2021, like the year before, was disrupted by COVID-19, lockdowns and supply shortages but not by building work. This was the first growing season since our extension was completed allowing me to start seeing the space I will develop over the coming years.
I have started to segment my front and back gardens to give different areas their own feeling and purpose, much like larger stately holds did in the past. I plan to split my front garden into two areas divided by the main path and the amount of sunlight each site receives. There will be an area with a formal lawn and boards full of flowers in the space which gets the most sunlight. The second part, shaded by a tree, will become increasingly wild with daffodil, crocuses and snowdrops grown in the lawn for spring colour and with tall grass during the summer. The rear garden is being broken into an area to socialise, a productive kitchen garden, a lawn and a woodland garden. Each of these areas will offer me the opportunity to learn a broad spectrum of plant care and garden design over the coming years.
The Kitchen Garden
This year I have focused on developing my productive kitchen garden by extending my growing season using a heated propagation bed and greenhouse, adding chickens to the garden and protecting my vegetables from the chickens and other pests. The veg patch has been fenced in, giving me, with the greenhouse, three sections: the main growing beds, a section for growing in pots and grow bags, and the greenhouse for propagating and plants which like warmer temperatures. This coming year, I want to establish these sections and focus on what I produce to increase yields. I am also considering investing in a grow light to see if I can grow lettuce all year round.
This year, lettuce has been the most successful product from my garden, bringing in a small amount of money and keeping my family supplied for quite a while. If possible, I would like to produce all the lettuce we use all year round.
Our chickens have also been very successful, although quite expensive. We introduced the chickens with the plan to allow them to roam free in the garden, so we picked up a coop with only a small run which would be far too small for the 8 bantams we picked up as chicks. For the first few months, the chickens did not eat my produce, but they developed a taste for lettuce as they grew. Once they started to eat my crop, I decided to put a fence around my veg patch and make a run for them. Most recently, I have had to replace the run I made for them to comply with the law. Laws covering poultry require they are kept separate from wild birds due to a risk of bird flu. This law affects both commercial and backyard poultry, so I had to buy a new run that ensured our chickens were fully netted. All in, the chickens have cost us around £600 to set up, but I expect their cost in 2022 will be much less. While they were more expensive than I had expected, they had supplied us with plenty of eggs even when three became broody, and they continued to provide eggs.
The eight chickens produced around five eggs a day during the warm months but are now down to around two a day.
I had my best year so far on YouTube with just shy of 17,000 views, just over 700 watch hours and almost 100 subscribers. This mainly was achieved off the back of my video on lawn edging. I aimed to produce 12 videos, and I achieved this aim. I enjoyed making YouTube videos, which helped me learn and understand the different subjects I covered throughout the year. Unfortunately, I found work (in the NHS and photography) took up more time later in the year, leaving me tired and less motivated to produce content later.
Filming made working in the garden take longer, and I started to run out of time to keep on top of everything and film.
I prioritised getting things done over filming.
This blog had its best year in 2021, with 367 views from 241 visitors. I posted 22 times, but like YouTube, my posting reduced towards the end of the year for the same reasons. Whether for a blog or for YouTube, content creation is surprisingly challenging and far more time-consuming than it appears. The internet is hungry and noisy, and frequent, consistent uploads seem to be very important! This year I have tried to get out to other gardens to get some ideas and showcase some of the stunning locations around Norfolk. I visited Holkham Hall several times this year and really appreciated its gardens and open spaces.
This year, I aim to be far more productive regarding the garden and creating content. I have scaled back my other work, have every other Friday off from work, and stopped taking on more photography clients. My focus will be the garden and growing a community around learning about gardening.
I plan to release at least 24 videos and 52 blog posts to upgrade and mature my Kitchen Garden and plant up my woodland garden. I plan to try ways to reduce the cost of running my garden by making my own compost, improving yields through better watering and nutrition management, extending the growing year with heat and light, and looking to produce an income to help with running costs. I will properly introduce you to our chickens and how we have been caring for them and bring you into plans to expand my operation to become a commercial enterprise in the next 5 years.
I aim for 2022 to be a year I take my hobby more seriously to see where it could take me and connect with like-minded people from across the world to share a love for gardening and all the good stuff that comes from it.
Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best in 2022!!