How does your garden grow?

I'm on a voyage of discovery in my first garden.
It's mostly about the veggies at the moment but I'm also discovering lots about flowers and other plants - quite often the hard way and always on a very tight budget.
But this blog is not just about my garden, it's about all the things I see and discover in Sussex and beyond and I would love to hear from you too.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Wild gardens and rabbit-proof fences

When we first arrived at the new house, the garden was high with grasses and wild flowers. Consequently, it was a popular spot for butterflies, grasshoppers and rabbits.
While the butterflies are an absolute joy so see, the rabbits are a nuisance, scraping away the lawn and pooping everywhere, and with the first salad crops starting to emerge, I was concerned they might ruin those too.
One of the first tasks was to cut the grass (leaving a corner as a wild garden for the butterflies and insects), which seemed to discourage some of the less persistent bunnies.
But one in particular just wouldn't hop off. Banging on the window (me, not the rabbit) made no difference, and even when I ran outside, it would just hop beyond the back gate and peer back at me.
As unsightly as chicken and rabbit fences are, I had little choice but to protect my veg patch. Luckily I was donated some used chicken wire, which was already attached to fence posts (albeit broken ones) and, with the loan of a sledgehammer and some canny positioning of bamboo canes, I managed to hammer a rickety-looking fence around the vegetable patch.
To make sure the blighters didn't dig their way in, I pinned down the wire with tent pegs and laid old bricks around the edge. The only way those bunnies are getting in now is by pole vaulting.
The end result doesn't look the best, but it will suffice until I can decide on a better solution when I dig my additional vegetable beds.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Garden birds: making new friends

I love little birds - the smaller and noisier, the better.
It's incredible how a little wren, as tiny as it is, can make such a loud sound.
One of the most exciting things about my garden is the birds. The southern perimeter is surrounded with Rhododendron hedge where the birds love to hide.
Already I have seen a young green woodpecker and a kestrel on my lawn - although not at the same time. I suspect the kestrel is on the look out for one of the mice which live at the end of the garden.
Other species I have seen include wrens, great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, song thrushes, blackbirds, sparrows, goldfinches and my very own robin, whose favourite spot is on the gable end of my shed.
In nearby woodland I have also seen jays, long-tailed tits and buzzards.
As my vegetables began to emerge, the great tits in particular could be seen hopping up and down the rows of rocket and mixed leaf salad, picking off the bugs and flies.
To make the garden more bird friendly, I bought a terracotta dish and filled it to make a bird bath and put out a few crumbs but I quickly abandoned putting any food out because it seemed to attract magpies. Instead I have bought a half coconut shell packed with seeds which I will hang from the eaves of the house (just as soon as I can borrow a ladder).