Wartime Garden: It's Not All Down Hill

The weather has become a barrage of rain fronts on our exposed hillside. Yet, the exposed hillside is slowly becoming cosseted behind a wall of hornbeam hedges and dry stone walls. The hedges for the first time are higher than Andrew's belly. This is either down to a wet spring that promoted fresh green shoots in the boundary hedges or Andrew is starting to shrink. Thankfully, St Jude skipped over us but our sympathies go to Blackmoor Nurseries who have born the brunt of the winds and The Walled Nursery, who also had their own damages on a smaller scale. More than ever, independent nurseries need our support, so next year consider purchasing British and independent. Pig Row wouldn't be half the garden it is without the support of such independents, their advice has been invaluable. Yet, it's not all down hill for independent nurseries or the garden out back. It's not time to put your feet up, not if you want some of that Wartime Spirit and keep the home front burning (but only behind the blackout curtains).

Get out in the garden this autumn, don't give in!


The saga of the shed continues, Carol's shed is now secured to it's plinth (made out of the entire Berlin wall) but now Andrew's shed is starting to show the strain. A terrible purchase that was hefted up the hill through a neighbour's garden, flung over the fence and then constructed in an atmosphere of four letter words, barely legible instructions and roof felt that a moth could rip after partaking of a curry. The roof is now bowed and more felt is in the kitchen, donated by family members, and when the weather clears Andrew will borrow next door's ladder, patch up the roof once more, bitumen it and then bang his head on the door lintel for seventh time in one day. Shed's really should come with door measurements for real men, men who stand upright. Andrew has been on the plot though getting in the last of the spring cabbages, sprouts and broccoli. The holy trinity of gas, apologies and blaming it on the dog. We don't have a dog but Little D came in useful until he learnt to speak, he now regularly points out anyone who farts, he doesn't have to know them because he can detect personal wind up to a mile away before he points at them roaring with laughter and yelling to everyone that they have 'fupped'.

Wind abounds in the vegetable plot.

Elsewhere, in the wind free parts of the garden, those summer crops grown to dry are now beginning to turn brown and crisp up like the hornbeam. The runner beans grown for both fresh and dried are now giving up their last crops.

Runner beans are good dried as well as fresh.

The parsnips planted in blocks back in spring are now swelling in the rain, free from the potatoes that surrounded them and sown into holes with a mix of compost and sand, we have high hopes for them for the Christmas table. We know, the C word, we know that you are yelling at your screens but part of this garden was growing ahead, thinking ahead for those moments in the year that we need food. We have had our failures, no swede, no savoys and no spinach but other crops have sustained us now for months. As we write this, we're pickling our tiny shallot and onion harvest, every rain cloud has a silver lining.

Parsnip block, the real battle in the cold war.

There have been harvests of the other kind, the make do and mend kind, or in this case, make do, mend what you can and recycle the rotten off cuts and split pieces into fire wood. The sack below which is taller than Andrew and the hedges is full of wood from the local community, we have been out like Tom Good with our barrows collecting fallen tree branches, smashed garden furniture, broken frames, pallets and abandoned wood. Surprisingly when you start to look around you find many verges, hedges and back lanes dumping places for pallets and off cuts. We filled this sack with a day's foraging. Though it helps us, it is sad that so many people do not recycle wood but fly tip it instead.

Wood is often dumped rather than recycled, go out and forage for it.

The hedges may be turning brown, winter may be coming but there is no down hill at Pig Row. There's wood to turn into staging, fruit to propagate and bottles to open and eat from.

You can view more on our #wartimegarden plans on twitter and through the following links:

Wartime Garden: Harvest Festival

Digging for Victory: The Guardian Blog