Pottering On

May 4, 2018

Obeying the iron law that seeds only germinate *after* the gardener has given up on them, my Himalayan poppies have finally popped up having been planted in March and largely given up for dead in April.

himalayan poppy seedlings

There’s no end to the disasters that may befall these tiny little scraps of green before they get a chance to turn into any sort of display of flowers but it feels like an achievement anyway. And besides, tending seedlings is really my favourite part of gardening – as I said in my last post, my gardening tends to be of the kill or cure variety but there’s something about these hopeful little green shoots emerging from the soil that makes me spend far too much time watering them, turning them, blowing gently on them to encourage stronger growth, and just generally hanging over them hoping they’ll be okay out there in the big bad world.

pea plants going out

But all good things must come to an end, and my pea plants were beginning to tangle their tendrils with each other so out they went today in the first real test of our new raised beds (the potatoes got there first, but potatoes will effectively grow in anything so they don’t really count).

pea plants under cloches

For now they’re still getting a little cossetting with bottle cloches and a precautionary slug trap, but soon they’ll have to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile, if anyone’s got any tips for germinating lemon seeds, I’d be grateful. Assuming that the iron law doesn’t apply in this case, and the batch I planted weeks ago doesn’t surprise me tomorrow …

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I’ll See your Veg and Raise you …

March 16, 2018

Vegetable plot in March

vegetable plot master plan

Master plan. Version 1 …

As I mentioned earlier, plans are afoot for raised beds in the veg plot, which is currently home to some overwintering and just-about-to-bolt leeks and some hare-nibbled kale. Indeed, I had gone so far as to measure out the space available, work out the size of raised beds I wanted and draw up an actual plan. I was quite pleased with myself at having done this by myself, no mean feat with a tape measure that’s not actually as long as the longest stretch of the vegetable plot.

Having sourced some locally made recycled plastic raised beds, and realised how expensive the whole thing was going to be, I then effectively parked the project to think about it for a while, until I either made a decision or some raised beds miraculously fell out of the sky, but with spring approaching and no alternatives magically presenting themselves, I ordered a single raised bed unit to see whether they looked okay in real life.

This arrived yesterday, about 3 hours after the email telling me it would be coming in 3-7 working days (always good to manage your customers’ expectations), so today I went out to do one last check of my measurements and set the bed up where it was likely to end up. Hmm. Top tip for gardeners: always best to ensure you have included the widths of the paths between the raised beds in your masterplan…

After recruiting the other half, a bit of re-measuring, the removal of one buddleia bush (don’t worry about the butterflies, the garden is currently about 30% buddleia by volume), the demolition of the hare defences, and the remeasuring of the space, we worked out that we did have space for everything, got the trial raised bed up and had a look.

recycled plastic raised bed

It is quite shiny, although I suspect that won’t last. Much as I like the aesthetic of wooden beds, I like the thought of adding to the market for recycled plastic products even more, so we’ve decided to go for it and buy 10 more to complete my master plan.

The master plan also includes better hare defences, and I’m thinking we can move our bay trees into the plot as well, as they seem to get fairly heavily nibbled by the hares, especially in the snow. But then again, there wasn’t much else in the garden they could eat during the snow apart from the kale. Obviously it would be ridiculous to have extra bay trees elsewhere in the garden, just for the hares. So we definitely won’t be doing that. Definitely. Ridiculous idea.

hare outside front door

Anyone know what other plants hares particularly like to eat?


Reaping What I Sow

July 18, 2017

One of the great pleasures of growing your own veg is being able to magic up a meal out of the garden when you suddenly remember that you were supposed to have gone shopping for a vital ingredient of the meal you had actually planned.

beetroot harvest

Of course the meal in question is usually some variation on the theme of ‘random veg frittata’, but this is usually pretty delicious, so I’m not complaining.

In fact, though I’ll undoubtedly come to regret saying this, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the veg plot so far. Despite radical neglect from me, and the attention of the hares, it does seem as if the whole no-dig and plenty of organic matter approach has worked remarkably well. It’s all a bit unruly and I can barely get to my peas to harvest them but they are growing better than they did in the old plot.

lush growth in the veg plot

As long as I can find them while they’re still sweet enough to eat straight from the pod, then that counts as a win. Peas rarely make it to the kitchen in this household.

peapod

And my neglect of some of the wilder corners of the rest of the garden has also reaped an unexpected reward. I decided to leave some of the wild raspberry canes when I noticed they were producing fruit, and as a bonus, one of them is producing yellow raspberries, which are absolutely delicious.

Now I just have to work out how to incorporate them into the rest of the garden…


First Find your Veg Plot

July 6, 2017

We needed potatoes tonight, and the first of the earlies were likely to be ready. There was just one problem …

overgrown veg

I’ve been neglecting the veg plot recently, it’s safe to say. There’s just too much other garden to be getting on with, not to mention all the other things I’ve been doing and so I’ve been letting the hares keep on top of the weeding, without, it must be said, a great deal of success.

Fortunately, most of what’s in the plot this year is stuff that can just get on with things themselves, like broad beans

broad beans

And potatoes of course.

First potatoes

First crop of new potatoes. Very satisfying

Mental note to self: next year, plant the earlies right by the entrance to the plot, instead of deep in the back corner.

veg plot found

By tradition, all home grown veg is nothing less than delicious.

potatoes being cooked

And these were no exception.

 


Out with the Old

January 8, 2017

We had one last task left over from 2016 this afternoon – finishing up at the old plot and clearing out the greenhouse.

We weren’t the only ones doing a bit of clearing up – as we approached the gate, a buzzard flew out of the walled garden and when we got in there we found out why. Just be thankful that I decided there was no tasteful way to photograph what was effectively the top third of a rabbit. Too late for most of my veg, unfortunately.

clearing out kale plants

We came away with the last leeks, a few token kale leaves and broccoli sprouts, and a bag full of chilies.

And that’s all, folks.

empty greenhouse

2017 will be all about the new veg plot, a fruit cage, and hopefully finding a replacement greenhouse. I cycle past an empty one every time I go into Bigtown which is slowly falling into decrepitude. One day I may have to stop and make them an offer…

road ahead

No reason for this photograph, except I liked it


All Good Things …

December 12, 2016

… must come to an end, and that includes the old veg plot and greenhouse.

destroyed kale

The rabbit has been systematically working its way through the curly kale (you know, you wouldn’t think rabbits were all that systematic but they do seem to like to eat things in order).

chillies ripening

I do like the way these chillies ripen, as if they had been dipped in paint (or held in the fire until they glowed red hot)

In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are finished and we should really put the tomatilloes out of their misery, but the chillies are still staggering on and producing chillies. In fact, there’s a three-line whip in the town mouse household at the moment – if it’s possible to put chillies in a dish, then in they go (fortunately they’re not that hot)

chilli crop

Meanwhile, after five years of trying, I appear to have cracked the secret of growing a decent crop of leeks: move house before they are due to be ready.

leeks

Fun as it is to have a new garden to play with and a whole new vegetable plot of my very own, I’m really going to miss the old plot. Not many people get a proper walled kitchen garden to play with (even a part of it) and a big greenhouse to boot. I’ve learned a lot in the past few years – mostly of the ‘what not to do’ variety – and we’ve eaten well as a result, even if occasionally it’s felt like an effort to get through all of the bounty that’s been produced. If I’m feeling sufficiently sentimental, I may even go through some of the edit highlights before I finally say goodbye.

We’ll have to wait and see what lies beneath the carpet in the spring and start a whole new vegetable growing adventure …


Before a Fall

March 31, 2016

seeds planted

As I took this photo in the greenhouse yesterday – pleased at having caught up a bit with my gardening backlog and got all the ‘sow by March’ seeds at least started in the greenhouse – I reflected that, over the years, I had managed to pick up a few bits and pieces about this grow-your-own lark (after all, making mistakes is probably the most effective way to learn). While things might change if we move to a new place with new soil and new pests and a different microclimate, at least in my old familiar plot in the walled garden I knew enough to get the growing season off to a good start in a pretty slick operation, even if I did say so myself.

With the other half’s tomatoes and tomatilloes germinating on the kitchen windowsill, and the chillie seeds enjoying the gentle heat of the rayburn, and the seed potatoes chitting nicely at the back of the greenhouse ready to be dug in, I went to bed feeling that we had done a good days’s work.

And woke to a heavy frost. I *think* the seed potatoes should have survived it, but who knows what a seed potato that has succumbed to frost looks like, compared to one that hasn’t?

Certainly not me …