In The Garden: February 2015

I’ve been taking advantage of the winter months to finally get to work on some construction projects I wanted to get done in the garden.  I find it so depressing at this time of year, the wheel has turned and spring is on its way but the plants are still in their sleepy winter mode.  I can’t wait for the place to be green and blossoming again and so my thoughts turn to the coming growing season.  My big project this winter has been to construct a big raised bed for veggie growing!

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I wanted a raised bed for a lot of reasons, and it’s a huge one for another bunch of reasons!  First and foremost, I want to grow my own veggies this year.  I tried my best last year but the little space and sub par growing conditions I had available meant that it was basically a complete wash out.  Now, you may think it would be easier to just grow veggies in containers or the ground… let’s just refer to Exhibit A in that picture above, oh yes, the small, fluffy vandal!  I have given up trying to stop him from eating the herbs, mostly because he smells FANTASTIC when he finishes! But veggies are a different matter, I don’t want them trampling by little furry feet.

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The ground I had to spare wasn’t really going to be suitable for growing anything at all without an awful lot of work, there was gravel mixed in with the soil, some random blobs of concrete, all sorts of rubbish!  By putting the growing soil on top of this mess after a bit of a tidy up it means I am in control of the condition of the soil from the get go.  The grass I had dug up to make the flower border last year had turned nicely into loam and could be moved across to fill in part of the bed.  To further improve the soil condition I’ve installed a worm tower (plastic pipe with holes in) which will be perfect to dispose of the small amounts of vegetable waste I produce and inject some goodness straight back into the soil!  Raised beds also make it a lot easier to get at and maintain your plants, this makes all you rmaintenance much easier and if it’s easier you will be more likely to stick with it and make it work, I know myself!  I’m just that bit lazy!

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That’s not to say that this hasn’t involved a lot of work.  I am not a natural DIYer.  I have had to learn and guess as I go (and phone my dad for advice a lot too!)  Wickes is open nice and late, I’ve been hanging out there a lot recently!  I was lucky enough to get most of the wood for this project free from skips in my area.  The only timber I purchased was for the long front side as I needed nice, uniform planks.  Those 5 planks were ~£15 from Wickes and look great!  I used the existing fence posts as anchor points for long batons, making sure not to attach anything to the fence panels as these may need replacing in the future, the posts are in for the long haul though!  Only 2 sides are solid wood, the others have a baton top and bottom and the plastic lining is stapled around the inside to form the walls, which are supported, but not dependent upon, the fence panels.

I assembled the long front side separately (making certain I had all of the measurements correct, and left room for joining it all together!) and then moved it into position and secured it to the fence post.  Then the short solid side went in with each plank slotting in and being screwed into the fence post and the corner post on the long side.  I hope this will be a nice, secure, stable arrangement.  I definitely tried not to cut corners and do things properly as I want this bed to last a long time!

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In order for this to happen I also had to work on replacing some missing fence panels and securing the back of my garden, we have a narrow access to allow people further down the row access to their gardens and I had taken down the old, rotten fence panels months ago with a view to replacing them with new ones… the budget wouldn’t really allow for that right now so I ended up bringing back the old fence panels (which, thankfully, I had stashed elsewhere!) and cutting off the tops and bottoms and replacing the arris rails to make new, half height fence panels.  This means that I am now confident that my garden is doubly secure for Darcy.  I have gates across my section of the access but my neighbours can be a bit rubbish about shutting both gates.

In case anyone else is wondering, yes, it is possible to saw down and re-position a 6′ fence panel on your own with little to no previous DIY experience.  Would I recommend it? No.  Is it possible?  Absolutely!  Did I nearly die/fall off step ladders/ saw my own hand off / swear more than is appropriate for any young lady?… May be?

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So, now I have the back part of my garden almost as I would like it.  I want to move the shed round but the manpower for that is tricky to organise so that’s on hold until BBQ weather comes along and I can bribe helpers! Until then there’s plenty to keep me busy!  Once the weather warms up I need to finish painting the fences and I want to plant some clematis on the rear fence to bring a bit more greenery into the view.  The pots down the side of the garden need a bit of a tidy up too, it never ends but I’d be awfully bored without a project to go at!

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