simply couldn't do it all on my own!
But something kept me going and believing that 'this year' would be the one in which I took back control. This year ~ 2020 ~ Neil and I have come up with a new plan. Firstly I have ASKED him for help instead of 'shutting him out' of my garden and secondly we have sat down and taken a good hard look at Plot 34 and what needs to be done.
1: The shed is over 35 years old and completely rotten and for the past two years the roof, which almost blew off in June 2018 with Storm Hector, has been cobbled together with spare bits of wood and each spring it's been a battle to stop wasps building nests in there! I've never been happy with where it was placed either so we've decided to clear it out and store stuff at home and in the greenhouse and then just pull the shed down and burn it.
2: Ditto with the polytunnel raised beds which, being around 20 years old and made of wood, are also rotten and beginning to keel over! These are approximately 3ft high, 3ft across and 30ft long so that's a lot of soil to be removed!!! These need to be weeded out first and then I can get the soil out which, as it's decent stuff, can be spread out onto the bottom section of the plot...or piled up and used for raised bed later on.
3: Everything needs to come out...Every.Single.Plant!!! Some I shall put into pots and they can go into a corner out of the way or in our courtyard at home over the summer. Others I shall give away to others to put in their grdens. Weeds can then be fully removed and the soil dug over to remove every scrap of nettle, bramble and ground elder....everything ALL OUT!!!
Eventually we shall be left with a bare canvas with just the greenhouse left standing and from this we can then rebuild it by rabbit-proofing the fencing, put in new paths, raised beds, a new shed and polytunnel and a big run and coop for some chickens. In short...my dream kitchen garden! It'll take the best part of the rest of 2020 but if this is what it takes then so be it! I've struggled to keep control for the past two years and it seemed like the weeds always had the upper hand and I was fighting a losing battle against them....spending time trying to sort them out instead of tending flowers and vegetables and forever feeling like there just weren't enough hours in the day to catch up! The dream is to have it as a no-dig garden full of flowers, fruit and vegetables and a few chickens free-ranging around (when I'm there to supervise!) - a place to enjoy and relax instead of it being a constant war zone with no sign of victory in sight! It's going to take a lot of work but it'll be worth it in the end.
The disaster zone that was Summer 2019!
As you can see from these photos.....it can only get better!