New year, new garden

our new garden

As my father says, in life there are years when little out of the ordinary happens, happy peaceful years that will however not stand out in memory, and years when everything seems to happen at once. 2015 was an intense year, one of the most intense of my life. On top of the things I usually do, like teaching, writing articles, photography and gardening, I wrote a book. Which is kind of like saying I had a baby without taking a maternity leave.

my book Tuin smakelijk

My book came out at the end of November and I am so proud of my beautiful baby.

But by the end of the year I was also very tired and in desperate need of a break, from writing, photography, blogging, even from gardening. I did my best to fill the well again, which for me means a lot of yoga, reading and running. Like last year, we spent the Christmas holiday with my family in the Czech Republic and it was all very low key and peaceful.

Now that the days are thankfully getting longer, I feel like I’m resurfacing again. Which is a good thing because the other potentially life-changing thing that happened last year was buying a garden. Fulfilling a long-time dream, we are now owners of a 960 square meter (1/4 acre) plot. And it’s about time to make plans!

new garden
The plot is very close to our old allotment (like 200 m) and it measures roughly 21 x 46 m (69 x 150 feet). About two thirds of it were planted with annual vegetables last year and this part is still mostly weed-free. The soil however seems quite low in organic matter and the previous tenant is rumoured to have used inorganic fertilizers – yikes. A situation not unlike 3 years back when we took over our current allotment. The last third has a few trees on it (1 pear, 2 plums and a very large hazel) plus a lot of perennial weeds. The soil is bound to be in a better shape here, but a lot of work will be needed, too.
In December, Remco with a couple of friends started working on the fence. It will consist of chestnut poles and wire mesh and hopefully will be rabbit-proof, to which end the mesh needs to be buried at least 30 cm deep.
raised beds

The plan so far is to use about 1/3 of the plot for annual vegetables and cut flowers and to plant an edible forest on the rest of the land. Last Sunday we moved the first two raised beds from our old plot to the new one. We filled them with compost ( 5 wheel-barrows per bed).

I also replanted 3 pears that I grafted last year (‘Herzogin Elsa’, ‘Red Williams’,’ Coference’). They have grown very little in 2015, but are not dead either and I hope that given more space, some lime and a thick layer of half- composted wood chips, finished with the remains of our Christmas tree, they might make more progress this year.

pear tree
We are planning to ‘colonize’ the plot slowly but here are some of the things I dream about:
– A pond, mainly for wild life, but with some edible aquatic plants too
– A mixed hedge with native fruit bearing bushes
– A small lawn for picnics
– A long bed with asparagus so that we have all the asparagus we can eat (which is a lot)
– Lots of cut flowers, both perennial and annual
– Walk-in fruit cage for growing berries and cherries
I am also compiling a plant wish list which I would like to share in another post.

Improving the soil and growing an edible forest are things that do not happen overnight. But because this is our land, we can finally think long term. And it is so much fun to be starting this new adventure! Who knows, maybe one day I might write a book about it…

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