Herbie and the Market Garden

Cynthia and Pattie on the barrow

I’m currently drawing up a plan to grow loads of (mostly cullinary) herbs next year – part of a little commercial enterprise I’m cooking (ho ho!) up. The other day I was out in the car with Mum, and we had to take a little detour through the grounds of Woburn Abbey (belonging to Duke and Duchess of Bedford). Mum had been there the day before and she was explaining about the walled kitchen garden. Apparently there used to be upwards of 40 gardeners at Woburn Abbey – now there are only 6. How times have changed! Anyway, we stopped and I had a quick chat with the deer that were hanging around the side of the track that leads out of the Park grounds, and then whilst we were driving along and talking, Mum revealed to me that the land and surroundings (about an acre and a half) that our house was built on (and the bit left over next to our house that was left fallow for decades) used to be a proper market garden, with chickens, vegetables, and the remains of the orchard. The neighbouring 70s terrace was built on the remaining land after our cottages and the nearby railway cottages were built, but with their postage stamp sized gardens, a generous bulk of the fallow land was left for some 20 odd years to become overgrown with brambles and bindweed. So much so that we didn’t really realise that there were all these fruit trees growing there until we cleared it when we bought it in the 90s.

So it’s really made me want to almost “put it back” to what it once was. You see, we have two parts to the Smallest Smallholding – there’s what we call the “garden”, and then the “working” Smallest Smallholding bit. The garden is obviously for flowers, socialising, pottering, and the like. The working bit is the centre of the smallest smallholding, although with my love of all things wildlifey, I admit it will be more like a potager/kitchen/market garden than just land turned over purely to arable means.


  1. What an interesting post. I enjoyed reading alittle of the history of your plot of land. sSra from farmingfriends

  2. It’s a good feeling being custodian of land that has been cultivated for years. I often find little peices of pottery tobacco pipes in our garden soil – and imagine the gardener smoking his pipe after pruning the apple trees or planting seeds. Over 200 years of gardeners working the soil and growing good food within our garden wall.

    It great to hear how excited you are about your smallest smallholding.


    PS great photo of your girls (they look so happy) and the apples!

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