The blogging has been a little slow over the last few weeks…. Reasons being that I’ve been working like a maniac and have also been away on holiday for a week (so not all bad really). Now I’m back it’s starting to feel like the summer is drawing to a close and our garden has begun to look a little post apocalyptic. Rather than there being lush green plants sprouting all over the place, it has become more of a patchy, slightly weedy sight with plants showing only the last signs of life.
There are however still a few things left to be excited by, the last of our tomato crop, some red cabbages yet to be tested and the odd cauliflower who seems to be a little behind his friends. The herbs are still going strong, we have radishes giving a good push and beetroot pretty ripe for the picking. The runner beans and dwarf green beans still seem to be producing a few of their goodies here and there too. However I now feel it’s time to sit back and take stock of what has been successful and what not in our first year of veg growing. Hopefully this will help work out where we went wrong and where we hit the nail on the head.
I think our error was to attempt to grow too much in quantity and variety which left our plants a little under nourished, cramped and not quite getting the attention that they each needed. At the same time though, I was amazed to see what could be grown in a space as small as ours and will certainly be going back for some more of the same crops. I want to improve on our courgettes next year as they seemed to fall fowl of a disease which I’m sure I could have prevented with a more beady eye and we ended up only getting about 4 or 5 courgettes in total. I’ve also learnt that our heavy clay soil is not great for growing root vegetables, so they will most likely be confined to pots next year.
The prize plants for productivity and deliciousness were probably the lettuces, the kale and the runner beans. The tomatoes were and still are pretty high up there on the taste factor, but they are strangely small so I will have to work out what happened there – any tips would be gratefully received?! Radishes proved one of the easiest things to grow and the carrots (if a little misshapen) were very good. Anyway, I’m excited to have seen that it is possible and not too difficult to grow a good amount of veg in a small concrete city garden that doesn’t get a huge amount of direct sunlight. I thought all odds were against us, but many a delicious meal has sprung from our garden and it really is something truly special to have at your fingertips.
There is a huge part of me keen to try out some new and different produce next year and I’m sure we will. Another part of me wants to play it safe and go for the things we know we had success with and the other part of me wants to perfect what didn’t quite work. Also, I intend on being more organised about it so as that there are some crops that will take us into the winter. All good intentions. But the long and the short of it is that it’s immensely satisfying to go from no garden experience to being able to eat and share things planted with my own hands and I strongly urge people to have a go themselves – even if it’s just a window box with your very own garlic.
- During the winter, dig over the soil to incorporate lots of nice compost.
- Sowing seeds is simple and the packet instructions tell you exactly what to do. Research before planting what conditions each plant needs and plant it as best you can according to these guidelines.
- Feed the soil regularly with an appropriate fertiliser to keep everything nice and healthy
- Beware of bugs and beasties. Birds love strawberries, caterpillars love any nice big leaves. There are all sorts of strange diseases that plants can get, but with a good book like The Vegetable and Herb Expert you can normally work out what the problem is.
- Pick things when they are ready, otherwise they go to seed and you don’t really want to eat them. Things keep in the fridge way longer than you are probably used to because they are so FRESH when you pick them.
- Weeding is boring, but you have to do it.
- Things taste nicer when you grow them yourself.