The Reg Patch – A Revival

In my head, I call our new flower patch ‘The Reg Patch.’ It was, as I have said before, an immaculate and perfect example of a home veg patch, meticulously managed by my grandfather, Reg.

I’ve felt terribly guilty for years that this once beautiful plot was allowed to be invaded by marauding brambles and thistles, for a number of reasons, but now, finally, the time has come for it to shine, once again.

Whilst I am home with my husband Jim in isolation from Covid-19, we’re using this time to tackle the patch, properly. I have never ached more, I now have muscles I didn’t know existed but I have to admit that it’s incredibly therapeutic to have your hands in the soil, going back to basics, when something so stressful and out of our hands, is going on all around us. I’m incredibly grateful.

If you want to see what the garden was like when we first had it cleared, before I show you the next steps, have a look back at our first post on the garden.

We may have started with a ‘clear’ garden but it’s absolutely covered in couch grass. It’s a perennial weed which regrows from ANY little bit you leave in the ground. As you can imagine, it’s a massive pain in the butt. With the remaining brambles, at least we can dig them out when we see them, but the grass is a whole different ball game. The first picture above was actually taken about two months ago at the beginning of February, so it’s gone pretty mad since then.

We began by marking out where we want the beds and paths to go with stakes and strings. We’re then hand digging the paths and pulling the weeds as we go, (there are SO MANY,) before covering them with weed proofing. Currently the weed proofing membrane is held down with bricks and stones, but the wind today is pulling it all up, so some gravel will be on order as a matter of urgency!

Bracken is doing his bit by turfing up areas where he suspects there to be mice. So far he hasn’t actually found any.

The garden is an L shape, which helps to compartmentalise the jobs. We decided to go for a 1m bed by each of the three walls in the lower half, with a large central bed for dahlias. The garden is South Easterly, so gets a nice lot of sun, but the church next to it does cast quite a bit of shade in the morning!

Each bed is weeded, dug, weeded, manured, weeded and left for now. Our lovely neighbour a few doors up is helping us with contactless manure! Her pony, Mac, has been doing an excellent job. Each morning this week, Jim has been over to their garden gate where they’ve left a pile of bagged, well rotted manure. So far we’re into the 60’s quantity wise. We’ve put some straight on the beds we aren’t using for the moment and piled the rest to use as mulch.

Bracken & Luna think it’s the tastiest of snacks, so we’ve found a tarp which we’ll cover it up with next week. Aren’t dogs delightful!

There was one bed, which we just couldn’t face weeding. It runs the length of the garden and was so covered in grass, we weeded one foot, between us, in half an hour. So, we’ve experimented. Once we’ve initially dug all the beds, we will implement the ‘no dig’ method, where you just cover the bed with a deep mulch layer. We don’t have time now to wait a year whilst this method kills the couch grass! But, on this particularly annoying bed, we decided we could give it the time.

We cleared a number of 1ft squares and planted some dodgy jasmines (used for bouquets and cut down, but still alive…!) against the new wire fencing, which I hope will revive and be saved from the compost heap. We then layered cardboard on top of the soil and covered it in a deep layer of manure. Fingers crossed this works, I’ll keep you posted!

One thing to bear in mind with all this, if you’re a seasoned gardener and rolling your eyes wondering what on earth I’m doing – bear in mind that I don’t know most of the time! Whilst I’m excellent with cut flowers, growing them is completely new to me. I learn best by trial and error, so this is all just one big experiment!

The garden is also an exercise in recycling and using up what we already have. As you can imagine, whilst the shop is shut due to Covid-19, we have to be careful of funds. We already owned the weedproofing and the few plants which we have now put in – self seeded ammi from our other flower patch, a viburnum opulus, lilac, white “Snowball’ hydrangea and also a Hydrangea paniculata, who’s variety name has escaped me for the moment. The new rosemary plants were rescued from the shop when I closed up last week.

We have a well in the garden, which is our only water source. As the water has to be drawn from the well and allowed to warm up before it can be put on the plants, we’ve used the old bath we took out of the bathroom as a water store! Not particularly glamorous, but it’s certainly practical.

Our three new compost heaps are made from pallets and the wood we have now put around the beds we found in our workshop – remnants from the petrol station buildings which used to be here. Some are painted which isn’t ideal, but when funds allow we will swap these out for something else. For now, they do the job and we won’t be growing veg in these beds either.

We’re taking the weekend to rest our aching bodies, but I have spent the day sowing seeds and on Monday we will be back to work in the garden. I’m so impressed with us and the amount we have achieved this week – I wonder what it will look like next weekend?

Stay safe everyone, we’ll post our progress next weekend again!

Grace xx