Our new growing area will be five or six times larger than our original little Ballyer backyard. The polytunnel we have ordered is just a foot off the width, and a little under half the length, of that whole garden.
It will be a huge learning curve, so we’re determined to be as organised and methodical as we can in setting it up and starting to grow. Hopefully over the course of a few growing seasons, our approach can become more instinctual and creative, but for now discipline is required.
To that end spending adequate time planning and researching is vital. So far we have mapped the space and determined how many new raised beds need to go in (and how much wood and compost we need to source to make them). We have determined what we want to grow (alphabetical list below), how much of each crop and where it will be grown. All this information has been collated in a spreadsheet, from which a month by month sowing plan will be generated (we’ll start indoor sowing in February). It remains to be seen how our calculations on space and volume will work out.
Our seed has been ordered and mostly received. We bought from tried and tested organic providers around Ireland: the Organic Centre (Leitrim), Irish Seed Savers (Clare), Brown Envelope Seeds (Cork) and Fruit Hill Farm (also Cork; we have ordered seed potatoes and garlic from them). We noticed that already some seed sellers are struggling to cope with the early demand. This is a hopeful sign that yet more people have been inspired to start growing their own.
We’ve also been continuing the heavy work, chipping away at the mound of garden waste compost we uncovered in our little wilderness area. So far we’ve moved maybe a tonne or more, bagging up a few barrow loads and adding some to the polytunnel base area.
Today we used it and some well rotted grass cuttings to create the base layer of the first of two new beds in our front garden area in front of a low south-facing wall, where we plan to build structures for peas and beans to climb. Early potatoes will go into these beds also as companion plants. This area is a bit of a frost pocket in winter, due to a high facing hedge, so the new beds will be for spring/summer crops only.
2021 crop list
Basil (Italian & Thai)
Beans (Broad & French)
Cauliflower (summer & winter)
Peas (sweet and mangetout)