Tackling the Field

We refer to this area as the field, the reason lies behind the fact that when we first cleared this area, we planted it all up and back then it went way beyond the greenhouse you can see in the background (you can see a photo below). Over the years we have broken our long quarter acre down, and the field was nibbled away at both ends with a cottage and fruit garden, and orchard. Then a shed tumbled into view and an area to work when it is raining (still to be built), and we constructed some dry stone walls to partition off these areas and planted some hedges to protect against the wind and the field dwindled. Then we got a polytunnel and the field got eaten a little more and then the polytunnel blew away and we got a new chicken run. So, after eight years and a lot of chewing of the land we have in all a space akin to an allotment. There are two more beds to the north tucked between greenhouse and run, between greenhouse and hedge (though we have a plan to put another greenhouse there too). We have scattered our initial burst of growing food in one large space over the entire garden, fruit pops up in formal and informal areas, we love a good fruit bush or tree. Today though, it's time to give this space an identity and as our backs are not getting any younger to build some raised beds but we will come to that later. First we need to move the compost heaps and the tyres, and the old strawberry beds in tyres. We have too many tyres. Time to tackle the field.



Moving the compost bins sounds easy until you realise how much chickens have become part of our composting process. It speeds up the decomposing process but stinks to high heaven, hence our dalek bins. Moving one is a game of how long you can hold your breath.

Compost bins

We move them by the rhubarb heap because it's the best place for them, we need the well rotted compost in spring and the rhubarb loves a good mulch at that time, so nothing it wasted. We find the Bramley apple that Andrew grafted to a rootstock several years ago. It's been sat in a pot ever since with plans to put it in the orchard but it has been sat by the rhubarb for years, and is happy there so in the spirit of the wonderful Beth Chatto; this appears to be the right plant in the right place, so we plant it where it loves it.

Apple tree

Apple tree

Aquilegas have already spread around it and we clear away the weeds by hand up to the old coop but after several days of unseasonally warm weather and sun, rain is threatening and the air is ripe with chicken manure we have to shift. We move the fresh stuff back into the compost bins, layering weeds, then fresh manure on top of each other. You can see in the photo below how the well rotted stuff is simply glorious and it rots down after six months to a friable medium.


We don't clear all the field by the time the rain starts but next we will move the brick path, we're going for gravel after Andrew's fall last year, it's more forgiving than brick. We can then map out the raised beds and give this part of the garden it's new identity, we're going to move the raspberries to a bed of their own and see if we can get some autumn varieties too.

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