Henry’s First Harvest!

We’ve involved our 1 year old, Henry, in the garden as much as possible from a very early age, and now that he’s standing we can do much more with him around the raised beds than ever before!

We always grow our potatoes in buckets, and when it came to harvesting our first main crops, it was only natural that Henry should lead the way!

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Open Farm Sunday at Washingpool Farm

We recently had a holiday in Dorset, staying in a cottage at Washingpool Farm, and by a stroke of good fortune, the first day of our visit coincided with Open Farm Sunday!

This meant we could explore the whole farm that was literally on our doorstep; fantastic for Henry as he loves seeing animals, especially chickens, and great news for me as I was able to explore the farm’s polytunnels and growing fields! It was like vegetable garden heaven!

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Forde Abbey Kitchen Gardens

I’m a sucker for visiting a stately home if they’ve got a working kitchen garden within the grounds!

I loved West Dean Walled Kitchen Garden and Clumber Park is quite close to home (although I don’t visit it as often as I’d like to) so during our recent holiday in Dorset, Forde Abbey was definitely on the list of things to do!

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Asparagus Fail…

We love asparagus and eat quite a lot of it, but let’s be honest – the season is very short and asparagus is best served fresh from the garden, so when we buy it from the supermarket we know it’s not at its best, and it’s probably been flown in from some far-flung location!

So when we designed our vegetable garden it made sense to dedicate one of the raised beds to asparagus, so we could cut it and eat it within minutes, enjoying this delicacy at its finest!

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Garden Update May 2016

It’s been a glorious weekend in our part of the UK and we’ve made the most of it by catching up on jobs in the garden!

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We did lots of tidying and planting; seedlings that we’d started in the greenhouse were desperate for potting on or planting out!

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Garden Inspiration – West Dean College

As part of the filming we did for the programme Big Dreams, Small Spaces, we were taken on an ‘Inspirational Visit’ to a place that specialised in a particular aspect of gardening that we were interested in.

When Monty saw that Richard had a passion for growing chillies, he immediately recommended that we go to West Dean College near Chichester, which is about 5 hours away from where we live!

However, once we made the journey we realised what a perfect location it was for us to visit!

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The gardens surrounding the college are just out of this world, with our interest being drawn particularly to the Walled Kitchen Gardens. Not only was this a fascinating place to see vegetables, herbs and fruit grown on a spectacular scale and tour round the rows and rows of Victorian glasshouses, West Dean also specialise in growing over 250 different varieties of chilli plants, and hold an annual Chilli Fiesta!

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During our visit we were well looked after by Gardens Supervisor, Sarah Wain, who very kindly shared her knowledge and expertise with us not just about planting and growing chillies but also on lots of other aspects of gardening, such as how they grow their impressive collection of fruit trees.

As is always the case with filming, we were constrained by time and could only see a small portion of the West Dean gardens, so we vowed to visit again, and the Chilli Fiesta seemed like the perfect time to do that, when the Kitchen Gardens were also in full growth!

A few chillies at the @westdeancollege #chillifiesta #hot

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So many #chillies at @westdeancollege #chillifiesta

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There's a giant in the tomato greenhouse at @westdeancollege #chillifiesta 😜

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#vegetables growing at @westdeancollege #chillifiesta #greenhouse #growyourown #goodlife #gardening #vegenvy

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#colour in the @westdeancollege gardens for the #chillifiesta #nofilter #gardening #flowers 🌺🌼

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If you’re a keen vegetable gardener we can highly recommend a trip to West Dean no matter where you’re based in the UK, the South Downs is a beautiful part of the South of England and there are plenty more places to visit during your stay!

We can also recommend a lovely B&B which is about 30 minutes away from West Dean called ‘Old Dairy Farm‘ at Emsworth – really good quality accommodation run by lovely people!

Introducing Chickens to the Garden

We’ve been looking forward to having a small flock of chickens for several years now, so this was an essential part of the plan when we designed our vegetable garden!

After doing a lot of research on the numerous houses that are available, I settled on this one that we built and painted ourselves so it was inkeeping with the look of our cottage garden.

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We sited the chickens at the back of the garden so they were away from our neighbours and we could allow them a large run, but as this is right against the field that borders our property, we spent a lot of time and effort to make sure the run and house were as ‘predator proof’ as possible.

We dug a trench around the boundary of their pen and lined it with bricks that had come from our house renovation. The chicken house itself is placed on slabs to keep it level and we surrounded the base with chicken wire too so Mr Fox couldn’t sneak underneath the house!

IMG_7148 IMG_7167 IMG_7069A local timber yard made us the individual panels for the chicken run, which we then constructed and painted to match the house!

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We created a dust bath area from the base of an old wheelbarrow that had finally given up on us during the renovations, which the chickens are very pleased with!

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Generally chicken runs are 6ft high to give humans room to move around when cleaning etc. but we didn’t want it to encroach on our views of the surrounding fields – after a year of scrambling around in the pen, I’m not sure if Richard still thinks this was a good idea!

Finally…

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