As a relative newby to gardening, each year I set myself the task of trying at least one new thing in it. As my garden is currently loving the rain, growing like crazy and going wild, I have decided to cultivate a wild garden this year.
In the past I have introduce wattling, bending hazel sticks around posts to create a lovely fencing border. Each year we add more fencing in this format. No odd branches of prunings go to waste. They now have a home fencing in a raised bed or creating a barrier to try and stop our animals heading into next door’s garden.
Hugelkultur came next, where you create raised beds by first digging down and then filling the base with rotting wood, then topping with dirt. It’s another great way to get rid of garden waste that also benefits the raised bed. We planted potatoes in the bed and they grew so quickly and large, we deemed it a success. Two more raised beds were converted over this year to hugelkultur, with plans to eventually convert all of our planting beds.
A bean trellis tunnel made from old trampoline poles and more hazel sticks worked out wonderfully. It resides permanently in the duck enclosure, thus extending our veg garden. The duck pond water now never goes to waste as it waters the root area of plants here. And a bonus is the shade it creates come summer. We often find the ducks cooling themselves, sat in the shaded tunnel.
This year we are changing over to tomatoes instead of beans in an attempt at rotation. And we are making two more trellis tunnels for this year’s crop of climbing beans. In a pinch last year when we discovered we had planted climbing beans by accident, instead of dwarf beans, we made teepees out of left over and fallen branches. A great re-use. And then the following year, as they have dried out and become too brittle to use again, they become the base for hugelkultur.
Permaculture style gardening is now part of what we do since last year, along with no dig gardening. We add to the soil with compost and more soil rather than dig up and turn. Supposedly it means less, weeds, though we are not really seeing this. But it certainly makes life easier in spring.
Lots of rain this year has meant that everything is growing, growing, growing! Including the weeds. And our garden has become very overgrown. I am loving our wild garden. It is full of colour, greenery and especially density. I only weed out a few particular plants.
We have never been anti-weed, more a weed is a plant in the wrong place. There are a few ‘plants’ we really keep an eye out. Bindweed or Morning Glory is our main one as it likes to climb up and twine itself around other plants. Killing them eventually. We pull out bindweed whenever we see it, but if it is climbing something like the duck enclosure fencing where it will create shade within come the height of summer, we leave it alone.
Wild Sweet Pea or vetch is one I particularly like to let grow. I am in love with its little flowers. It is a true wild garden flower as it crops up in all sorts of places once you let it thrive. So it does need some management. We like to be sure to train it upward, otherwise it will tend to travel outward and almost take over other plants.
By allowing ‘natural’ plants to find their niche we have found that those we have planted are actually thriving better. Less exposed soil has meant more moisture retained, which all the plants are loving.
In managing our wild garden, we only pull out, break off or dead head, what has died or is trying to overwhelm other plants. Other than that, it is definitely a live and let live mentality. I gather some are calling this an ‘ungardening’ way of gardening.
This has turned out to be brilliant on many levels. The garden looks lush and healthy, with beautiful swathes of green and colour. Bees, butterflies and other animals are just loving it, and we are immersed in their sounds when we work or sit in it. We have been wonderfully surprised by some plants showing up. We now have a whole mound of red poppies by our patio, simply because we left that area alone. And bonus, having a wild garden has given us more time to do other things.
Of course, it is a chicken and egg scenario. Which came first the wild garden giving us more time, or not having enough time so the wild garden came into being?