Sunday, 26 June 2011

It's the end of week 1 of the Frugaldom Microholding Challenge

One Week On and What has Changed?

The weather has been quite good this past week, despite some cloud and mist, so the garden has received plenty of attention.

Blue sky has greeted us most mornings, but there have been some very interesting wispy cloud formations passed overhead. We're reliably informed that the swirls foretell the arrival of rain. On this particular day, after what seemed like another mini heatwave, the shower of rain arrived around 7pm and watered all the plants for me.

The bulk of the work has been digging, raking and weeding along with clearing more growing space. 2011, being our first year here, has got off to a late start for us, after having had to transplant so much at such a late stage in Spring, but things are catching up slowly.

Across the other side of the burn (stream), H has cleared most of the weeds and brambles to produce an extra space that might be suitable for another hen run. It stretches to about 8m x 4m at the longest and widest parts, but that's taking it a bit close to the edge of the water for planting or building anything.

Extending the hen run or building a second run, perhaps for the little Pekins, is feasible and would still leave enough space for planting a few willows and making some sort of feature by the edge of the burn.

I haven't researched what could possibly be grown here but, at some time in the future, we'd like to improve on the bridge that crosses it.

The Pheasant Berry, or Himalayan Honeysuckle, is growing on both sides of the water, so it obviously likes the type of soil and drainage it has there. I'm assuming that since this shrub produces edible berries, it will not be poisonous to the hens.

On the opposite side, H has been digging away relentlessly at rubble mountain, in an attempt to clear out all the rocks, rubble and rubbish.

Once cleared, there will be enough space for the summerhouse/art studio and adjacent patio or seating area, as it covers an area measuring approximately 6m x 6m.

This area is behind what we call wild bird corner and overlooks the mini-orchard, but it has a view of the main garden all the way up to the house. On the other side, it looks down onto the stream.

It will take many weeks of digging and clearing before the ground is anywhere near ready for preparing to build a summerhouse, but this is one of our longterm projects that has been given a top priority rating. It would be great to see it completed this summer.

In the upper third of the garden, we have finished transplanting all the berry bushes. The surplus raspberries have been planted along the edge of the orchard.

Yesterday, I dug out a new bed for the hardwood cuttings I had taken last year, so they all look happy enough in their metre wide bed. It's about 8m long, so plenty of space for these to grow and spread. Trouble is, I didn't mark the tubs they were planted into, so I'm not sure if these are the blackcurrant or redcurrants. All I know is that they are all the same variety.

Today, I edged the bed with rocks to seperate it from the other fruit bushes and then topped it up with some of the soil dug from the soon-to-be duck pond.

The duck pond is another one of those priority non-priorities. We all want it completed before any ducklings hatch (due 9th July) but the rocks in the ground have proven to be really stubborn.

As with rubble mountain, the excavation that is our duck pond has been attacked by a big mallet, in an attempt to smash through the rocks that would, otherwise, have ended up as an island in the middle. It's very slow progress, slower still, as son has taken charge of this particular project and is fitting it in between work and weight training. Lifting the rocks should be good exercise for him!

I have a proper pond liner for here but we'll be using an old carpet as the liner. It won't be a huge pond but it will, hopefully, be big enough to keep the ducks happy and well enough made that filling, cleaning and emptying won't be a problem.

It will be so much better than the kiddy paddling pool that the ducks have been using for the past 18 months.

In the meantime, Joey and Phoebe watch and wait. It's almost as if they KNOW what is going to be there one day!

After setting out all the different growing and rearing areas in the garden, I decided to start measuring up for next year's raisied beds. In the upper third of the garden, which will be where all the vegetables will be grown, I have now marked out a space measuring 10m x 4m. This will be where we'll build proper raised beds, probably in two lots of four, so that the crops can be rotated each year.

 At the moment, we have makeshift veg beds made from all manner of things, ranging from fish crates to old drawers and kitchen cabinets. It's a general mish mash of make do planting, in an effort to get some homegrown produce in year one. So far, I have picked several lots of blackcurrants and strawberries and there's a courgette almost ready for picking. The first of the peas now have pods and the lettuce continues to grow as quickly as we eat it.
I have to admit that I can hardly wait for the fruit trees to grow, as it has always been an ambition of mine to own an orchard.

Our little orchard is slowly taking shape and, although it will still only be a micro-orchard, it does have 20 trees growing in it already, a mixture of plums, pears, cherries, apples and a solitary nectarine that was planted by my grand daughter when she was 2 years old. She'll be 7 soon and the nectarine 'tree' is only two feet tall. This is the first time it has been planted into the ground after spending the last 5 years in a pot, alongside the tiny apple tree that she planted at the same time.

I'm amazed that there are apples on a couple of the transplanted trees after all the digging and moving they had to endure in order to survive the move. One of the cherry trees is covered in fruit but I'll need to wait and see if it all ripens fully.

The far corner of the garden, where the bird feeding station is set up, is going to be wired off from the ducks and turned into a proper cottage garden with flowers!

Now that I've seen how well the foxgloves are doing, I have plans for all sorts of cottage garden type flowers to provide us with a blast of colour in summer and plenty of choice for the bees and other insects. This is also where I'll get round to planting my artichokes, but those will need to be started again, as they were left behind and have probably been mulched into the ground by now.

I have seen a garden that I really like, created by a friend within the space of a year. Said friend has offered all sorts of advice on seed collection and what to plant where, so her help will be called upon when it comes time to plant.

It's lovely to see a bit of colour in the garden, even if the bulk of it is overhanging from neighbouring gardens. I'll need to learn the names of all the plants and flowers so I know one from the other.

Plenty of choice for foraging this summer, what with the elders, haws, rosehips and brambles... and all of this in our own back garden. What more could a true frugaler want?

Frugal Living - it's a great life in Frugaldom!


  1. Wow! Amazing progress.

    Love all the photos, esp of the ducks waiting for their pond.

    Would love to hear more about the cottage garden as that is what we are trying to achieve here.

    Sft x

  2. that picture of the ducks patiently waiting is sooo good! I so wish I could just drop by for a cup of tea ...easily!

  3. Love the currant bed - neat idea for the large stones/rocks. Great progress!

  4. Fantastic progress, you're doing SO well.

    I must say I do like the idea of a proper cottage garden as well as all your veggies, it will bring lots of beneficial insects to your land and more importantly lots of lovely pollenating bees.

    Sue xx

  5. The cottage garden is something that I've tried several times but each time I've planted anything, we've had to move house before it grew. I have visions of hollyhocks, lupins, foxgloves, delphiniums, poppies, red hot pokers and all sorts ablaze with colour at the bottom of the garden - BIG, striking flowers that we'll can see them from the house. As long as the ducks can't get at them, they should be safe enough and I'll sow some globe artichokes down there, just for good measure.

    Sue, we have bees everywhere here, so many different types. I must try to photograph them to find out what they all are.

  6. try contacting the bumblebee conservation trust [] They're really helpful AND based in Scotland too :-)

    Your garden's looking lovely. Quite inspiring, it's even got me thinking what I can do with a small paddock...

  7. Moira, a small paddock must surely be for a small pony? LOL Or perhaps it could become an orchard with a pond and some ducks? Or what about a small willow plantation for rotational coppicing - think longterm, all that nice firewood. Or what about a market garden business with a couple of polytunnels, or you could join the landshare site and see if anyone in your area is looking for some gardening space. OK, I'll stop now, not got a small paddock here, but I'd like one. :)

  8. What great progress photos :) I'd also love an orchard one day and to be able to grown some fruit and veg :) can't believe how much you've done in a relatively short space of time!


Many thanks for taking the time to comment. All comments are moderated to help prevent system abuse by spammers, time-wasters and chancers, so your comment will not appear until it has been manually accepted for publishing. This will be done as soon as possible - I check for updates regularly. We are on GMT - London times.