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So clueless! Please advise!

(21 Posts)
smallmole Mon 13-Oct-14 10:35:44

We've been on the waiting list for an allotment for four years now and it's just occurred to me (very slow on the uptake, I know) that we should use our front garden instead! It seems perfect - it's smaller than an allotment so it's a good way to start off and it's a good way of testing our commitment - if we can't be bothered to go into the garden then there's no way we'd walk the ten minutes to the allotment every night. This all seems to add up to me and I'm incredibly excited. Three stumbling blocks though. 1 - My husband isn't keen on the idea - he thinks that it'll be messy and look ugly (unlike our tatty lawn!). 2 - we live on a main road with lots of traffic (I'm thinking fumes and stuff). 3 - I haven't the foggiest where to begin. Can some of you experienced growers offer any advice before I start digging the lawn up and making huge mistakes? I'd be grateful for any pointers!

CuttedUpPear Mon 13-Oct-14 10:42:24

Unless you are desperate to start planting winter cabbage now, pop some plastic, landscaping fabric or carpet (not the rubber backed sort though) over the area you want to make into veg beds. This will kill of the grass and make the area easier to dig.

Start collecting well rotted farmyard manure and when all the grass is dead (a few months time) spread this over the bed. At this point you could edge the beds to make raised beds. You'll need to add some topsoil if this is what you want to do.

If you want to plant root veg, leave part of the bed un-manured as they don't like it.

Buy yourself a good strong stainless steel garden fork. The powder coated ones (often green in colour) aren't strong enough for proper work. With a good fork, you won't need a spade, thereby saving your back.

Get yourself some seed catalogues and start planning!

Pootles2010 Mon 13-Oct-14 10:46:01

Sorry I agree with your dh - I thought the same about our front garden, its south facing, DS can't play on it anyway, etc.

But truthfully, I think it will just end up being a mess. Any veg plot takes quite a lot of work, making it 'pretty' will take way more work, and money too. It might look 'nice' at certain points in the summer, but it'll just look depresssing in the winter.

smallmole Mon 13-Oct-14 20:16:07

Thank you both for your help. I see what you're saying Pootles, but I really want to try so I think I'll just use a small section and I can easily just turf it back over if I don't stick at it or can't handle the look of it.
Cutted up Pear - thank you for all of that. I've dug some old cardboard out of the loft this afternoon to put down and I am thinking of roots so there's not much else to do! I've ordered a seed catalogue - it's all so bewildering and exciting!

Bowlersarm Mon 13-Oct-14 20:33:45

I'm with your DH too. Why don't you start off growing things in pots and troughs, until you decide whether you like it enough to make an allotment of your front garden.

funnyperson Mon 13-Oct-14 21:53:25

james wong does a good website and somewhere on it is something about veg which thrive near roads

Pootles2010 Tue 14-Oct-14 09:33:01

One thing I was thinking of adding to my front garden (and still might, if i ever get round to it) is a small raised bed?

I had an eye on an old wooden sand pit - its hexagonal, so quite nice looking, you could put something like that in the middle, try some veg in it, and if you don't like it, put flowers in it? Or would that be a bit nutso?

honeysucklejasmine Tue 14-Oct-14 09:44:08

Bowlersam I'd like to start growing veg in pots on a spare bit of garden. Are there any things that cope well in such a set up? DH thinks I'll lose interest after a while so we agreed pots to start. hmm

Bowlersarm Tue 14-Oct-14 10:26:15

Pretty much anything sort of normal I think honey. Potatoes work well, but needs to be a deep container. Tomatoes, courgettes, chillies, even things like carrots. Herbs look very pretty in pots.

honeysucklejasmine Tue 14-Oct-14 10:36:03

Thank you! I need to get myself some seeds and a planting calendar.

Bowlersarm Tue 14-Oct-14 11:08:01

I'm a bit of a novice still really. I've been growing vegetables for about four or five years, slowly increasing what I grow and gaining some knowledge along the way.

I don't think the OP should necessarily not grow vegetables in the front garden if she becomes a passionate gardener. But I think a veg plot can look unsightly if it's not looked after well and could be a potential eyesore for the neighbours. So I think she should start small (pots) and progress if it becomes her thing.

A raised bed could look nice pootles. It's easier to keep on top of weeds for one thing.

smallmole Tue 14-Oct-14 21:14:10

Ah, I should have been a bit clearer - I've already been growing potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs in pots and on windowsills - I feel really ready to move on to something bigger but I'm intimidated by digging big holes in the lawn! I'll definitely look up the James Wong info and I love the idea about the sand pit!

Thank you for your help, everyone!

Blackpuddingbertha Tue 14-Oct-14 21:45:24

Definitely do it. Although it may not look great through winter there are things you can grow that over-winter well and will therefore keep patches of green. You could also grow green manures in empty beds and dig them in prior to replanting the bed in the Spring. And then in the summer months you can create a veg plot that also looks fabulous. I grow runner beans over an arch and there are loads of climbing veg that are also quite ornamental. You'll make more of the space by growing upwards. I've seen veg plots in front gardens which are lovely. Also, you could line the path with herbs that will smell nice as you go in and out.

smallmole Tue 14-Oct-14 21:50:43

Lovely idea - i really want a herb lined walk-way now!

enriquetheringbearinglizard Tue 14-Oct-14 21:53:21

Cover the lawn with the weed suppressing sheets and build raised beds, that's a no brainer as you can also plan them to look aesthetically pleasing too. I'd do a kind of Elizabethan parterre design.

Bowlersarm Tue 14-Oct-14 22:15:44

Not quite so clueless then OP? Strange thread title.

smallmole Tue 14-Oct-14 22:47:28

I am clueless about allotments and growing anything other than two or three things at a time. I'm doing my research though!

funnyperson Tue 14-Oct-14 22:52:36

If you grow from seed smallmole its nice to use organic seeds and not gmo seeds so that if your veg self seed its all non gm.
i looked p growing veg in front gardens near roads and one helpful post mentioned it's nice to have a barrier between your veg and the road, like privet or box.

agoodbook Tue 14-Oct-14 22:53:47

I have an allotment, and its hard work, but you can use varieties that are pretty- I grew purple french beans this year up a wigwam, and they are beautiful smile Also- a traditional cottage garden always has veg in amongst the flowers - worth a thought!

Stopanuary Thu 16-Oct-14 13:29:45

I changed my front garden from lawn and shrubs to a soft fruit area... via a season of potatoes!

Only quite a small area but it's worked brilliantly... raspberries, all types of currants, blueberries (in pots), strawberries and blackberries.

chaoticgardener Sun 02-Nov-14 23:25:41

Yup was clueless too about allotments - but more than a year on I'm finally getting there....

<- Here's my first cabbage.

Just starting to blog on all my failures now, which is therapeutic in itself.
amyfwillis.com/

Some of my best f*ck ups so far include:

1) Set fire to my plot (oops) amyfwillis.com/2014/11/02/i-had-a-fire-and-set-my-allotment-alight/

2) My shed blew down amyfwillis.com/2013/07/24/rip-my-shed-old-girl-succumbs-to-bout-of-wind/

3) Obliterated my cabbages :-( amyfwillis.com/2014/10/27/time-for-a-game-of-spot-the-cabbages/

4) No clue on using a strimmer (seriously embarrassing) amyfwillis.com/2013/07/09/step-one-strimming-the-beast/

@smallmole I've found actually if you keep persisting things tend to work out no matter how bad a gardener you are - so keep pounding the ground.

Here she was when i first started: amyfwillis.com/2013/07/02/welcome-to-my-plot-full-of-weeds-and-general-crap/

And she's starting to look much better now.

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