Moving house (and sides of the country) in the middle of a pandemic is not to be recommended. But now we’ve arrived at our destination it’s definitely paying us back for all the stress and sleepless nights.
We’ve traded our little Ballyer Backyard in Dublin city for a spacious garden in a small town in north Roscommon. The garden is a mature one with high walls on two sides and hedges and fencing on the others. There are upwards of twenty trees: lots of birch, a cherry blossom, holly, hawthorn and an apple which is currently covered in golf-ball sized fruits of unknown variety.
Hedging is used within the garden to divide the space into two areas: a sort of inner garden nearest the house and an outer area, where most of the growing will happen. It has gotten very bushy and brambly, having been minimally maintained for a number of years and will need a serious haircut later in the year when nesting season is over. Ditto the shrubs that have been used to punctuate the trees around the garden’s border which have run wild with brambles and ivy. A tree surgeon will be needed for the big pruning jobs.
In preparation for the move we started some seedlings to bring with us to Roscommon so that the spring/summer growing season wouldn’t be a total write off. Because they were kept in small pots a little longer than we, or they, would have liked, they are way behind where they should be size-wise at this stage in the summer, but hopefully July will bring them along in the generously proportioned pots we’ve replanted them in, filled with a specially formulated nutrient-rich compost called EnviroGrind. The selection includes broad beans, green beans, leeks, tomatoes, chillies, coriander, courgettes and a small amount of carrots and beetroots. If we have even a small supply of courgette and tomatoes later in the summer we’ll be thrilled.
Also in pots I sowed more carrots, beetroot, coriander and parsley as well as mange tout, parsnips and cavolo nero (with seeds saved from a plant in our Dublin garden).
We’ve decided to take our time planning the garden so have set up just one bed for now, which we plan to plant with turnips (our first time) and greens. The plan is to use the no-dig method (after Charles Dowding throughout the garden.
For our first bed we used grass clippings in different stages of decay we found in one of the overgrown corners of the garden. These form the weed suppressing layer of the bed (maybe four or five inches in depth), topped off with a generous few inches of EnviroGrind compost. We’ve plenty of cardboard from our packing boxes to use to create paths and to suppress weeds during the winter months.
This largest part of the garden will be the main growing area, with beds running down the centre, and a polytunnel to the side. Smaller growing areas will be set up in other parts of the garden. For example, herbs will be planted in the inner garden, nearest the glasshouse and house.
There is an old glasshouse onsite waiting for refurbishment.
And a good-sized, brick built shed containing a partitioned area with a separate doorway that we have earmarked for a potential chicken house. We suspect it once housed goats.
We’ve started a compost heap in the corner near the animal shed. A three-bay structure made of wood pallets is to follow…
The front part of the garden has a good sized lawn. We’d like to retain plenty of space here for the dogs to play in, but might set up unobtrusive growing areas in future such as structures for growing peas and beans.