Fruit and Vegetable Garden

About the Fruit and Vegetable Garden                                                                            

Purpose

The wall was built 25ft inside our boundary so that its south and east facing sides could be used to grow wall-trained fruit trees, and the remaining area outside of the wall could be laid out to accommodate two crop rotation systems.  The fruit and vegetable garden is an experiment to find out just what it takes to become self-sufficient in as many home grown resources as possible, and this experiment extends to cover the use of our own water gathered from the roof of the house, and the installation of solar panels and a wind turbine (sadly now dismantled due to mechanical problems) aiming to provide power for a ground source heat pump under the lawn in front of the house.  I dry, pickle or freeze almost all the food produce, which means harvests that are seasonal when fresh are available year-round, either frozen or stored in jars. Everything about the fruit and vegetable garden is experimental, meaning primarily that all activities are designed as a quest for information rather than for specific results. Every year I fully expect half of everything to fail, and I only abandon a crop once I have tried five different ways to grow it, so hopefully over the years I'll  learn better ways to grow tricky crops and which to avoid completely.  

Contents

All along the wall a range of fruit trees are in the process of being wall trained, and in the beds at the foot of the wall there are early, middle and late season strawberries together with red currant, white currant and blackcurrant bushes. The long vegetable beds create a five bed rotation of legumes, brassicas, cucubitaceae, onions, and roots, and the square beds are currently being used for an experimental rotation of sweetcorn, potato substitute crops (I got fed up with eating potatoes!), and mixed pumpkins and winter squash.  There are a further five permanently planted beds containing globe artichokes and chicory, asparagus, raspberries, cobnuts underplanted with mint, and perennial herbs.

History

The hard landscaping for the vegetable garden was done in late summer of 2008, once the wall was complete.  The fruit trees, bushes and strawberries were all planted in January 2009, and 2009 was the first full year for the two 5-bed crop rotation systems in the vegetable beds. Below are some photos of the site before and during its construction.

Peak Season: June/July for soft fruit, August/September for vegetables

The strawberry harvest seems to last four weeks and starts in the third or fourth week of June depending on the weather, with the blackcurrants peaking at around the same time followed a few weeks later by white and red currants. With the exception of onions, the vegetable beds tend to look very unexciting until later on in the summer, when everything suddenly explodes into growth and all manner of knobbly and peculiar edible things appear until late autumn. the gallery below contains photos taken in early and late summer of 2016.