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A gar­den ded­i­cated to self-suf­fi­ciency

Amateur Gardening - - Content -

“We es­tab­lished a bed sys­tem and fol­low a four-year ro­ta­tion,” says Maria, a re­tired teacher. In terms of cul­ti­vars, we stick to what we know grows well in our clay soil, such as ‘Early On­ward’ peas and ‘Nantes 2’ car­rots – we try others but we keep com­ing back to these. We don’t use chem­i­cals: we stick to nat­u­ral pest con­trols, such as grow­ing gar­lic be­tween roses to de­ter green­fly.”

Fur­ther ad­di­tions in­clude a poly­tun­nel, which offers pro­tec­tion for more ten­der crops and ex­tends the grow­ing season for veg­eta­bles such as let­tuce and sweet­corn. It’s also used to pro­duce new pota­toes for Christ­mas din­ners.

“The orig­i­nal plan was to grow lots of toma­toes in the tun­nel, but it was too hu­mid,” Maria ex­plains.

There is also a row of fruit bushes cre­ated from friends’ cut­tings. They call it a ‘San Fairy Ann’ patch – a cor­rup­tion of the French for ‘noth­ing re­ally mat­ters’ and is there to re­mind them of friends past and present.

The sis­ters fine-tuned their fruit and veg­etable-grow­ing op­er­a­tion af­ter a visit from the late Patrick White­field, a per­ma­cul­ture ex­pert, a few years ago.

“He en­cour­aged us to make the most of the space we had, to move away from grow­ing things in con­tain­ers in favour of the gar­den it­self, in which the soil has been worked for as long as the cot­tage had been here,” says Anne.

“He also sug­gested ‘no-dig’ gar­den­ing by Charles Dowd­ing. It all helped fo­cus the mind.”

As well as look­ing af­ter their own gar­den, Maria and Anne have joined forces with a group of friends with sim­i­lar ap­proaches to theirs who help each other out when there’s a lot to do.

“We call our­selves The Crofters of Walia,” laughs Maria. “It’s com­mu­nity liv­ing as it used to be.”

In­clude op­por­tu­ni­ties to rest and re­cu­per­ate in the gar­den. This ta­ble and chairs set, with a back­drop of wil­low screen, pro­vides the ideal spot for a cuppa

Keep it nat­u­ral: a wil­low screen con­trib­utes to an at­trac­tive bar­rier be­tween the flower area and other parts of the gar­den

Re­cy­cle items such as old drainage pipes to use as quirky con­tain­ers for grow­ing root veg, such as car­rots

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