A waste of space

The end of our house; our neighbour’s pink house overlooks this area

We live in a cul-de-sac… near the end. This means that our plot of land is a funny shape. Not triangular, but much wider behind the house than in front of it. The house is oblong, the rear garden extends along the back and down either side, we park the car in front and then there’s this strange bit of space to the left as you look at the house that is tarmaced, but not where the car goes and outside the garden and overlooked by our next door neighbours. We have lived here for more than 10 years and in all that time the only thing that we have ever done with this small area is store things… usually things like rubble or building materials.

Sunshine and shade and access into the garden

This, however, is changing. In order to optimise the use of our land, I want this area to be productive. It is at the northeast corner of the house and is in the shade some of the day, but it does get sunshine first thing and as the afternoon progresses. I really didn’t fancy removing the tarmac, so for the time being it is going to be used for container growing. The first crop that we have installed is potato… in bags filled with lovely homemade compost. These were started off in the greenhouse to give them an early boost, but now they are outdoors fending for themselves. The chickens like potato tops, so having them in the main part of the garden would have required some sort of barrier to be constructed around them… but putting them in our dead space means they are protected from hungry beaks – a win-win situation. Also they are just two metres from the IBC, so watering will be a doddle. HURRAH!

We’ve got bags of potatoes!

There is plenty of space round there, as it turns out and so then next things I’m going to put there are two large pots of mangetout because they can make use of the vertical space too, growing up the fence. They haven’t germinated yet, but they are in their pots in the greenhouse, so fingers crossed. And finally this year I am going to make use of one of those dumpy bags we have been saving because they ‘might be useful for something’ (our whole house is full of stuff that ‘might be useful’). If you don’t know, dumpy bags are those big sacks that building material arrives in – sand, soil, gravel, wood chips… the builders merchants won’t take them back, so you end up accumulating them. They are amazingly strong and we have cut them up to use as weed-proofing under the paths between the raised beds, but we don’t need any more for that purpose. So, I am going to fill one of them as much as I can with compost (I might be able to manage a depth of 25cm) and try growing squashes in it… that way I can empty the two compost bins that I would normally leave a bit longer to finish rotting down, since squashes like a compost heap to grow in. I’ll put it in the spot that gets the maximum amount of sunshine and hopefully I will have created yet another productive growing space.

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  1. That looks great – and so tidy. I would love to grow some edibles at the front of our house (especially now that we live on a quieter road); the layout of our plot and parking makes it difficult, though not impossible, but my beloved isn’t too keen. I’ll keep working on him (especially as I think it would be a great place for seed crops because it’s quite well isolated!).
    Regarding your squashes in a bag take a look at this lovely post and blog: http://clairescrops.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/zapallito-de-toscana.html – Claire has moved to a new garden now but her archive has lots of excellent stuff about growing food in difficult conditions. And you probably know about http://www.verticalveg.org.uk too but just in case, it’s also a really useful resource.
    Fingers crossed for a great new harvest 🙂


    • Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out now (the fog is rolling in, so there’s no temptation to head outdoors). I think that our containerised crops should be fine out the front – we also have a bit of ‘meadow’ out there (read unmown lawn) that I really want to make use of, but the council spray the edge of the road with weedkiller periodically and I would fear for any plants as we have no barrier between garden and road and in theory are not supposed to erect one. I think I might just put in some sort of fence anyway because the council probably wouldn’t care and will never build the planned pavement that is the reason we’re not supposed to have a boundary fence or wall.
      By-the-way, I love your blog


  2. Hello. We are about to make the garden out of builders sacks (dumpies?) and are filling them halfway with broken up polystyrene chunks. This will insulate, give the roots something to wriggle round, make the bags lighter and use half the compost. I’d also go for the fence.


    • I have used polystyrene in the bottom of large pots in the past, but we seem to have very little of it these days – it’s used less and less as packaging and we are such rubbish consumers, we hardly ever buy anything that would require it anyway!


  3. Nice, we have about 9 dumpy bag compost heaps suspended in pallet bays and one is always filled with squashes over the summer. Should really have a go at weighing our winter squash harvest to get an idea of how it varies year to year.


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