Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The initial garden

Most of the main vegetable garden, 30 May 2016
I have been gardening in this space for 13 years now.  The property is approximately 10m x 15m at the back (very rough estimate), south facing, in a closely built village in the middle of the countryside in England.  As this property is quite a bit bigger than our surrounding neighbors, we share a border with three other gardens at the back, as well as one on each side.  There are two mature trees at the very back of our garden (the southern side), which shade about half the growing space for most of the day.  The front garden is very tiny (3m x 3m-ish) and north facing, and only receives a bit of afternoon and evening sun, due to the closely built houses surrounding us.

Over the course of the last five or so years, I have planted 9 (dwarf) fruit trees, 1 almond tree, 5 kinds of soft fruit, and many perennial herbs and vegetables such as rosemary and rhubarb.  I have been growing annual vegetables and flowers each year.  There are many shrubs and herbaceous perennial flowers dotted, planted by myself and by previous owners, and there is a lawn over about 1/3 of the garden out back and 1/2 of the front.

We get a LOT of rain over the year.  Though on occasion we go for a few weeks without it, generally it rains at least a few times a week--sometimes every day.  My garden almost never needs watering, other than pots and planters.  There is also a lot of cloud cover, so although there are many hours of daylight during the growing season, it can be several days at a time before we actually see the sun.

It is also quite mild and the last frost date can be mid-March or earlier, though this year it was early April.  First frost it also around the end of November, although it can be later than this:  up to January.  However, even though the temperatures are mild, at such a northern latitude, there is not much daylight in the winter and if not dormant, plants grow very slowly then.  We are in USDA plant hardiness zone 8, as a general guide.  My garden is quite sheltered in places and I have a microclimate right next to my house which is more like zone 9.

So that's the basic outline, let's get out and growing!

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