Pardon the Weeds, We’re Feeding the Bees

The bottom of our vegetable garden has always been a difficult weedy spot, the usual suspects such as nettles and docks with some rather beautiful cow parsley. For a couple of years we tried to tame this area to turn it over to growing food, but over time we realised it wasn’t going to happen.

The first year we tried digging it all out removing as much root as we could. They came back. The second year we tried covering with cardboard to block out light and nutrients. They came back again. Weed killer is a big NO in our garden, so this left us with one option – leave it be and let it go wild. And you know what, I’m so glad we did! Alive with bees and other wildlife, this has quickly become our favourite part of the garden.

A log pile in the garden can be home to many types of garden wildlife. How cute is this mouse?! I probably won’t think so when she steals my peas!!

The nettle patches and docks are flowering now and attracting small moths we have never seen in the garden before. Bees and hoverflies flock to the cow parsley flowers which are just starting to go over. We added a little pond at the beginning of the year which has blended in beautifully and already home to some rather fat tadpoles, the frog and newt population in our garden has grown from strength to strength since putting in numerous wildlife ponds over the years, the total count now is 3 wildlife ponds (no fish) with one large fish pond near the house. It’s so lovely to watch bees and birds drinking from them too.

We planted buddleia which are very attractive to butterflies when in flower and sown numerous wildflower seed mixes.

The wood forget-me-not further down the border were already well established and such a welcome sight in spring, we have enjoyed the flowers for much longer this year due to the prolonged cold/wet weather in May. On the far side of the garden near the compost bins we decided to leave a section of grass to grow, just a wide strip which has become a refuge for frogs during the hot weather we’ve been having lately.

If you can, allow a section of your garden or allotment to grow wild. It doesn’t have to be large, just a small area can be a safe haven or source of food for garden visitors.

Tour of the New Kitchen Garden

raised beds, vegetable garden, veg patchThe new kitchen garden has been a joy to work on, it’s great to finally see my plans before me, rather than on paper. Each raised bed will be filled with compost rich in chicken manure straight from the compost bins, it’s lovely stuff with a beautiful earthy smell. I’ve decided to try the no dig method used by Charles Dowding for most of the beds, although due to timing, one bed has already been dug over and prepared for planting garlic in autumn.

RhubarbThe rhubarb bed is looking great, this is a young crown of Timperley Early which is a favourite of mine to grow because it’s super early and great for forcing. I resisted the urge to pull a few sticks this year, leaving it to grow strong and healthy for future harvests.

backyard chicken
Cheska the chicken inspecting the nasturtium

wildlife pond

Squeezed into a sheltered corner of the kitchen garden is a wildlife pond, our garden is full of frogs and newts and you can never have too many wildlife ponds and areas in my opinion. I planted herbs around the edges to grow wild and unruly for a natural look, most are flowering herbs to attract bees and pollinators.

A frog smiling back at me
A frog smiling back at me

I used potted ivy and wood logs at the very back of the pond for a natural, rustic look. The new kitchen garden is pulling plenty of wildlife in already, including these little guys…

cabbage white caterpillar

In the centre of the kitchen garden is a mature apple tree with a little table and chair set underneath, every kitchen garden needs a place to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Apple tree

Collecting fallen apples for a crumble
Collecting fallen apples for a crumble

Below is the view from the kitchen garden, back towards the house.

vegetable garden

I’m looking forward to working with my soil and improving it with plenty of organic matter over time, the texture appears to be a light sandy type which is just perfect for root veg.

garden hens

The chickens seem to like the kitchen garden, although I’ll have to find a way to keep them out soon!