I don’t do New Year’s resolutions but this year I announced at the breakfast table one weekend that I would be growing our own vegetables this year come hell or high water. High water could be another way of describing the snow that subsequently put the kibosh on my plans. That excuse only lasted one weekend though.
However the last couple of weekends we have really got stuck in. When I say we I mean the whole family. For the first time Nipper 1.0 really gets it. I think it’s probably because we are growing vegetables this year and he knows what vegetables are. I hope it will translate into a desire to eat them, although, to be fair to him, he’s not too fussy; he’ll even eat the occasional green vegetable. I shouldn’t complain: that’s more than could be said about me at that age.
We began preparing the vegetable bed about 2 months ago. According to all the books that was about four months too late: we should have dug up our vegetable patch in October or November. Not being an owner of a time machine there is not much I could do about that but I will start sooner next year. Undeterred we worked on to create a fine tilth to allow our delicate seedlings to push up throw the fine earth. Y’see how I’m getting the lingo down already?
In the second picture below you will see all of our planters which were in a sorry and disheveled state after the winter. I put most of the contents onto the compost heap and planted some of the leggier looking herbs in our wilderness down the end of the garden, hoping they’ll take off and be a lot more useful than the rapacious bindweed. The picture, right, makes the filthy beggar look very pretty and indeed in high summer it covers a multitude of sins in the no-man’s land at the bottom of the garden. But throughout autumn, winter and spring it is a dead looking and depressing tangle of madness. For those of you not familiar with our garden, a quick diversion to describe it. Our house is a former corporation house built in the late 30s. They were all built with large gardens with no rear access so as a rule they have retained their large back gardens. I understand that part of the reason that the gardens were included was an attempt to encourage the former tenement dwellers to grow their own veg. We also understand thanks to the remaining hillocks on our lawn and the information shared by a passing young fella that his granda, our predecessor, was indeed quite the grower. However the former resident seems to have been an elderly lady and by the looks of things she kept it quite simple. A pity for us in one way but great to have a blank canvas on which to draw a holticultural vision.
So far I have done the following in the garden this spring:
Planted a hedge of alternating Wild Rose and Burnet Rose about which Himself keeps saying, “They’re basically brambles.” I picked up two packs with 20 plants each in Lidl. I can’t remember how much they cost but it’s more hedge than anyone else planted last year when they were off from February to September. No no not looking at anyone in particular.
Spring bedding: I planted Antirrhium (Dragonsnaps), Pansies and Viola. I’m an awful sucker for those colourful displays at the entrance to the garden centre. Formerly I wouldn’t have cared much for this whole spring bedding marlarkey but it was a good way to get stuck back in and fingers crossed we’ll see a riot of colour in a month or so.
Dogwood: We planted two different types of dogwood. This beautiful Cornus alba Siberian Dogwood ‘Aurea’, pictured left, and the other type with the beautiful lime green bark. Whenever we are driving around the country during winter I am constantly admiring the red dogwood and it is planted so that it can be seen from the kitchen.
Vegetables: My original plan was to grow onions, carrots and green beans. We have planted the onions and a short variety of Carrots called Nantes. I have a feeling the carrots will have me heart broke before the season is out. We put them in coldframes to keep them a little warmer and we hope the higher sides will keep the carrot fly away and the loose soil inside will allow them to push up and grow into mellow things. The coldframe on the left of the pics above is warming up and awaiting the green beans. However since my original plan I have also purchased lettuce seed as I understand it is very easy to grow and we might plant out some garlic too. I wonder is that courting danger as I imagine it could be quite likely to spread all over. I also planted fresh rosemary in a pot and in the garden. Our chives are doing really well and the parsley and thyme are okay. We will definitely grow sage again. Our sage was doing really well until it got drowned while we were away in the sun last summer! One of the family’s favourite quick dinners involves sage and rosemary in a bacon and tomato sauce. I must rememeber to post that recipe soon.
Fruit: we have the three fruit trees that my mother gave us last year and the apple blossom above has the most delicious delicate scent. Our Kanzan cherry tree that we planted for Valentine’s Day in 2004 continues to grow from strength to strength despite a shaky start. I also planted rhubarb which Nipper 1.0 went out and took the photograph on the right for me (Yikes I deleted his photo – sorry!) because as he said “I know you love rhubarb!” I do. Rhubarb and strawberry with a coriander crumble. Yum!
Regular updates and photos to follow!