my kitchen garden, wattle fencing and a happy dog

by Sharon Santoni

 

Many people have written to me about the garden videos I’ve been showing on Instagram – thank you !    A lot of questions about increasing the size of the kitchen garden, and in particular about the wattle fencing.

So …. I thought you’d like to know more !

First of all, as you may know, for the past few years we have used the no-dig method in the garden.   My mentor in this is the British gardener Charles Dowding, whose YouTube videos I highly recommend.    If we weren’t on the no-dig method, with its incredible time saving I would never have been brave enough to more than double our vegetable garden.     The no-dig means that we never have to dig DUH!, and that in itself is a huge time saver, but more importantly because the soil is never disturbed we get hardly any weeds at all.   The result is a happy kitchen garden and a happy me, because I free up so much time for other stuff.

The only down side this year has been the moles.  Oh my goodness, the moles.    They are not in the slightest bit interested in eating my vegetables, but they have dug an underground circuit that makes the Paris metro system look like a joke.  When they dig the tunnels, if they encounter the root of a vegetable, they simply chew their way through it.    Their presence has led to a number of dead plants, but (always looking for the silver lining here) a very happy fox terrier,  aka Ghetto, who has decided to make it his mission to track and eliminate the moles!

dod digging in garden

Making the wattle fencing was deceptively simple.   A few years ago I had created the first beds using the same system, but with hazelnut branches.  Hazelnut was not the best idea, as it doesn’t last more than three years, and after that becomes very brittle and rots.

This time I bought a huge quantity of chestnut branches, each three metres or nine foot long.   Once the beds were measured and outlined (the longest part to do) it only took us a few hours to drive in the vertical stakes (we spaced them every 60cm), then weave the branches in and out, until we reached the right height.  This is a simple job and quick to do.  It can be handled by one person, but it’s a tad quicker and more fun working two people at the same time.

Once the fencing was completed we filled the beds with ‘lasagne compost’, ie alternating layers of grass cuttings, compost, dried leaves, manure, compost etc.   We then walked away and forgot about the beds through the winter and up to the spring when it was time to start planting.

During the spring, as the rest of the garden was waking up, and begining to bloom, the vegetable garden got off to a good start.  In the new part of the potager I put down sand paths, because it is tricky getting a lawn mower between the beds without damaging the fencing.

On the whole the months of May and June were looking pretty good.  We are trying to limit watering to a minimum, and again the no dig method helps with that because the enriched soil retains the moisture so much better.  In the vegetable garden I have also planted flowers as cutting flowers and simply to make it look pretty.

If you want to see more images and video, check out my story on Instagram today.

Voila, a round up of what’s going on in my garden today.  I hope that wherever you are, that your garden is bringing you joy too.  Stay safe and take care.

31 comments

Donna Faust June 26, 2020 - 7:41 pm

Beautiful garden. Love the fencing.

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Dianne June 26, 2020 - 8:14 pm

LOVE that waddle fencing, Sharon. Would love to ramble through your garden–beautiful!! Thanks for sharing.

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Lynne B. June 27, 2020 - 12:54 am

Looks very beautiful. I use the no dig method too.
My problem is wombats here in Australia, they are like mini bulldozers. I just keep repairing the fences and hope they will find something tasty elsewhere.

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Sharon Santoni June 27, 2020 - 1:29 pm

Oh my goodness, wombats! I feel such a wimp with my tiny moles!!
x

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Bonnie wood June 26, 2020 - 8:29 pm

Beautiful garden. mine is completely out of control, but blooming!!! thank you Sharon for sharing. I have your most recent magazine, and love your home and gardens. Thanks so much, stay safe and take care.

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Sharon Santoni June 27, 2020 - 1:30 pm

Thank you Bonnie …. personally I love an ‘out of control ‘ garden 🙂

x

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Barbara Hall June 26, 2020 - 8:30 pm

Love your beautiful flower garden, and the fencing too! I may do a version of that here in Mediterranean-style arid northern California. I will research the best branches to attain and use for my local area. So I now have a fall project!

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Sharon Santoni June 27, 2020 - 1:30 pm

sounds like a great plan, have fun!

x

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Lucy Gallman June 29, 2020 - 6:10 pm

Love the fencing. I have been using lasagna method for the last couple of years. We also have a horse supplying us with manure(aged) for soil amendment. I got about 30# of potatoes.

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Sandra T. July 8, 2020 - 6:33 am

I live in NorCal too! Let us know what you find to use for fencing. I’d love chestnut, but that is quite cost prohibitive in the US.

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Patrice June 26, 2020 - 8:31 pm

I would love to know where you purchased the 9 ft chestnut branches.

Please let me know as I am having a difficult time finding them in the United States

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Kim DeBastos June 26, 2020 - 8:36 pm

Gorgeous! Love the Waddle fencing..so natural AND your pups are precious.

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Kameela June 26, 2020 - 9:43 pm

Looks great. I quite like weeding but I was not well recently and the weeds went a bit mad. I am now planning a no dig garden. I have lots of hazel which I use for plant supports but are you happy to divulge your source of the chestnut. I think you said that you got them on line. We also gave a problem with the moles but our cat likes to hunt them out. Keeps her busy

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Sharon Santoni June 27, 2020 - 8:34 pm

I can understand the therapeutic side to weeding, but unfortunately we have bindweed and ground elder here, and it’s extremely frustrating to know that hours of weeding will be quickly undone by these fast growers 🙁

x
Sharon

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Lee Oleary June 27, 2020 - 1:49 am

That rose bush is incredible is it a climbing rose.What are you feeding it Sharon.I have a yellow climbing rose it has lots of growth but gave me only one flower last year .Please let me know your secret .

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Sharon Santoni June 27, 2020 - 8:36 pm

Thank you Lee, it is a white rambler from David Austen that was planted nearly 20 years ago ! We mulch all the roses with a compost/manure mix in the winter and again in the spring.

Hope that helps

Sharon
x

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Lorrie June 27, 2020 - 5:40 am

How great that wattle fencing looks. I like the structure it adds to the garden beds. Here I have raised beds with cedar boards and there is very little digging, but the weeds still come. Too bad about the moles. The bunnies are moving into our neighbourhood and love to eat my seedlings. I’ve been protecting them with netting, but we are thinking about a more permanent and long lasting solution using wire. Your climbing rose is stunning!

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Chrysanthemum June 27, 2020 - 3:20 pm

I’ve enjoyed the lasagna gardening method years ago to make my flower gardens and they were perfect, no dig is great. The soil in this area now, is full of earth worm and very healthy. Last year, I changed one of the flower beds transfer back to grass, since I don’t want to spend as much time gardening…I quilt more now…
But, I do have plenty of other gardens to enjoy playing in… since we are spending all our time at home, due to Covid-limited travel, I’ve added more plants to my kitchen garden and enjoy all the fresh herbs for my cooking!
Love your photos…

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Ceew June 27, 2020 - 5:02 pm

No words…so peaceful looking…love your yard.

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Thistlekeeping - Thistlewood Farm June 27, 2020 - 5:27 pm

[…] This kitchen garden […]

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Marilyn June 27, 2020 - 7:35 pm

It must be a year for the voles — Here in Ohio, USA, my mother’s yard is crisscrossed with the tunnels. I like the wattle fencing and was considering for a future raised bed project — good to know about choosing the “wattle” with longevity as part of the consideration.

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PJ June 27, 2020 - 8:21 pm

For your sand pathways, did you put landscaping fabric beneath. If not, what do you do to keep the grass and weeds from popping through? Thank you!

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Sharon Santoni June 27, 2020 - 8:38 pm

Hi PJ

I thought about the landscaping fabric for a long time . everyone told me to do it, but I really didn’t want to, so in the end went without. We lifted about four inches of grass and soil, I treated a couple of times with vinegar and then we simply brought in the sand

x

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Silvia Bednárovič Králová July 11, 2020 - 8:03 pm

View to your beautiful home, wonderful garden, flowers…. refreshes my life so much. I have a picture of your house+garden as a theme on my PC screen for years. Sping one in the spring time, summer one on the summer time, etc. I dream of that house and garden for years!

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CLL June 27, 2020 - 9:13 pm

Just wow!! I have no garden ambitions of my own but even your photos make me envious. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me today.

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Emm June 28, 2020 - 2:47 am

As soon as you said “moles’ i thought of “Wind in the Willows”. Glad to see that Ghetto and Gibson are taking care of things.
What was the compost you used in establishing the new beds — did you buy something or make your own?

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Katherine Ferruzzi June 28, 2020 - 6:17 pm

Thank you, I enjoyed your Instagram pictures, very inspiring. This is the first time I’ve visited your website. I’m glad to hear you follow Charles Dowding, I definitely think of him as a mentor and of course my husband who works to help farmers learn no till and sustainable farming techniques. I have been gardening for 7 years using no till for the purpose of less work and a more sustainable environment. I’m in sympathy with you about the moles. I personally have a holistic approach, I just think of them as a part of the garden and plant enough for them and myself because I don’t know what else to do and refuse to be stressed by those little guys. Happy gardening!

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Colleen June 28, 2020 - 10:26 pm

It’s so pretty ! I love your dogs ! We are in about our 5th year with raised beds as well. It’s such an enjoyable past-time. Hello from Newfoundland.

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tracy brown July 8, 2020 - 7:30 pm

Aaaaahhhh- the nasty moles!! I lost a number of plants to the little varmints, particularly the newly planted tulip bulbs. I, too, am working on converting my herb garden to a potager, since it is just outside my kitchen door. Fighting with the rain and heat the last few years has made it a serious battle. The rain feeds the weeds, the heat encourages their unruly growth. But, at 71, I can’t handle working in the sweltering temps. So, I finally have fed and tilled half of it. The other half I have covered with plastic sheeting to kill everything. It should be ready to till by next spring. I do like the reasoning on your no-dig method and may work the second half in that this fall as we have plenty of leaves come autumn.

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Friday With Friends Upcycled And DIY Crafts To Make Today | July 17, 2020 - 2:42 am

[…] One more for the road; every year after pruning the fruit trees I dream about putting together a wattle fence. They are the ultimate for a romantic cottage garden. Don’t know what a wattle is? Then click HERE […]

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Peta Forsyth August 5, 2020 - 3:50 pm

Maybe a bit late to the party as its now August, but moles and all creatures that shuffle close to the ground hate cinnamon, so you could try sprinkling it around and down the holes.

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