Creating an English vegetable garden in Germany

Do you ever take on home improvement projects which seem like a doddle… but somehow turn into monstrous multi-headed hydras that eat you up and spit you out exhausted and twitching in a corner? Let me show you my beast of a project…

There’s a patch of land next to our house which was nurturing ambitions to become part of the Amazon rainforest. Late last year I decided to do the rapacious logger thing and chop it all down in order to cultivate it. A vegetable garden was my goal. Fresh produce straight from the garden, I thought… Yum!

Of course what looked like a simple thing on paper, turned out to be much more complicated and arduous than I’d ever imagined. For a start the soil in my garden consists of 50% earth and 50% weed seeds. The moment I’d turned over a clod of earth, I found I’d inadvertently planted another few dozen nettles or buttercups. An epic battle started which involved grubbing out roots and sifting soil…   by Autumn the entire plot looked… frankly quite dismal.

Fortunately (from an aesthetic point of  view) for much of the Winter, the entire thing was blanketed in snow.

Unfortunately (from a practical point of view) it was in January that I ordered the new headquarters of my vegetable empire… the greenhouse. Delivered flat packed… it sat desolately out in soggy cardboard boxes under a mound of snow for a month while I waited for the thaw to set in.

Building a greenhouse is a complicated task. One look at the instruction manual (which ran to 70 pages) told me that this was not something I should take on when my best qualification was once making a small garage out of lego.  Luckily I have a delightful,  practical-minded and adept neighbour who came over and systematically worked through the instruction manual page by page until the greenhouse was up… in all it’s glory. Of course I’d love to claim credit for this achievement… but my only role was providing cups of hot soup and bowls of pasta.

The vegetable beds were a different matter. That was all down to me.  Once again I dug over the whole plot (why is it when you’ve dug it once it doesn’t seem to stay dug?). I also sacrificed the compost heap that I’d been building aimlessly for years… and spread that all over.

Meanwhile, inside Veg-plot HQ, I’ve started off a whole lot of seedlings, ready to plant out when the weather will allow it. Plus some like tomatoes and melons which will enjoy the warmth inside the glass for the whole summer.

Now if only the warmer weather would kindly set in….  pretty please….

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12 Comments

Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany

12 responses to “Creating an English vegetable garden in Germany

  1. Wow – I’m impressed! I’ve only got as far as paying my daughter’s boyfriend to dig over the raised beds which have been ignored since August!

  2. I’m impressed too … so neat and tidy, too. Could that be a hint of German influence? 🙂

  3. Hats off to you Cathy, I too am in awe. It’s very impressive and very well organised.

  4. Suzie Warren

    Oooh my – I am sooo jealous, just look at the size of that beastie!!

    Wonderful job, well done you 😀

  5. Mairead

    Wow, it looks fab and so very English. So when it starts to get warm, which shelf will the cats be using to bathe on?

  6. Mairead

    Sooty will find a way in and then her kids will follow!!!!!!

  7. Hi, My son has set up home in Bamberg, Bavaria, and now they have a garden and he wants to grow veg. This is the first time he has had the chance to be a gardener, so he’s a beginner. Does anyone know of any good German gardening books which explain how to grow veg? He can read German OK. Or will our English books be useful there? The climate seems so different to me.
    Thanks, Veronica.

    • I would say the English books will be fine – but he should look at the recommended planting times on the seed packets bought locally. Winters in Bavaria are a bit colder and summers a bit hotter – so he might also try things like aubergines outdoors, which you wouldn’t do in most of the UK.

      I don’t use any German gardening books.

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