Tag Archives: organics

Grow Food, Teach Others, Get Well

Garden progress0001_9

New label and pen. Tired of the ordinary ones fading, and these are on show to the public.

What a packed and progressive few days! So many seeds sown, so many improvements made. My son has been over and strimmed much of the wilderness back, at least making the ground visible and easier to navigate. The old greenhouse base halfway down the garden is now cleared of rubbish and ready to set up as a shaded seating area and I have sorted out every last container on the main patio-my main view from the conservatory, and it’s all looking really good!

My main source of pride is the trays and trays of seeds and seedlings, and the sprouted seeds we had with our salad tonight, flavoured with edible chive flowers and lemon balm leaves. Herbs add depth to what could be pretty boring lettuce!

Seeds sown? In the vegetable bed Rick cleared for me: Carrots – Nantes 5, parsnip Tender and True and beetroot Boltardy. Out on the patio in modules we have most other things, like lettuce, spring onions, garlic chives, loose leaf salad, sugar snap peas, runner beans, dwarf French beans, climbing French beans, chard, and more. Strength may be lacking but determination certainly isn’t. Bit by bit the garden I thought may go to ruin this year because of recuperation time is getting done because I need to incorporate it to recover! My doctor last week prescribed anti-depressants. But the ones IN the soil (yes, scientists have found antidepressants in the soil) seem to be working for me. Now I’m gardening again I’m happy again!

Being keen on conservation and organic growing, we had two linked water barrels taking the water off the house roof. They have both now developed bad leaks, so my plan is to cut them in half (his job) and turn the bases into planters for my demonstration front garden, then use the others as raised beds in the back. I’ve seen this done before and they look great, and there’s no plastic waste, just up cycling! We still have to get new water barrels, though. I also have an old council composting bin which can be re used as a potato barrel next year. For now it lives behind the shed. And I bought special black labels and a white maker pen for labels that stand out and won’t fade. So they say. Time will tell.

Up the path by the greenhouse

View back towards the house, newly sorted patio looking good!

Raspberries planted last year, good crop expected!

Raised beds. One cleared, but work needed on the rest

Wire doggie protection for my seedlings.

My newly sorted and tidy patio. At last somewhere nice to sit.

View from my bench down the garden

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Aubergine Triumph!

 

Aubergine Flower

Aubergine Flower

I was nineteen when I got my first garden and attempted to grow my own tomatoes. I had a plant sitting by my newly purchased back door, before I’d even had the chance to garden. My dad was envious, as my tomatoes in a pot, with yellow leaves and restricted growth yielded more tomatoes than his cosseted greenhouse plants. Forty years on, I have a large garden and a bit more ambition. So as I have a greenhouse big enough I decided to try aubergines this year, and wow, I’m so pleased. Fruits are forming! The flowers are beautiful and the fruits curious and exciting. There’s always something new to learn and try with gardening. Always something exciting happening. They seem to have done well with regular potting on in good compost and fed about fortnightly since the flowers started to form.

Aubergine Forming

Aubergine Forming

The strawberries are about finished now and I’m going to root some runners. Some for me and some to give to friends. Figs are swelling and I’ve cut back its growth. It is going mad, as it’s planted in the ground and has too big a root run. I inherited it, so I’m going to give its roots a prune come autumn, to hopefully restrict its growth a bit next year, otherwise this triffid will take over!

On the vegetable bed, we’re still eating new potatoes, yielding about 1k per plant. We’re also eating turnips, khol rabi, French beans, runner beans, lettuce and swiss chard. It’s brilliant! I’m so pleased with progress. It’s very satisfying to have at least half of your dinner plate filled with home grown, fresh, vitamin loaded produce. Flavour and health combined with satisfaction. Great for the digestion! I just need to produce more soft fruit now.

Where potatoes have come out, broccoli is going in. The ground has to be stomped on to firm it for them, but it’s best use of the space, and will give us a late autumn/winter crop to look forward to.

Tah Dah! Aubergine definitely growing bigger!

Tah Dah! Aubergine definitely growing bigger!

Today I’m taking cuttings of perennials, to increase stock. I’ve bought quite a few new ones this year, with the intention of bulking them out to make a better display next year. Gardening is all about patience. It has its rewards. It’s so satisfying to see the fruits of your labours and plans, even if you have to wait a year for the results. It’s also worth taking cuttings to ensure I have replacements should any die off during the winter.

I have a holiday planned. A road trip to catch up with old friends. I’ll have to leave my partner in charge of the garden and greenhouse, but I think he’ll cope. As long as I leave a set of instructions and phone regularly, I should come home to a living garden!

Summer Rewards The Work Of Spring and Butterflies Where Are You?

Buddleia for the butterflies

Buddleia for the butterflies

Spring is hard work in the garden. Digging, weeding, the preparation of vegetable beds and the propagation of flowers for those bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Summer brings the rewards, as well as the maintenance jobs and late summer sowings.

We’re now eating lettuce, khol rabi, turnip, a bumper crop of new potatoes, strawberries, beans (runner and French) radish and leaf beet. Tomatoes are delicious and aubergines are forming in the greenhouse. Delightful! I’m now a little frustrated, as I tripped and fell flat on my face on a hard wooden floor a couple of days ago, and muscles and bruising now have to be rested and nursed better. So how I’m going to remove the foxgloves, dead head the ladies mantle and other plants that will seed everywhere I don’t know. I also want to sow more beetroot and spring onions. Despite all the stuff that seems to be growing well, spring onions aren’t. I don’t know why I’m having such trouble with them, as they are normally easy to grow, but this year I’m having to buy them in. Very few have germinated and grown. Maybe I need to change to another seed supplier for them, or grow them in a different spot.

Wow, just went out to get some veg for lunch and realised what a great crop of Dwarf French beans we have. I’ve grown the climbing variety before but didn’t have room for the dwarf ones. They’re quite prolific and will definitely be on next year’s grow list, as they’re my partners favourite! Some you lose, but others you win. I’ve already got a small later crop sown in a container, so we should have even more to come.

Using Painted Lady runner beans seems to have helped keep the pigeons at bay, too, so my runner crop has set much better than last year, with less nipped off pods. I’m glad pigeons aren’t more intelligent! Now the beans just need a little time to develop. They are MY favourite! I could eat a plateful at a time.

Cosmos for the Butterflies

Cosmos for the Butterflies

The rest of the garden is great at the moment, with lots of flowers chosen to attract the insects, especially butterflies. So where are they? I have cosmos, buddleia, sedums and different daisies in flower now, but very few visiting butterflies. Even the verbena bonariensis has only attracted the odd small tortoishell. Disappointing and worrying. Are numbers really that low? Bees are here. I’ve even spotted a leaf cutter bee nesting in one of my alpine troughs, and I think is what is carving up my dahlia leaves,  and hoverflies are here too. So please come, butterflies. There’s a whole snack bar waiting for you!

Pallet Planter For ME

Pallet Planter For ME

Our experiment with a pallet planters is a resounding success. We made one into a wall planter for alpine strawberries (better than opal fruits for a burst of flavour) and the other into a free standing planter for my precious flowers, mainly fuchsias. That stands against a fence which was bare and boring before, but not now. Re-cycling at its best!

 

Biennials For Next Year’s Flowers And Insects

Aquilegia

Aquilegia

This year’s biennials were very late to flower, but they’ve now set seed, which all thrifty gardeners will want to collect. Of course, if your aquilegias or foxgloves were f1 hybrids, they won’t come from seed, but ordinary garden plants could produce some interesting seedlings. Many of the biennials in my garden are self-sown, including the stunning aquilegia in the photo above.

Allium Purple Sensation attended by grateful bee.

Allium Purple Sensation attended by grateful bee.

So I am collecting what I can and sowing now for next spring. The bees and butterflies will love me for it, judging my the numbers of them feeding on the nectar this year. I’ve also collected seed of some allium purple sensation, which I planted last autumn and took pride of place in the border while in flower. I want more of them so have saved seed for sowing in spring. They may take two or three years to come into flower, but I’ll have raised them myself for nothing. That’s a pretty healthy budget!

Foxglove

Foxglove

Grow High Value Food

Khol Rabi

Khol Rabi

If you’re going to grow your own, it makes sense to grow the foods that are expensive in the shops. We purchased khol rabi for £1.50 each when we wanted to try it last year. We liked it, so I bought a packet of seed for about £2. This is one of the results. We’ve been eating khol rabi raw on salad and used as a steamed vegetable similar to turnip. It tastes something like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, so a nice new flavour for me to enjoy, and I have to say they are very easy to grow! They don’t seem to suffer from pests, save for one being attacked by a mouse, and slugs seem to leave them alone, preferring more tender snacks. Aren’t they attractive, too?

As we’ve eaten about six so far and I’ve more coming, (you sow in succession) I believe we are making substantial savings as well as increasing our choice of vegetables. What do you grow and how are you saving money?

What a Difference a Year Makes

The Garden Being Cleared

The Garden Being Cleared

What a difference a year makes! Last year, when the monsoon summer threatened to wash gardens away, we were just beginning to clear a neglected-for-several-years plot. This bed was a tangle of brambles, nettles and neglected shrubs.

But look at it now! Still not perfect, still not as I want it, but a huge improvement, and buzzing with bees and butterflies.

I lifted the plants that were in the bed, removed tons of Spanish bluebells, added some organic matter, replanted some shrubs and plants after cutting them, quite harshly, back. Then I started adding my own plants, either grown from seed or bought from various places. As you know, I wanted to help wildlife as much as possible. I’ve used some wild plants, like the mullein (see last post) and some garden cultivars to fill the bed with colour and flowers for our bees, butterflies and moths. Achillea, foxlgloves, heuchera lambs ear and geranium have attracted lots of different bees, and the buddleia, just starting to flower, is a butterfly magnet. We’ve had a lot of Meadow Browns so far, but hope to see other kinds as they build their numbers back up following last year’s wash out. There is still a lot of work to do on our 120ft long plot, but it’s great to see some planting working out. I will, of course, be moving those plants that are in the wrong places, but not until the autumn.

Garden After a Year

Garden After a Year

Food Glorious Food

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom

Warmth and sunshine with us at long last. I now have a greenhouse full of seedlings and a new 14′ x 9′ raised vegetable bed. As space is limited for vegetables, I’m aiming to get the most out of it for my money. Kohl Rabi, a root veg said to taste like a cross between cabbage and turnip is over £2 each in the shops. Seed packet to grow plenty, £2. They’re growing well in modules before I plant out to beat the slugs. Also in modules are lettuce, salad leaves, turnip, leeks, cabbage, broccoli and calabrese. I’m growing food we love to eat. I have to have a special diet as I’m celiac and have food allergies to dairy and eggs. Variety in my veg is therefore important. My apple tree is flowering now, and this year there are some bees around, so hopefully there will be pollination and fruit.

There will also be french beans, runner beans and sugar snap peas. I’ll wait until after the forecast gales and rain in the next couple of days before doing much planting, though. Not least because of my back, which has me hobbling around at the moment.

How does your garden grow?