by Julie Stobbart
In my last blog post I talked about my gravel front garden and my plans for the space. I have spent a month arguing with myself about my plans for this garden. The only thing that is certain is that I want to grow salad leaves and greens. My original design for the space incorporated a bit of a Pagan colour scheme, with the east being used for white and pale colours, the south containing oranges and reds, the west blues and purples and the north greens and blacks. My main decision has been how much of the garden to put to cut flower production and how much to salads and greens. I have spent hours considering the pros and cons of annuals versus perennials, and trying to figure out whether to remove the gravel or use pots. I also need to consider the allotment that I hope to have in a year or two, and how these two spaces can work together.
I came to the conclusion that my garden is my zone 1 space, right next to the house, and therefore needs to be used for those things that I need to be able to nip out and pick a few of such as salads, greens and edible flowers. Cut flowers will be grown where I can nip along and pick a bunch every week, therefore probably the allotment. It would also be difficult to grow flowers for cutting in the front garden and deliberately go out and hack them down. I have a few snowdrops and daffodils planted with other perennials in the front garden and these will be enough the cheer me up in the spring when there is precious little else in the garden and I am desperately waiting for a sign of spring!
The first practical step has been removing an additional strip of gravel from the front of the garden. The gravel was moved to the middle of the ‘garden’, the membrane was left down, then a Bokashi bin’s contents was sprinkled over followed by four bags of compost. I deliberately left the membrane down which moved me towards annuals only, as perennials need more root space. I am now planning in March to plant areas of borage and pansies in the west and calendula and nasturtiums in the south. Kale, chard, spinach and salad will be interspersed between them. I’m also going to bring on some basil in the house in my heated propagator.
The next step will then be to dig out the gravel down each side of the garden, creating a border around much of the garden. These will be filled with further cut/edible flowers and later planting of the greens and leaves. Finally, the area at the bay window may be dug out to create a planting space underneath the window boxes that will contain annual herbs. Later on in the year these will be replaced with winter greens that may end up being protected by cloches.
I am also planning for my Ostara feast, which on this year is unfortunately going to be on Saturday 22nd March due to prior work commitments. My decorations are up, such as my felt wreath, my daffodil wreath and my salt dough decoration. I tend to change my decorations over about two weeks after a festival so that I have a month of build-up for the next one. Last year’s meal involved chocolate eggs being scattered all over the table and my son gorging on them and not eating his meal, but I guess that’s what it’s all about. I really enjoy planning the meal that I will share with family and friends, and for Ostara I don’t have a traditional meal yet so get to chop and change what I make. A big focus tends to be eggs, so I usually have to make a choice between an egg-based main course such as quiche and an egg-based dessert like lemon meringue pie. However this year I am getting into vegan baking so I might make a lemon pie from one of my vegan recipe books. This might be different enough to mean that a quiche is okay for my main course, then maybe a baby green leaf and sprout salad for starter with a honey and mustard dressing. I’m thinking vegetarian for this meal. I used to be vegetarian however now eat some fish and a little meat, but for the last couple of feasts we have had meat so it might be nice to heave a meat-free feast on this occasion.