Making the Kitchen Garden, a labour of love

April is the time when, here in England, those of us who are so inclined begin to garden.  Hopefully the frosts are behind us now, or if not, then nearly so, and the soil is beginning to grow warmer.  I have been busy with my cold frame – I have broad beans, squashes (first time ever!), courgettes and leeks nestled warmly inside, whilst next week I plan to begin my outdoor planting with spinach (the perpetual kind), rainbow chard and a few early carrots.

I love working in our kitchen garden, where Rhubarb and Custard our shepherd’s huts sit, though just four short years ago things were very different….

The whole area was completely overgrown and had been used as a dumping ground, there was no fencing and the task seemed completely hopeless.  But luckily, even though this was at the time of the first Covid lockdown, we were able to employ contractors who came with their digger to clear the worst of the mess and begin to level out the land. Once that had been done we spent a lot of time digging trenches, moving blocks and pouring concrete to make two firm bases for Rhubarb and Custard’s wheels….

Before they were lifted in by crane..

Then the area was fenced and, working over the next couple of summers at evenings and weekends, the Engineer was able to bring services to the huts while I worked on the landscaping.  Both huts now have central heating, running hot and cold water and, best of all – real flushing toilets! (personally I am not a fan of the composting variety)…

We added paths (not quite yet in place in the picture above) and patios, positioned raised beds for my vegetables, and at last, my longed-for chickens arrived….

It’s been a busy four years and there were definitely times when I think we both wondered if we’d taken on too much.  But now we’re finished and are very much enjoying being able to share the space with some lovely visitors that have found Rhubarb’s listing on Airbnb.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the before, during, and after photos – I must admit I’d forgotten just how overgrown the space was when we moved into our house. Looking back over the years I do feel quite proud of what we’ve achieved, and now one of my favourite feelings is walking back up the path to the house in the summer months with my basket full of lovely produce I’ve grown myself and fresh eggs from the chickens too – perfect!

Finally, I thought I’d share with you my recent purchases (as well as the first project for the May Magazine which is going to have a bit of a gardening theme).  We have a wildflower corner in the Kitchen Garden, so I’m going to love reading Angie Lewin’s new book, while Sarah Raven is my go-to for lovely quality plants.  Her vegetable book is crammed full of wonderful photography, which for somebody who loves colour (and vegetables) as much as I do, makes it the perfect read for a quiet moment.

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