The Dug Out’s Secret Garden!

The Dug Out’s Secret Garden Directory!

Series Introduction …

Episode 5# – Courtyard Gardening ..

In the last episode l outlined some of my queries regarding the garden here in the form of five main questions ….

Is it purely an ornamental garden?
NO
Can this garden become a migrational wildlife garden as well as a residential birdlife garden?
YES
Is this garden a multipurpose garden as in – it can grow, fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs?
YES
What do l have to do to repurpose and redefine its identity to become the garden l need?
What will and what will not grow here and in what?
The Courtyard Garden as it looks today Friday 28th August 2020.

.……… also in the previous episodes we have been looking at the changes the garden underwent to make it more efficient. But this episode instead of gallerising July’s photographs, l am going to display to you what the garden looks like today.

In the main the garden here has its defined future shape – there are still little things to be attended to, other issues that either need repair or introduction – but mostly the garden is how it needs to be to travel into Spring 2021 successfully.

Will l be planting anything out in the autumn or winter period of this year – 2020?? No – l don’t think so – l had thought about some garlic but last year’s crop dried very well and we have enough garlic now beteen us to last us for a good while. I am not entirely sure about this – but l still have a couple of months to decide if l will or l will not.

I am still to sit down properly and give thought to what l will be growing next year in the garden in the containers, raised beds and the hanging basket arrangements. The ornamental bed side is fairly well occupied with some decent shrubbery, bush, vines and roses already – so that should compliment anything l grow from this point onwards.

I had to relocate a massive pot bound hydrangea and next month l am to move the lavendars also from one side of the garden to the other so as to allow them the freedom to develop properly into bushes.

For the remainder of the 2020 season, this garden will be taking a small break – l recently awarded the courtyard a massive pruning in readiness for the winter months. I mulched the soils also – l don’t have a ‘lot’ of naked soil, but enough to warrant a proper mulching all the same to allow the natural microbial life form activity to enrich the soils as best as it can.

There are several projects to do in the courtyard – the hanging baskets need to be replaced and moved and if not moved, l am thinking of increasing the two l have in situ to a total of four and these will be for both Tiny Tim tomato and wild strawberry. I have a further five fixed basket and pot containments on the wall in the courtyard and l plan to secure the right 1] containers to fit into both basket and planter and 2] the right fruits and vegetables to plant into them. Outside the conservatory l have plans to start a small herb garden near the raised beds.

The bench whilst it looks pretty is in need of some dire repair unless you don’t mind a wooden splinter or three in your behind. The patio chairs need to be wire brushed down and painted and two need to be secured to the wall to allow for more space – l have plans to paint each chair a different colour, the water butt needs to be attached to the drain pipe here so l can have my own source of rainwater available, the patio table needs to be brushed down also and repainted as do indeed some of the olden styled features here.

The projects are not huge – but they will add some nice features to the garden itself and award some additional practicality to the courtyard too.

Other projects which were started are now in full swing such as the wildlifing of the garden and they are working fairly well …. l have a large variety of birds in the garden each and every day both as individuals and as small partial flocks. I have my garden cameras now, l just need to set them up front and back and this too might provide some valuable insight into garden activity.

Readers to the series will see that there have been some fairly big moves in the garden – like the bench moving out from what seemed like an ideal location – but the reality is that whilst it may have been great for non vegetable growers – it really was only beneficial to ornamental gardeners. The space it occupied was a much better area for containers as this is where the bulk of my vegetables will probably be grown.

The Bokashi fermentation composting process is now in full swing and the system which it plays a valuable part to is now starting to establish itself quite nicely. I am personally currently working on my fourth bin and Suze is working on her second. We have three bins between us. One bin is always empty and when a bin is returned or filled to capacity, the empty bin is the replacement for the one without a bin.

The filled bin sits for a further five days building up it’s leechate as well as completing the fermentation process and then the bins are emptied out and off into both the hot composting unit and the worm farm.

The Hot compost bin has been in full active use in the courtyard since the middle of July and l will not even attempt to look at the finished content just yet. l am in no urgent rush for workable compost so l am not worried if the content is taken out this winter or early spring next year. It achieves remarkable heats every week and burns the contents down very quickly. So all l need to do is ensure the balance is maintained so that an even burn is performed.

I have sufficient back up bins to the hot composter filled with clippings and or leaves and mown grass and these are turned over and given a good shake once every couple of weeks. This means that the composter will never run short of green and brown materials to burn through.

The worm farm is working really well also. It was set up very early in July and the soils and residents were moved over and established long before major garden work began. The worms are now breeding prolifically and are turned and watered once every ten days and fed once every three weeks. As the number of worms increases so too will the quantity of food they receive every session.

The point and purpose of the worm farm is to produce a very fine potting soil with less of the actual physical digging over and sieving process of conventional composting methods. Finished soils will still need sifting through, but the process will not be as intense as it once was because of the way that the worms break down soils naturally.

Once the hot composter has produced a workable content – this will also be worked into the worm farm and left to sit for a couple of months and the worms will tunnel their way into it and break it down further. By late spring and early summer next year the potting soils will be ready to be planted into and will be a very healthy growing medium indeed.

In addition to the hot composter producing a content to be broken down, any soils from existing pots can also be added to the farm and watered in and these too will be worked to a more manageable soil.

Currently from the Bokashi fermentation process to the hot composter to the worm farm – the system is working well.

Finally, rounding up – Ava is doing fairly well – l think we will always have problems with her on account of her wanting to be a tree. The Pepper plants are still performing and the fruits are just starting to redden up. The Cape Gooseberry’s like the peppers will not be cut down this year as they are perenials and l will allow them to die off naturally so that they have a head start for next year. Horseradish was trimmed down ready for next spring.

The Fennel was taken down, it’ll not be grown next season. The Celeriacs were trimmed down and they will probably be harvested between the months of October to March. If they do well, they may well be considered ideal for a permanent place in the vegetable plot line up. The Parsley’s are doing very well and will come in for the winter months.

Anyway – so there we go – the Courtyard Garden as it appears today in real time – you can see there have been a few changes really just to make the overall garden more practical – but it is still very much a lovely garden.

Welcome to the Secret Garden folks see you next time!

11 thoughts on “The Dug Out’s Secret Garden!

    1. Ava is holding her own and l think she will be fine – but sadly we cannot escape the burned tips to her leaves BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTT she doesn’t have the black mottling 🙂 That’s a really good thing – she will survive the winter and start afresh next spring 🙂

  1. Looks like you have some work to keep you busy even if you aren’t growing food. The worm farm is interesting. Will you have more worms than you need? Is this a business opportunity?

    1. Hey Ruth, good observation, l don’t know – it’s the first time l have specifically aimed for producing a working worm farm – be interesting to see how well it develops over the winter period 🙂

    1. Yes l am getting quite attached to my worms – sounds wrong, so very wrong ha ha – but they will produce a seriously healthy compost but also the potting soil will have worm castings to it making it very rich.

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