I live on the borders of Wales and England up on a hilltop overlooking wonderful countryside. It is a small house and small garden. This is the second year of growing here and my perennial vegetable polyculture and other beds with vegetables growing in flower beds and in the hedge have done well so far this year. My aim is to grow as much as I can in every diverse corner and crevice of the garden. It will take some time to work out and get fully established.
My book 'Edible Perennial Gardening' was published this year by Permanent Publications and is based on the experience of growing perennial vegetables in my previous garden. This new(ish) garden is based on what I grew and learned there with adaptations as I continue to learn.
I have a variety of perennial roots, onions and green vegetables. During the process of writing the book I experimented with every perennial vegetable I could find and have now settled on quite a wide selection that suit my growing conditions. What types do you grow?
Hi Anni, great seeing you're on permies.com, I'm a great book, great work you did. I've read it, but go back to reading chapters or plant specifics when I want to refresh my knowledge on certain perennials. I keep it close to Martin Crawfords book on perennial vegetables they go together. I'll eventually sometimes ask you something when I'll have specific questions
Hi Anni - you say that you are on a hill - how high up are you and are you finding this different from your previous garden. I'm asking because I'm 750 ft up on a Scottish hillside which is very exposed and there are quite a few things I can't get to grow up here.
Our little place on the hill is at 1,000 feet, more or less on the contour line. It faces south and has the sun pretty much from morning to night. It also benefits from a hedge that provides wind protection and was planted by the previous owners who had a plant nursery here some years ago. That was all in greenhouses / polytunnels and pots so the ground is not prepared in any way.
So, despite being high and potentially exposed, I think that this site is not too bad. It is certainly colder, windier and wetter than anywhere in the immediate vicinity that is downhill and that is most places as the River Severn and one of its tributaries run around the hill we are on.
I have been growing berry and shrub bushes, perennial vegetables including yacon, oca, mashua, earth nut pea, dahlia, skirret, scorzonera, perennial kales, leaf beet, various onions such as tree onion, Welsh onion, shallots. Also some annuals carrots, parsnips, daikon radish, beans (runner, french, field), peas, herbs - annual and perennial, flowers like calendula, love in a mist, poppies of different types.
I can't think of anything I have tried so far that did not grow, but there will be things I'm sure. Ooh yes, I lost the caucasian spinach and one of the honeyberries and some flowering honeysuckle, but perhaps just because I didn't look after them.
The soil is clay with lots of stones and needs a lot of organic material. I only began the garden in spring of 2013.
I have planted Welsh heritage fruittrees - trwyn mochyn apple, Denbigh plum, damson Abergwyngregyn and cariad Cherry, plus Sunset apple which likes Shropshire apparently (we are one mile from the border).
So far it has been a veritable jungle of growth, but we had a mild winter last year and a warm sunny (but wet) summer, so there could be lots more testing times to come.
I haven't got much growing yet as it has been a long slow process of taming a wilderness with an area that had been uninhabited for 50 years. I have got a few areas in cultivation now and berries are doing well and annual vegetables. I am hoping to try some perennial veg but it regularly gets down to -14C in the winter and has been as low as -20C so I am wary of trying stuff out until I have got some form of shelter in place. there are no hedges and windbreak fabric would probably end up in the Cairngorms so I am slowly planting hedges and hoping to put up some woven willow fencing in a small area around the house to see if that will survive. I really want to plant some apples but when I went to a local apple day at a National Trust property they thought I was bonkers and that nothing would survive. Where did you get your apples from?
I have had a look for some Scottish suppliers as I remember seeing someone who specialised in apples for the Scottish climate some time ago. I don't think this is the one I saw then, but it may be worth you checking out.
It sounds like slow and steady is the best way with your challenging landscape and climate. Being that much further north than me will mean your weather is much more ferocious than anything I have to contend with.
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