The Back Garden Project and a New Friend.

Hands up! How many of us brought a new dog into our lives at the start of the first lockdown? That would be me! Our beloved German Shepherd passed away in the summer of 2019. She lived to be 12. It was quieter in the house even though she really wasn’t a noisy dog, neither did she take up too much space, surprisingly, considering how big she was. At first we really couldn’t bare to get a new dog straight away. I quite liked a house that wasn’t covered in dog fur too.

Time passed and the impending presence of a lockdown, where who knows what we were going to be allowed to do, loomed. I was desperate for a new companion. That’s when Pugsley came in (I’ll give you one guess at what breed he is). He came home as lockdown hit on the 23rd of March 2020. 8 weeks old. Since then he has proved a menace. He has wrecked our carpets and that’s not just with pee accidents. He’s chewed them to pieces, he has several toys to chew and chew sticks! He has also gnawed on the table and chair legs. I was starting to wonder what I had let myself in for. I was used to large gentle giants but the rescue charities wouldn’t let us have a large dog with a 5 year old. So a pup it was.

Also around the time of lockdown no.1 I was over whelmed with the allotment. It was becoming an increasing struggle to upkeep it mostly on my own, with no transport. The committee did regular checks to ensure plots were acceptable and mine was just falling into a patch of thistles and docks and goodness knows what else. The ground was sloped, it was uneven, there was a mounting pile of rubbish I couldn’t get removed. A pile of flags I could barely lift to lay, even if the ground had been even. I had taken that plot on from scratch, it was just a marked off part of a field. It turned out to be a little more than I could manage alone at the time. It was time for me to admit defeat. I handed in my notice. A weight lifted off my shoulders. One less responsibility and bill.

I still needed to grow though! My back garden was half flower patch, half decking (the husbands choice, I’m not a fan). I put my thinking cap on. It hadn’t been a flower patch long. The ground was always really claggy because of the clay soil. It was hard to get things going in there. It would benefit from raised planters. Especially with the neighbours giant tree roots coming under the fence and making it awkward in some places to dig. So that was that, decision made. The plants were coming out again. I was going to splash the cash and get myself some nice raised beds. You can do it much cheaper with wood. Many builders and workmen might offer up pieces every so often for free if you collect. That’s how I got the wood for the planters on the allotment originally.

My back garden doesn’t get a lot of sun, it faces north. Our neighbours one side have very thick tall trees which help block a lot of light out. It wasn’t going to stop me though. I knew where the sun did hit in the summer, so I would put the vegetables that needed the most sun in those places. What did nearly stop this new project though was the unprecedented demand gardening and seed companies had during that lockdown. Along with Covid-19 taking down workforces, it took what felt like an eternity to get anything delivered. The Post seemed to be backed up as more and more people were ordering everything online, with physical shops being forced to close. Plants ordered, arrived in poor conditions. Dead in some cases.

The raised beds arrived eventually, I wasted no time in assembling them. I laid damp cardboard under where the beds were going to go. I had left over plastic weed membrane, which I didn’t really want to use but it was better than sending it to landfill. So I used it for where my path was to be. Once the beds were built and in position, the next challenge presented itself. Where on earth was there some compost to be found? In bulk! With the world now at home and noticing their gardens, stocks of compost had depleted (a bit like peat, buy peat free!). Then I discovered a local garden centre which I didn’t know existed before, who had just got a pallet of compost in stock! Hurrah! I rang them straight away and secured about 10 bags. The husband was sent down to collect the next day.

Finally I could complete the set up in my back garden. I now had 7 reasonably sized raised beds in the modest back garden of a 3 bed semi.

It was time to plan, sow and transplant.

Oh! But remember the new menace I mentioned earlier? Turns out he really liked getting the zoomies and whizzing around from one bed to another. Churning up the compost as he went. Hmmm. I needed to temporarily cover these beds so he couldn’t climb on them. The first year I used Enviromesh. It bothered me though. I managed to get some metal hoops as a frame from a local person giving them away. However I didn’t really like the way the mesh sat over them and I had to use my clothes pegs to hold it down. I just can’t make it look nice. Our living room looks out onto our back garden too. So I’d prefer it to look a little more French potager chic. So this year is the year I dog proof the veg plot. I’m fencing it in!

Did you start any big projects in any of the lockdowns? I was slowly taking up the lawn in my front garden too. I completed the top part of one side in the first lockdown to make way for dwarf pear trees. That’s another story for another blog post though I think. Let me know in the comments what you got up to.

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