Bouncing Baby Bed

A lot has happened in the garden this year. After the garage was turned into a new kitchen, we used the old roof beams to make the bouncing baby bed, and filled it with potatoes. It produced a crop of salad potatoes that we are still eating our way through….

Pete took the water supply issues in hand and built Butt City, complete with an aqueduct that harvests water from the new kitchen roof and the shed roof, and stores it in four large, interconnected butts. We didn’t run out of rain water all summer, although it was close at times.

And we collected some old recycling bins and Pete used them to start a container herb garden; most of his plants are still alive and well.

After our hard work in spring, the garden went downhill a bit. There were too many plants in pots; as well as being cluttered the garden suffered in the dry summer when we couldn’t find the energy to water properly. I planted Jerusalem artichokes in the ground for the first time, and they became a rampaging thicket. Sparrows attacked anything green and leafy and wasps took up residence in the (unfruitful) plum tree and made it hazardous to visit the chickens.

All of these issues lead to us deciding on the current remodelling project, which aims to plant more in the ground and less in containers, and make our garden less intensive and a more pleasant place to be.

It wasn’t all bad. We loved picking the wild and alpine strawberries, and are helping them to spread everywhere. The Jerusalem artichoke harvest was huge, and we managed to eat all of our large crop of apples. The new bed is being refilled with perennial greens – hopefully the sparrows will leave enough for the chickens!

Pete also has vivid memories of the day I gave him a flower of paracress Acmella oleracea to try, and is very fond of his pineberries – their runners are trying to assimilate the entire garden, so we’re hoping for a good crop next summer.

I met Dave Hamilton and went to the book launch for his “Grow Your Food For Free”; later in the year Alys Fowler’s Thrifty Forager was another bookish highlight.

On my travels I visited the permaculture smallholding Penrhos and met Chris Dixon, and spent a lovely couple of hours in the Oxford University herbaria – so much so that it inspired an entire week of blog posts: Herbarium Week: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 & Day 5.

Other memorable days were spent learning to make charcoal, eating insects, at the Edible Garden Show and visiting both the RISC Roof Garden and Garden Organic’s new exotic garden.

2011 saw the addition of three new chickens to the flock in spring – Bluebell, Daisy and Buttercup. Sadly the last few days of the year brought the loss of Chewbucka.

On a more personal note, 2011 saw the launch of this shiny new website (thank you, Pete!) and the publication of my Allotment Pocket Bible. I presided over the first Write Club competition, handing over the reins of the blog to all comers, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the results.

I also blogged an entire book – The Peat-Free Diet, which is going to be published as an ebook in the new year. It and the garden redesign are just the beginning of our plans for 2012, so thank you for visiting the site during 2011 and I will see you next year!