Saturday, 11 April 2015

Back garden overview

I thought it was about time I did a non- Harvest Monday post! So because it's difficult for me to get pics from the allotment, I've decided to just do a quick overview of my garden, which includes a couple of small veggie beds.

It's quite a small garden, with a greenhouse- lean -to attached to the back of the house too. When we first moved in, apart from the lean- to the garden was just grass with the Laburnum tree in the middle.

I can't find the photo from when we moved in though, darn.

So the first winter 2006/7 ( we moved in November) we put in an old solid plastic pond at the back donated from jan's folks (it's behind the bench), I made the two raised veggie beds (nearest the house, where it gets the most sun) and I got some seedling trees and shrubs from a friend's garden, where they'd sown themselves around - A hazel, an elder, a holly and dogwood, which we planted up at the back of the garden (which is actually the southern end but is the most shady because of a building and huge Holme oak in the alley behind.

The holm oak (home to a noisey pair of magpies)

The soil is only a spade deep as there were Victorian terraces here before, which is why I decided to make raised beds for the veggies. The fence sits on a concrete base so I make sure I don't go any higher than that to avoid rotting the bottom of the fence.

Behind the pond there's also two dalek compost bins, screened off a bit with a home made hazel / twiggy thing (Which is very old now, I have to keep weaving in new dogwood prunings every couple of years). It has a honeysuckle and sweet peas that grow up it too)

(Spot the wood pigeon in the raised bed trying to break off a twig from my hazel trimmings - which are protecting the beds from cats)

The stepping stones in the 'lawn' (patchy grass) are off cuts of decking I got from a skip. The raised beds are made from scrap wood from skips etc too and over the years I've collected bricks and small paving slabs to make stepping stones around and in the raised beds.

The shrubs have all done well, and the elder especially has grown rather large. I trim the lower branches but generally leave the rest of it. Because it's at the shady end, the berries ripen quite late so I go foraging around the neighbourhood for earlier berries too. I coppiced the hazel last year as it was getting a bit big for the space and shading the raised bed near it. The trimmings have been good as anti-cat protectors!

Minxie was checking out the pigeon.
This week I've weeded the veggie beds and transplanted some self sown forget-me-knots from the beds to the main garden (under the laburnum and the elder). I've left a feverfew as it's in flower so is good for the early bees. There's some rocket still growing from last year that I had covered in a small plastic tunnel and small chard plants too. I've also spotted some parsley and chard seedlings popping up aswell. I'll take some close-ups and report further another time, especially as it's chucking it down with rain now!

This week I also spread some old compost from last year's tomato pots onto the beds but other than that I won't add any more.

So what will I be growing out here?

Runner beans and climbing french beans up the fences and a wigwam (Climbing beans do badly at my allotment but do well here) chard, rocket, other salad leaves, maybe a squash or two climbing up and along the fence, which worked well last year (but not courgette, they've done badly here the last couple of years, I will just have these on the allotment instead). Maybe some beetroot and peas? The pea plants all got eaten young by slugs and snails last year though.

In the lean to I'll have tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and basil.

You can see my water butt here, attached to the lean to gutter. I also connected an old dustbin a couple of weeks ago as an overflow. I used a bit of pipe I already had and then part of an old bike inner tube as a seal.It's a little bit leaky but works ok. Ideally I would connect up to the main building drain pipe which has so much more water but that belongs to the council and I don't want to mess with it. You can see one of the neighbourhood cats too! It was just passing through.

You can also just see in the pic above, my tomato seedlings on the shelf in the lean to (I made the shelves from scrap wood and a pallet, not very well mind you, it was a long while back and I'd do a better job these days).

And one pic of our small north facing front yard, (in the rain) which gets even less sun because we're a four storey block, hence mainly just some tubs of perennial herbs (Rosemary, mint etc) and a tub of chard that's overwintered quite well. The two bags are horse poo from my recent trip to the countryside that I'll use for me toms in the lean to (it's really well rotted). Against the wall is a buddliea that appeared as a tiny seedling a few years back that I let grow. I pollard it every spring so it doesn't get too big and the straight poles are handy in the back garden.

Ok, that's enough waffling for now!


  1. You've got a lovely garden, I shall look forward to seeing it in summer too. I'm especially envious of your glasshouse, it must be so useful.

    1. thanks CJ, it looks quite neat at the moment because I just cut the grass! I use a pair of shears as there's not much grass and lawn mowers are noisy (and take up space I don't have).
      When we came to look at the house before buying, I saw the lean-to and thought *yes* must have this house! (Especially as it was advertised as a flat and actually has two floors). The guy we bought from just used the lean to for drying clothes (which we do too until the tomatoes get too big)

    2. Oh CJ, I meant to say that I spilt salt everywhere tonight, so it's not just you! I don't normally add salt but decided to put in a little, at which point the top of the container fell off! Luckily I was just trying to put a little in my hand so it went over the work top and floor rather than the meal!

  2. It sounds as if you are an ingenious person - one who makes "something out of nothing". I had a lean-to conservatory once, in my previous house, and it was in there that I first started growing tomatoes. It was supposed to be a "sun-room" but the furniture was soon moved out to make way for plants!

    1. Thanks Mark, I like to re-use materials as much as possible and anything that saves money is good too. My skills are a bit rough n ready though!
      When we come to move (no plans yet) I will definitely be needing a lean to or greenhouse, or sun room! Ours is just an aluminium frame on brick base with greenhouse glass, and also leaks,but it does the job :)

  3. Your yard sounds like mine, cat heaven. I have to always cover the beds too or the cats will dig. Love the glass lean to. I could use one of those.

    1. Thanks Daphne, it's such a shame to have to cover everything up, it looks so good then gets covered. Originally I didn't have the netting round the outside of the beds until it got so bad I had to take drastic measures, except it turned out our cat could jump over it so I have to add extra height too!
      Yep, the lean-to is very handy. It gets really really hot in summer though even with the door and flaps open. I've lost seedlings before that've got frazzled so have to be careful.

  4. Tall trees do make your garden look larger than your neighbours. It must be lovely to sit on the shade on that bench on a lovely sunny day. Do you use the elderflower?

    1. Thanks Sue, yes it's true, when it's really hot our neighbours can't sit outside but we can in the shade :) I actually prefer to sit on the grass though!
      I've tried to make an elderflower drink (a long time ago before we moved here, from foraged flowers) but something went wrong that I can't quite remember now. I think it went funny on top somehow. I don't like really floral tasting drinks that much anyway so haven't tried again!

  5. What a wonderful garden and so thoughtfully laid out! And let me chime in on the glass lean-to... another jealous person here!

  6. Thanks Margaret, we've tried to make it wildlife friendly where possible. I didn't have the allotment when we first moved, so the veggie beds were a high priority. They've turned out to be handy even with the allotment, because difffernt things do better here.
    Yes, I'm so pleased to have the lean-to! I tried tomatoes outside too the first summer we moved and they got blight so I always just grow them inside now.

  7. What a lovely garden and so great to have the lean-to ... I'm very happy to have my greenhouse but would have preferred something attached to the house. Such a nice layout - the bench seems a pretty spot to sit and relax. And how polite of you to let the neighbourhood cats come through. :) I have an outdoor cat who chases everything way (thankfully, in my opinion - one cat messing up the garden is enough).