Happy Hens. | Caroline Fuller


Well it’s that time of year again when I have a million garden related things buzzing around in my mind, not least what shall I plant/sow, when and with what?

The chickens have been in to help clear a few bugs and I have been preparing my tomato beds already. They are now settling waiting for planting time. I changed them this year and instead of two raised rows with a gully between where I grew squashes, I now just have one wider row. The middle has been filled in with a mix of our own compost, organic matter in the form of cut broad bean stalks, hay which has rotted from last years pathways, manure and a covering of soil. This remains a no dig bed, just wider and I will once again plant tomatoes here, just more of them!

The two beds last year

In another bed I planted a green manure/cover crop of broad beans. I have already cut many of them and the roots will be rotting away in the ground to provide nitrogen; bacteria in the soil (rhizobia) form nodules on the roots of the plants that fix nitrogen into the soil that the plant can easily absorb it.

Broad Beans ready for cutting

By cutting the plant before it flowers and thus uses the stores, future plantings can access the nitrogen and benefit from a healthy leaf growth. Once they flower and start to produce beans, the nitrogen content is used and converted so your future plantings don’t get the benefit, other than adding some organic matter to the ground...also a good thing! In this bed I will be planting nitrogen loving leafy greens, beetroot and some sprouting broccoli. Below I have included a table of which are some of the best things to be sown now, how long they should take to germinate and then to crop. I’m a great believer in interplanting which is where crops can benefit each other and so I have included a few beneficial groupings and plants which behave as natural insect repellants.

I try to keep things simple in the garden and our beds are set up as no dig beds, meaning we only add new compost and mulch to the top layers. This does two things, saves back breaking digging and protects the soil layers. Many of the healthy chains of bacteria in soil are slow growing and every time we dig it, we break the chains. Digging can also damage the worms essential for healthy soil and of course every time we dig soil, we bring fresh weed seeds to the top which germinate at the speed of light and make a mockery of our efforts to clear the ground! I have found as time progresses with these no dig beds the weeds that do germinate in there are easier to pull out and much less prolific.

one of last years makeshift beds

It sounds quite a lazy way of gardening, but it does seem to work for most things. We do still however grow potatoes the traditional way. If you read my blog you will see this week that not everything goes well in the garden and we are always having to keep one eye on the weather to make sure our gardens thrive. Frost has been my enemy forthe first time this year and it does look like there has been a murder or two going on! Mother nature and I have fallen out for now but I am sure I shall forgive and look to my own shortcomings before long...do not ignore the threat of frost even in Majorca is a lesson learned this week. Cover the seedlings or bring them in! This week I was lucky enough to be able to get young gardener Malcolm to answer a few garden questions and it is lovely to know a new generation of gardeners are learning about what we eat!

Interview with young gardener Malcolm Orts-Fraser

Malcolm Orts-Fraser

Name: Malcolm Orts- Fraser
Age: 8
Family: I have two brothers Felix and Liam
Other interests/hobbies outside of gardening: I like bird watching, playing with my friends, sports. Sometimes I like to fish and go to the beach. I like maths and pasta too!
Most recent horticultural purchase: I bought a venus flytrap and it’s very difficult to look after it! But I’m doing it and it’s still alive!

Malcolm Orts-Fraser

What sort of garden do you have, vegetable, flowers or a mix?
It’s a mixture of flowers and vegetables

Tell me what your favourite plant to grow is.
My favourite plant is watermelon

What is your favourite job in the garden?
-My favourite job is planting.

Can you tell me why it is important to have good soil for your plants?
Good soil gives the plant a better chance to grow.

Do you have any tips to start a garden?
My top tips are:
1. Start with a small garden
2. Try to check your garden every day
3. Buy some tools

Do you need any special tools?
Yes! I think every gardener should have a shovel, a rake, a hoe, some clippers, a wheelbarrow, a hose and shears with extensions for higher up parts of the garden.

What could a new gardener try to grow first?
First I would buy a plant and then learn to take care of it and when you feel confident then you can grow it from a seed.

Thank you Malcolm, I hope you have a great gardening year and I look forward to some more pictures!