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…

Advertisements

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 …


Wait for MEEE!

March 14, 2016

And now, bang, spring has arrived and oh God I’m not ready. In fact I’m not even sure what ready might look like and I don’t have any time to get ready either. I’ve done nothing in the garden for weeks and when I went to drop off some seed potatoes from potato day to my gardening chum today* he’d got his tomatoes and leeks and peas all growing away on the windowsill already.

Seed potatoes

Seed potatoes from Potato Day. An even more random selection than usual because I had to deputise my parents to pick them up and they had to substitute some of my (already quite random) selections for random selections of their own.

It doesn’t help that – as alert readers may have already divined – our househunting activities have switched from ‘vaguely hoping someone might sell us a house’ to ‘actually going and looking’ so there is a real danger that we may buy something before I’ve harvested so much as a new potato. Still there’s an equally real danger that we’ll still be here this time next year in which case it would be good to have planted some vegetables. After all, as has been pointed out, vegetable seeds cost a few pounds whereas houses cost quite a lot more, so planning our house buying around not losing some of my garden produce is perhaps to get things out of proportion.

seed order

So the seeds have arrived, the potatoes are chitting and I’ll just have to hope that it all works out in the end.

* Errandonneering ride 10, as soon as I’ve worked out what category that comes under.


Unsprouting

February 28, 2016

Hmm. Was I ever foolish enough to claim that purple sprouting broccoli was indestructible? Over the years I’ve been growing it, I’ve certainly put that to the test, having seen my plants variously munched by caterpillars and pheasants, been felled by frost and heavy snow, bolting, and suffering from general user error and still coming up flowering in spring. This year, despite being eaten by the rabbit, they had started to recover but when I went up to check on the veg plot this afternoon (shamed into action by the other half actually starting to tidy up the garden this morning) I was distressed to notice that my celebration of their recovery had been premature

unsprouting broccoli

I don’t know what exactly is causing the damage this time. I thought we’d got rid of the rabbit, although there could still be a gap in the fence. The damage looks a bit different from when the rabbit was rampant before too – the plants look almost as if they have been gnawed

gnawed broccoli plants

Any ideas apart from extremely unambitious beavers?

The garlic, on the other hand, is going great guns. growing garlic