Building the Bog Garden

I didn’t plan on spending all day at the allotment today. I had a few jobs I wanted to do which I took my time over and before I had realised it, it was nearly 6 pm! My first job when I got down was to feed the chickens. The chicks were nowhere in sight but as I opened up the food bins, they appeared by my feet. When I turned my back, Cassie and Tommy were perched on the edge of the bins, trying to steal food out of the bags! Rather than spend time turfing them off, I grabbed the food bowl and put in a few handfuls of growers pellets and a small one of corn and left them to eat that. Aggie soon appeared and joined them.

I left them to eat in peace while I cleaned out the nest box and collected two eggs. The other girls seem to have accepted the chicks enough to ignore them most of the time. There are definitely two gangs of chickens but hopefully they will fully integrate soon. Deciding to check on Leia later, I went to say hello to Tracy who was busy working on the bottom section of her plot. We had a chat about her plans for her plot. She was busy digging over a section that used to be a compost pile. Generously, she gave me a spare compost bin and we spent a good while discussing her plan for a small pond next to the compost bins. I left her to her digging and headed off to weed the crazy paving.

After an hour of non-stop weeding, I had cleared about half of the crazy paving. Getting the weeds out from tiny gaps between the paving was tricky. I plan to bring down some weed killer to get rid of theast of the weeds o couldn’t get out. After clearing most of the crazy paving in front of the bench, I took a lunch break. Scoffing oatcakes and enjoying a cold drink, I looked at the allotment as I sat on the veranda. I can’t remember it looking better, even with the string everywhere. When the decking boards are in, it will look even better again.

As I was finishing my last few bites of lunch, Tracy called me over to look at her progress. She had moved her compost bins and sunk a cut-down water butt into the soil. This would form her pond with no need for a liner. All she needed was to bank up the soil around the pond and find some rocks to put around the edge. I suggested we go on a walk around site to see if we could find anything suitable. Searching in the back hedge, we found enough half bricks, limestone chunks and other odds and ends to perfectly edge the pond. I left Tracy to put in some finishing touches whilst I worked out where to put the bog garden.

A bog garden is often next to or surrounds a pond. As our pond is on the veranda, it’s not possible to have a big garden. But bog gardens can go anywhere as long as there is an appropriate moisture level in the soil. Standing at the bottom of the main section of our plot, next to the fruit section, I noticed that the plot is lower on the path side and more significantly, slopes to the back corner near the path. Due to this, that corner of the plot will naturally be soggier and thus I decided it would be the perfect place to put the bog garden. Before I started digging, I used some old bamboo canes and marked out the path and last chevron bed.

I called Tracy over to see what she thought about the size of the bog garden. I knew I had enough liner left over from the pond to have quite a big one. As we talked, I had a rather spectacular idea. In the middle of the bog, I could include a small sunken mini pond. This would allow the surface water to run into it, keeping the pond full and the surface of the bog from having standing water on it. Despite appearances, bog plants do not like standing water.

Grabbing the spade, I began. According to the RHS, you should dig between 12-18 inches down to form the bottom of the bog. It took a while but eventually, I managed to drop the level of the soil down 12 inches. In some places, it was a little deeper but it is almost impossible to get it completely level. I was more concerned with making sure the boundaries were straight as the decking board will go in after the bog is made.

Once I had dug the base of the bog out simultaneously creating an enormous pile of soil, I walked to the shed to retrieve the remaining pond liner. Bog gardens benefit from using pond liner however, it is important to puncture the liner at regular intervals to allow the water to drain. I laid out the liner in the hole and weighed it down with some bricks. As it turned out, it was in an L shape. The upright part was almost the perfect length for the bog and the short horizontal part would cover part of the bottom and the left side of the bog. Tomorrow, I will add a layer of organic matter (weeds, leaves etc) before covering it with the soil I dug out. To ensure the bog is moist, I will also bury a short length of hosepipe. The end of the hose will be blocked to stop water coming out and I will puncture at regular intervals along the pipe to allow water to seep out evenly.

The soil will need to have a few days to settle down. Another job tomorrow is to cut down the spare water butt to form the mini pond. I will put it into the lowest point of the bog before backfilling the soil. Steve has offered me some small 3″ square slabs which I will use to form the top of the pond. At home, I have managed to source a broken ceramic plant pot which I will add to the bog. Old broken ceramic or terracotta pots make excellent houses for amphibians like frogs. For the plants on the bog garden, I am researching different moisture loving plants. Deciding which to plant will be difficult as I want a range of flowering plants and foliage. I am not a hosta fan so I will need to find a substitute.

Before I left, I walked across to see Leia. She wasn’t happy to see me. Ruffling up her feathers, she shouted at me for disturbing her. There isn’t much longer until we will know whether she has successfully hatched some chicks. I changed her water and left her to sulk.

So another full day is planned for tomorrow with finishing off the weeding, adding a pond as well as finishing off the bog garden area. On top of this, we are due to do a full hive inspection on all seven hives. FinaThe weather is supposed to take a turn after tomorrow so it will be important to get as much done as possible!

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