We have a large area for growing veggies; six rectangles of about 2 x 4 metres. We like to grow a mixture of root and leaf crops, tomatoes and herbs. Growing our own is really satisfying and it tastes delicious too. Plus our nearest supermarket is an hour away so it’s nice and convenient.
Our sheep are largely responsible for the success of our veggies. Our veggie patch is covered in sheep dung and over the years this has hugely improved the condition of the soil and the worm-count.
Every spring we pile on the dung before sowing. It’s tough work, but it looks great once its done with a deep layer of mulch blanketing everything including the weeds. We pull out the perennials like docks and nettles but the annuals are left to be splatted into submission.
The worms look forward to the annual dung party too, they love nothing more than to get stuck into it, creating little tunnels, wriggling around and creating the perfect environment for crops to grow in.
As spring unfolds and the baby crops start peeking out, it’s time to watch out for snails, slugs and blackbirds. We carefully net off young crops to give them a chance to establish before the blackbirds pull them out. Once the plants are big enough, we remove the netting and get to work with the second phase of mulching: the sheeps’ wool layer.
We lay wool around our crops for several reasons: as a barrier to slugs and snails, (their soft bodies don’t like the scratchy, dry sensation of wool). To stop the soil from drying out, to provide a barrier against weed seeds floating past looking for some soil to land on. Wool mulch is great for so many reasons and one of the best, it’s really handy to have a layer of wool to walk on when rummaging about in amongst the crops snipping spinach leaves for dinner.
At the end of the growing season we’ll be giving our sheep a big helping of turnips and carrots as a thank you.