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Water Harvesting


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I have worked this garden by myself (with occasional help from friends) since October 1998. When I moved in, the garden was almost all lawn, or rough grass, with a few shrubs near the top of the garden and in the border just below the greenhouse.

I garden totally organically, without the use of any chemicals.

In 1999, I dug up the front lawn, erected the second-hand greenhouse, the top green shed and the blue sheds and the trellis, lopped the large conifer by two-thirds of its height, dug up turf, planted the front garden, built four raised beds for the vegetable area, and had the green picket fence erected.

In 2000, I dug and stocked the pond (with friends' help), built the drystone wall below it, created the herbaceous border against the picket fence, put in the box parterre, and built two more raised beds. In 2001, I built two more raised veg beds, created the two borders by the house (next to no 18) and cut down a plum tree in the veg garden. In 2002 I have built two more raised beds, erected the lower green shed and made a new path to the veg garden. In 2003 I made the trellis by the hedge, the border in front of it, and started the border at the bottom of the lawn.

I have stacked all the turf dug from various parts of the lawn, into heaps covered with carpet. This turf, once rotted down for three to four years, produces good topsoil.

Because my water is on a meter, I have six waterbutts taking rainwater from roofs, and an old bath in the veg area to collect water for dry weather.

The pond is not filtered, nor has any pump to circulate water; the water is clear because there are a lot of oxygenating plants in it, as well as a bag of barley straw, which collects algae. There are a large number of newts and frogs living in and around the pond.

I grow comfrey and make liquid fertiliser from it, cutting it three times per summer, and pressing it in a container with a perforated base; the pressed liquid drips through to another container, and is used by diluting with water. I also add the liquid into the waterbutts.

I have a slug and snail problem, and either kill them on sight in the early morning or late evening with a drop of salt, or scatter “Growing Success” Slug Death around tender annuals while they're small. I also use eggshells as deterrent round tender plants. Hostas are in pots and raised high against slug attack. Copper bands round pots are very effective.

Veg: I always grow garlic (planting cloves from the wholefood shop in Nov, and harvesting July/Aug), broad and runner beans, potatoes, onions, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks. I have had no success with carrots, radishes or lettuce, so don't grow them. I grow half the broccoli in the flower borders as it takes up a huge amount of space in my small vegetable area. I use old windows garnered from skips as temporary cold frames to warm the soil in raised beds during early Spring.