A couple of weekends ago, we cut all the spent pea plants to the ground (leaving their nitrogen-fixing roots to continue to enrich the ground), weeded the top bed, and dug up all the onions.
Pea pods were saved for seed and the pea stalks cut up and added to the compost, while the onions were laid out in the sun ( and wind, and rain…) to dry. Rather a fine haul of onions this year – these grown from sets are much better than our meagre harvest from seed last year.
The leaves of the onions were just beginning to bend over, indicating their ripeness, although the majority were still mostly green and there was still a good few weeks’ growth left in some. Our main purpose in this slightly early harvest, however, was to reclaim the space; although not (yet) for more crops.
During our building and landscaping we have amassed various heaps of topsoil, mostly reclaimed from areas that have now been paved. The largest of these has become something of an obstacle to progress in the garden, standing where the north border should swell out from the fence towards the lawn, gradually accruing a coarse green coat of annual weeds.
Not to mention appearing to attract ladders, pipes and various other bits and pieces that are still waiting to be put away or disposed of.
We have decided to use this good topsoil to raise the level of the vegetable garden, as we have a scant spade-depth of soil on top of the pin rock of the hill below. In the ornamental garden this lack of depth is rarely a problem, but every inch counts when growing edibles. Accordingly we have been starting to combine the various heaps around the garden, and finally moving them barrow-load by barrow-load down to the vegetable beds as we clear them of crops, ready to spread once the beds are empty.
The first heap, located in place of the garlic which we harvested last month, has been joined by a neighbouring heap where the peas were growing. In danger of avalanche, the onions were then hastily reconvened on the bench in the greenhouse this weekend, allowing the heap to expand further. An oppportunistic gap between squashes and fennel has become yet another hill, with the arms of the squash relocated to wander up and over this peak.
The garden is starting to look as though we have been besieged by giant moles! All in a good cause, however, and this means that we are starting to free up the remaining space in the ornamental garden, which is perhaps the most exciting part of all.