More than just a garden
The Kitchen Garden
We started this garden in 1997, initially digging all the beds by hand as in those days we had no machinery at our disposal. The original design gradually altered as we started to use the garden in earnest and settled into it’s current layout in 1999. We added the final touches in 2002 with such things as the raised raspberry bed.
The Kitchen Garden provides food for the household and allows the 3 of us to be self sufficient in vegetables as well as providing a bit of surplus in good years. Crops are grown on a 4 year rotation to keep the soil in good heart and to allow each successive crop to benefit in some way from the one before.
Pests are largely kept under control by natural predators such as ladybirds, beetles, slowworms, toads, newts and birds. We do our bit by providing them with shelter in the form of hedges and areas of undergrowth. Some years a wasps nest will appear in the garden and although this can be a little inconvenient the wasps do a good job of keeping down the caterpillars on the brassicas.
In general the only additional protection we find necessary is to net peas and brassicas against pigeons, and strawberries against blackbirds. Some early protection for transplanted vegetables such as courgettes and beans is necessary to prevent slug damage. We do this by wrapping the stems at ground level with a tin foil collar.
There are no hard and fast rules where natural pest control is concerned and we have discovered by trial and error what works here. Much of this is transferable, but each garden will have its own environment with which to work. The underlying rule, however is to let nature find its own balance and then tweak things around the edges if necessary.
Weed control in the Kitchen Garden is done by hoeing during the growing season. Once a bed is emptied of its crop, we sow it with a green manure. At the end of the season this is cut and either dug in or composted and we cover the bed for the winter with a sheet of black polythene weighted down with tyres, having first applied any manure required by the rotation.
How to contact us:
Ian & Liz O'Halloran
Chilsham Lane, Herstmonceux
Tel 01323 831726