Now that I've got the garden I've been planning for for ages it's almost hard to know where to start!
The garden is very much a blank canvas so although there are plenty of weeds to sort out the general lack of flower beds meant that there was very little that had to be done straight away. One exception to that was the area that I quickly identified as a possibility for my first veg plot.
I didn't need the gardening books to tell me that the first thing I needed to do here was clear the site of all the weeds and rubble. The previous owner had kindly left behind some bags of compost (plus a half full compost bin – quality of contents as yet unknown) so I'm assuming that at some point before planting anything I'll be digging it in to the site.
The summer weather (i.e. rain!) curtailed my first attempts, but luckily the sun was shining the next day to allow me to complete the work.
The soil actually looks quite good quality and there were certainly plenty of worms that I unearthed during my digging.
Mr C and I are very much novices when it comes to gardening so, in the absence of the internet these last two weeks, we've been making the most of the various books that we've either been kindly given, or picked up from charity shops.
I have two particular favourites at the moment. The first was a very kind gift from Mrs Nesbitt who I have come to know through the New House Farm forums: Gardeners' World Book of Gardening for Beginners. This lovely little book really does start with the basics, and unlike most other gardening books is a convenient size to be able to read it in bed without doing myself (or Mr C) any injury! My second gardening favourite read is Carol Klein's Grow Your Own Veg. I'm determined to make a go at being as self-sufficient as time allows and being a great fan of Carol on TV I love the way that this book is written in a similar chatty style.
One thing that all the books agree on is understanding what your soil is like. Although it all looks pretty good to me, I'm no expert and hence off I went to buy a small soil testing kit so that I could understand what the pH level is to allow me to plan what to grow.
The kit wasn't too expensive (about £4.99 for multiple uses) and it was incredibly easy to use.
Quite simply soil is mixed with the powder contents of a capsule in the kit, water added, contents shaken up, and once everything has settled simply read off the scale on the container.
Now, if my eye sight is telling the truth, and the water isn't confusing the result, it looks to me like we've got neutral soil here. My initial response was to think that that was a good thing, but a bit more reading suggests that it may not be so good as it seems that some veg prefers slightly acidic soil. Hmmm – off to read some more me thinks…
Before I turn into a complete gardening bore – honestly I will still post about other things – I've started a list of gardening books that I'm using over in the right hand side bar. I'm sure that over time I'll be writing about quite a few of them.