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A garden dedicated to self-sufficiency
“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