the zipcar garden continues…

So the sun has finally made its 2013 debut and we here at the Zipcar Garden couldn’t be more pleased. And neither could our feline curator & head of garden security, Ted.

Building the Beds:

After a substantial delay thanks to the endless rain and drizzle (or what we now refer to as “Spring”), we were finally able to jump in our Zipvan, pick up our railway sleepers and get started.

Work begins, overseen by Ted.

Each sleeper is about 2m long; we purchased 12 – eight for the sides, and four to be cut in two for each end. At that point we reached for our normal, everyday chainsaw (ok, admittedly we had to borrow that one, we’re not tree surgeons or fictional Texas-based lunatics), and set about cutting our end sections. Once we had everything ready, it was just a case of trying some different layouts – taking into account the movement of the sun and any consequent shady spots:

Sleeper chainsaw massacre

'Bedding in':

On Ted’s advice and our own investigations, we opted for a perpendicular layout running lengthways north-south. This was based on the theory that with the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, no plants would therefore block sunlight to any others in the beds as the sun moves across the sky (It’s probably also worth pointing out that we do realise that the sun doesn’t technically do anything of the sort, rather we move around it, but for simplicity we’re pretending the sun moves. Perhaps it has its own astral Zipcar).

No sooner were the beds properly dug-in and braced, we emptied our compost bins into the base (compost we prepared earlier), soaked them and then topped them off with a vast amount of earth:

Beds with home-made compost, then topped up with earth (and more compost)


And finally to the fun part, (well, if you consider fun to be getting covered in dirt) we’ve planted our first set of crops. We started with:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Red peppers
  • Broccoli (regular and purple)
  • Peas
  • Dwarf Beans
  • Courgettes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberries (both summer & autumn fruiting)
  • Sweetpeas

We also potted up some lavender and rosemary and we plan on constructing a small herb garden. The more eagle-eyed amongst you may also notice that the onions and peas have not yet been separated from each other. This was due to the Zipcar Gardener’s right hand not paying attention to what the left hand was doing (in the left bed, they should be in rows across the width, not in the middle in a bunch). It has since been rectified, though we believe the parlance is “D’oh”.

Our beds with some rather ambitious cane-construction

Next time:

If the sun stays out for more than a few days and our peas, beans and sweetpeas start to climb the questionable cane structure, we'll have to consider adding a wire framework around the pyramid. This will hold the weight of any peas or beans, but also encourage them to climb. And if we're very lucky we'll see the sweetpeas climb up and over the frame to meet in the middle.

We'll also have updated pictures of our beds, an update on how they're getting on and if his temperament permits, further photos of our small, hairy garden curator Ted.

peppers, raspberries, sweetpeas and our bird feeder (in an apple tree)

Over to you:

That’s the initial hard graft done, however we still have a little room for more. We asked Ted for his thoughts: “chase the bee, chase the bee, pounce” which we duly ignored as we felt it wasn’t relevant, but we are tempted by blueberries. Does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts on growing blueberries, or indeed any other horticultural wisdom that you’d like to share with us? The Zipcar Gardener could really do with some tips, so feel free to share yours with us below – you can use Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo and more to log in and comment.

Gardener's Zipstertime

Previous Zipcar Garden Posts:


Granny’s Tip:           

You drink a lot of coffee don’t you? Well instead of putting the grounds in the bin or down the sink, pop them onto your veg patch. They’re a great way to add nitrogen to the soil and should give your veg a good boost.”

We do drink a lot of coffee, so we'll be trying this out but if in doubt click here to read about how the RHS's Nigel Slater uses coffee grounds.