Having rearranged the herb garden, I looked at the vast expanse of 6+ foot high, south-west facing fence behind it, and thought "Something should be growing across that. Specifically, a productive climber that produces something tasty...". So last week I planted a dessert grape vine (Lakemont Golden Seedless Dessert, more info here), which I'm hugely excited about. It's supposed to do well in this climate if in a sunny spot, so I have high hopes - and grapes are one of my favourite fruits. I need to get some organic tomato fertiliser and apply regularly this season, and read up on pruning next winter. Grapes grow on last year's vines so nothing will set this year. Lakemont are heavy cropping, self fertile, suitable for outdoor growing, and very sweet, and harvest in London should be late September.
Grape vine hacked back to recommended three buds
Over the other side of the garden, no sign yet of this year's autumn raspberry canes. My thumbs are crossed that they'll spring up soon from the canes I brought in from the allotment last summer. If not, I may have to buy some more next winter.
I've also been thinking about the farthest end of the garden, where the compost heap and shed are, and where there is a little less sun due to the back fence. There were three major issues on my mind:
- The compost heap, while a glorious thing in many ways, is not wildly attractive when viewed from the back door.
- There is a couple of metres at that end of the garden that is currently still paved and underused (occupied, as it was at the time, by paving slab piles).
- Small gardens benefit from having things to break the line of sight up. Dividing the garden up a little can make it seem bigger.
A bush of some sort in front of the compost heap, just at the limit of the shaded area, seemed the perfect solution. And since I wanted something productive, a blackcurrant bush (Ben Sarek Organic, a small-middling bush which fruits mid-to-late season) was the obvious choice. So I've taken up another two paving slabs and planted a tiny stick of a blackcurrant bush there. Hopefully it too will thrive. I'm a little concerned about how much sun it will get; I think it should be just about enough (the tomatoes against the fence there did fine last year) but we shall see.
I always find it difficult to imagine that a twig like this one, barely visible beside its stake, will ever grow into a big fruit bush, but hopefully...
This was previously occupied by a big pile of paving slabs. Clearly I now need to work out what else to do with it. Possibly a bean tipi this year?
One final note: I planted the grape vine in the corner of the oldest of our raised beds, put in 20 months ago when we first moved in. At that point, the soil underneath when we pulled the paving slabs up was heavy, compacted clay, which I shoved a fork into a few times before dumping compost on top. Now, I could dig right down into it with a hand trowel with no trouble, and it's full of worms and soil life. That's just from adding compost and green matter on top, and planting in it. An incredibly pleasing change to see!