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Taking Back Control

veggie patch overgrown

Last year’s veggie growing didn’t go well.  What with constant rain, little sun and an army of slugs and snails, we did not get much of a harvest.

vegetable patchesThis year, we were determined to do better.  Nematodes took care of the slugs and snails.  All plants were grown to a good size before planting out and carrots are in their own special box.  This has worked quite well and the veggie patch is looking good (see right).

veggie patch overgrownWe have two veggie patches, one that was here already and the one in the picture to the right that we built.  With all the focus on the new patch, we took our eye off the old patch and this (left) is what happened. It didn’t take long.

Now, one of the problems we have here in SW Scotland is that the growing season is a bit shorter.  We have a greenhouse but it’s not very big.  So, we have invested in a polytunnel which is planned to go over this weedy area.

The polytunnel has been delivered and sits awaiting action in our shed.  It was time to take back control.

covering weeds eith cardboardThe original plan was to cover the area with a weed membrane.  However, I saw a good idea on twitter that comes from the “no dig” school of thinking.  Cardboard topped with mulch.  We had plenty cardboard lying around.  With COVID, we are buy much more stuff online, so plenty of boxes pass through our front door these days.  We added our spin on this approach by covering the cardboard with wool.  This is waste wool that can’t be used in Nicole’s rugs, so would have gone to compost anyway.  I’m hoping that the damp wool will stop the cardboard blowing away.

The paths were covered in underlay from our bedroom floor.  In case you’re wondering, I recently laid a new wooden floor replacing a rather old carpet.

veg patch coveredMost of the cardboard was soggy having sat in a pile outside, so I got pretty wet carrying it over.  But, bit by bit, I have reclaimed most of the patch.  I ran out of cardboard before I got it all covered.  This has not resulted in an online buying frenzy, but all boxes that arrive are soon snapped up and put to use.

Once the polytunnel is up, the growing areas will be covered in mulch provided by our sheep.  By next year, this should provide an excellent growing area.

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Compost Shuffle

compost bin

Part of the sustainable living ethos is re-using stuff.  We generate a lot of garden waste and this all goes into a large compost bin.  Of course, over time, it fills up.  I have found the best thing to do is to move all the compost into bins and leave it for a few months to rot down properly.

compost bin emptied
Emptied and ready for more

That said, first the bins need to be emptied (having been filled last time).  So, what I have a three stage system.  There are bins with useable compost, bins with compost that is rotting down and the large collection bin.

At the compost shuffle, I put all the usable compost into old plastic feed or compost bags and take it to the greenhouse.  Then I tip all the compost from the green bins into the “ready bins”.  Then I tip all the stuff in the big bin into the teo green bins.

It’s a lot of work, but it only needs to be done a couple of times a year.  And it’s very satisfying once it’s all done.

We also have wormeries for the kitchen waste.  They are enclosed so no tempting titbits for rats or crows, both of which can be a bit of a pest.