To start with we needed a plot. Talk about luck, an east facing 16m2 piece of waste ground next to the kitchen with a water tap and lighting (invaluable for night time picking), absolutely perfect. This was going to be so easy. I considered constructing a raised bed but given the time constraint shelved the idea although I would recommend doing so to provide a deep well fertilized growing area and to make the later care and harvesting of the growing herbs easier.
Over the first cup of tea of the day I decided on a simple geometric design with a central shade tree, to be surrounded by annuals, with separate areas for each of the perennial herbs. A simple underground irrigation system would allow each herb to receive exactly the right amount of moisture they would need.
First off I needed to have a way of delimiting the various herbs we would be planting. A quick trip to the local builder’s yard produced 18 concrete edging strips 60cm in length.
Next, to prepare the ground, I marked off a square with sides of four times the length of the strips (4 * 60cm = 240cm), dug it over and incorporated a few shovels full of fine gravel to aid drainage, a 25 kilo bag of compost to boost the organic content of the soil and five litres of diluted liquid chicken manure fertilizer. All this because once the garden was in place it would be impossible to do any further deep digging to enrich the soil without completely dismantling the structure.
Planting a stake in the middle of this area, with a stick attached by a 60cm length of string I marked out and dug a circular trench about 5cm deep, this would not only house the primary irrigation tube but also act as a guide for the main edge of the herb garden. A second circle at 30cm will host the inner watering system.
Now, using my outer circle and some basic school geometry, I could place the first six edging strips around the circle to form a hexagon, then finally the remaining 12 strips to make triangles on the outside edge of this hexagon.
With the basic shape of my herb garden now in place all that was needed before planting was to add two adjustable drippers into the tube exposed in each of the triangles and some to the tubing of the inner circle.
At this point I took a well earned 15 minute break but unfortunately, due to space limitations, you are going to have to wait until next month to see how, and with what, I planted up the garden once I’d finished my tea and biscuits. At least this will give you a good four weeks to get out into the garden to prepare your own plot!