A 2015 Garden Review….

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.  I can’t quite believe how quickly 2015 passed by!

The tree and decorations have been put away and I removed the bows and cones from my Christmas wreath and I have put it outside to decorate my table whist it is still alive.

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Mr Thrift is back at work and my daughters are at school again preparing for their A levels and GCSE’s in the coming few months, so the house is quiet again.

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Unfortunately this week Judy has been very poorly with some kind of bug that she picked up.  The vet told me that quite a few dogs in our local area have had it over the last week.

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I spent most of the early hours of Tuesday morning sitting with her, as she kept being sick.  Then during the day I kept getting her to lick a bit of water off my hand to stop her becoming dehydrated.  However, she is now recovering well.

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Today as it’s my first blog post of the year, I thought it would be fun to look back at my new kitchen garden which is now twelve months old.

For those that are new to my blog….unfortunately due to family problems and our very reactive rescue dog (who is a lot better now through training) I had to give up my beautiful four allotments last January.  I decided to embrace the situation and turn my garden at home into a ‘kitchen’ garden.

Below are the before and after photos:

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Unfortunately along the way there were many large roots that I had to remove….

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…and I found an awful lot of rocks which I laid around the edge of the garden to give beneficial insects places to hide:

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Unfortunately we also found that the fence behind all the shrubs, was rotten and we had to replace it (which was an expense we hadn’t expected):

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I brought a few things back from my allotment to plant (before I gave the keys back) i.e a gooseberry bush, three currant bushes, rhubarb, autumn raspberries, strawberries, a bit of comfrey, my blueberries and some jeruselm artichokes.  However I needed to buy some dwarf apple and pear trees which you can see in the photo above that I planted along the new fence as cordons.

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I planted my strawberries next to my greenhouse in the one raised bed I brought back from my allotment, but this was the one area that wasn’t successful over the year and I only harvested a handful of berries.  I can only think the bushes behind it were taking the water from the ground and it was just too dry, even though I was watering regularly:

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 The new kitchen garden filled up very quickly and so I started to plant in whatever space I could find around the rest of the garden:

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I quickly realised that I needed more space, so I brought the wire fence forward and used a bit of our lawn to grow sweetcorn and few a tomatoes in:

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I planted the sweetcorn and tomatoes through weed suppressant so the grass underneath would die back over the summer and this worked well.

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The garden produced an amazing amount over its first year and the photos below show just some of my harvest:

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I also managed to grow flowers here and there to attract beneficial insects to it:

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 So I was very pleased overall and I know when my fruit trees, bushes and rhubarb are properly established I will have more fruit, but I wanted to find a way to grow even more fruit and vegetables in 2016:

In September I decided to bring forward my lawn area so I could have more growing space, but still have a grassed area for our dog. I acheived this by lifting the slabs where we had a second table and chairs which was where the previous owner used to have their rotary washing line……

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…..however I didn’t expect their washing line post to be cemented into two feet of concrete which I found impossible to remove!….I sat for hours chipping the top four inches of concrete off so I could turf over it – I’m praying that this area will not dry out too much in the summer due to the remaining concrete under the top soil that I used to cover it:

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So after digging in lots of compost, I prepared the area and laid some turf:

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I had to leave this area protected from our dog for a few weeks while the grass rooted.

So in November I started the middle area of the kitchen garden:

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I used the old slabs I removed earlier to make a path around the greenhouse and along the boundary for my mini greenhouses (in the area which was really dry because of the bushes).  I also set up my waterbutt to collect the water from my greenhouse:

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I bought some wood and made five new fixed beds and bought in some woodchip to make the paths:

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Now Christmas is over my garden needs a good tidy and the lawn doesn’t look quite as neat after a couple of months of our dog running around on it (especially after all the rain we have had).  I also still need to work on the area next to the lawn too, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

My garden looks remarkably different compared to this time last year and I am now looking forward to a new year of growing my own fruit and vegetables.

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 Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

I hope you have a good week!

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35 thoughts on “A 2015 Garden Review….

  1. Hello and Happy New Year to you all. I am so upset to read about poor Judy but felt relieved when I read on to see that she is recovering well. I can’t bear it when our pets are ill – they don’t understand why they feel awful. I wonder what it was – if other dogs in the neighbourhood have been the same it must be contageous. Thankfully Judy has your loving and understanding patience now. She certainly was nicely tucked up in her bed. Full of love now. It could have been so different. You are truly a lovely person and so full of energy – what a lot you have achieved in the past year. Well done. Your garden looks really pretty and well established, amazingly! Have a good weekend, Patricia xxx

  2. Hiya, I have been reading your blog for a while now, I was inspired and tried your jam recipe many moons ago, which i managed to overcook ! My fault! Anyway I just wanted to say well done on a fabulous 2015 and all the best for 2016. I am pleased to hear your dog has picked up. Ours had the same symptoms and also picked up and seems ok now.
    We get our smallholding next week, finally, so I will be going back through your blog for ideas, help and inspiration. Take care.

    • What a shame about your jam, but it is an easy thing to do….I did this too with the first jam I made but I learnt from it and now as you know I make loads of jam that turns out ok-so pleased don’t be put off.
      How exciting, a small holding…..I can’t wait to read about it on your blog!

  3. Happy new year to you all, what a great job you’ve made of the garden. I tried your recipe for Xmas cake ;loverly not too heavy. Also done the Chelsea buns this afternoon. Very wet so added more flour ended up nearly doubling the recipe.it was the melted marg that caused the problem ,might try again without melting it….

  4. Hi there. Looking back at your achievements and the transformation that your garden has undergone, you should be extremely proud of yourself! Sorry to hear about Judy and glad that she’s made a good recovery.

    I listened to you on your local radio programme talking about a thrifty Christmas – it was nice to hear what your voice sounded like! I didn’t post on last month’s blog post, as I was sitting in the sunshine in Tenerife (30 degrees would you believe!)

    Haven’t done much in our own garden apart from getting a fence repaired – I am sure that there’s a lot of that going on around the country. Luckily my ex husband is a gardener, and we still get on well, so he did it for us for the cost of the materials only.

    I do hope that your daughters cope ok with their various studies and qualifications. My own daughter is thriving at University, but her GCSE’s and A’levels were stressful times. She’s been getting good grades on the essays she’s written, made new friends and already set up a house share with 5 others in Brighton centre ready for the Summer. I’m really proud that she’s become so independent.

    • You should be proud of yourself as you have given her a good grounding which has helped her get to the university stage now….I bet you miss her though.

      Thank you for listening to me on the radio, I love chatting with Tony Wadsworth on his show, as he always makes me laugh and it’s like chatting to an old friend.

  5. Happy New Year! Poor Judy; glad she’s on the mend…. Our Dalmatian Spencer hurt his back and has been very quiet this week but also on the mend….animals are such a worry! You achieved so much last year in your kitchen; I’m so excited to see what you do this year as we are still renting and I get my gardening kicks from your Friday night posts!x

    • So sorry only just saw this! Yes moving soon I hope, our rental is up in May so we need to get a wiggle on. Trouble is there are a lot of ‘overpriced’ properties about…..I’m hoping people may become a little bit more realistic after Christmas X

  6. I’m glad poor Judy is improving – I didn’t realize dogs could catch things the way we do. The photos of your vegetable crop are stunning – you’re such an example! Happy New Year!

    • Hi Lisa….nor did I. I know my previous dog and sister’s dog was sometimes sick but never like this. Judy was very poorly when she went into the RSPCA back in Oct 14 and they had to give her injections to stop her being sick-I wonder if her immune system is still weak from this and that’s why she was so poorly this time?….I suppose I’ll never know.

  7. Your garden is looking brilliant and it has cropped really well for you.
    It is a worry when s pet is ill and I am glad Judy is on the mend. Our little dog has had an emergency operation this week and it was a worrying time. She send to be now on the mend too.

    • Lol it does. I didn’t realise all the bushes took up so much space before and when we cut down the holly and conifer tree a few months ago it made even more space nearer the house (thank goodness as I need it)

  8. Happy new year to you, wow it was amazing to see how your kitchen garden has progressed over the year, I am looking forward to the new growing year and following what you are up too. Have a good week.
    Sue

  9. Happy New Year. Glad poor Judy is on the mend. Your kitchen garden goes from strength to strength and I hope ours does well this year like yours.

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