After our successes growing our own veg last year we decided this time to take it to another level. We bought a greenhouse and created a few more raised beds so that we could grow strawberries, salad (too many types to list), cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes, sweetcorn, peas, mange tout, carrots, onions, beetroots, raspberries, potatoes and probably some more things I can’t remember right now. Basically, moving our growing operations up a step! And if you’ve got any veg growing tips then let me know!
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Our First Proper Harvest
In the continuing saga of us growing our own veg we’ve hit a major milestone. While we’ve been eating more lettuce and other greenery than you can shake a stick at (we’ve had to give some to our neighbours such is the amount we’ve grown) we’ve been really looking forward to our ‘proper’ veg being ready. I’m thinking traditional stuff like carrots, beetroot, onions and of course potatoes.
We’d been growing potatoes in bags – the sort you add more soil to when the potato leaves have found their way to the surface, bury them and let them break through again and so on until the bag is full. We knew that you’re supposed to wait until they flower before harvesting but ours hadn’t and the first couple of bags we planted were starting to go yellow as if they’d been hit with blight. Turns out that in fact this also means they’re ready for picking so we tipped the first bag out to see what we got – and personally I’m pretty impressed!
To a farmer growing potatoes is as trivial as breathing in and out, but since I’d never done it before it felt like a real novelty. We went with anya potatoes which are small, thin and tasty. We planted two in each bag starting back in March and that was long enough to wait! Anyway, have a look at the photos below to see what we did and ended up with:
This plant growing is definitely a learning experience and there are lessons we’ll be applying next year such as thinning the carrots and beetroots out more, what to plant from seed and what to grow indoors first and many other things. It’s been fun so far and it just makes me want to buy a house with a huge garden so I can fit poly tunnels and grow grow grow! I think I’ll need that lottery win first though…
Some Flowers And Veg Growing In My Garden
Gardening Milestone – Our Veg Starts To Grow
Our plan to grow our own veg is starting to gain some momentum and we spent the day cutting trees, sorting out our veg plots and various other exciting gardening tasks which I felt compelled to document. 🙂
It turns out that the BBC has decided to copy us with their Dig In campaign to encourage people to grow their own veg and I for one take it as a compliment that they were so impressed by my time lapse video that they launched this nationwide initiative. 😉
Anyway, our smaller veg plot has some raspberries, spinach and lettuce growing and you can see from the pictures below that they’re doing well. Some way off providing us with a meal but at least they’re growing in the soil we got (the latter two were sown from seed so the hours Rachael pored over which soil to get was well worth it).
The larger veg plot (the one in the video) has some carrots that we’ve just transferred from growing in our kitchen and we’ve planted some onions too. We’ve still got leeks and some other veg we’ll put in but it’s not time yet (apparently). As if that range of veg isn’t enough we’re also growing potatoes in bags (you roll them up and add more soil as they grow through and eventually you have more potatoes than you know what to do with), more strawberries (having been such a success last year) sweet peas, rhubarb and probably more that I can’t think of right now. I think it’s fair to say we’re hedging our bets and trying lots of different things to see what works and what doesn’t.
I never thought I’d actually enjoy gardening but strangely it’s quite compelling, although it does require patience to say the least! Anyway, I took some pictures to show the various things we’re doing so have a look below – they’re a bit more interesting than your average gardening magazine photos I think!
The First Step To Growing Our Own Veg
My good lady and I decided we’d try something a bit different this year. We decided we’d like to grow our own veg. Last year we started watching the BBC cornerstone show ‘Gardeners World‘ (which is something you start doing at my age I believe) and the sections we found most interesting were presenter Joe Swift on his allotment growing vegetables. I know from friends who’ve grown their own veg in the past that everything tastes better than what you can buy in the supermarket. Even the lowly carrot can be a flavour explosion even if it doesn’t look as straight and neon-orange as one shipped into your local Sainsbury from Venezuela. We thought we’d have some of that.
So a couple of weekends ago we acquired some planks of wood and built a 2m x 1m frame that we’d fill with soil and grow things like carrots, leeks and onions among other things. We also decided we’d convert our rather pathetic water feature into a 1m x 1m plot and grow some more veg. And to top that we’d grow some potatoes in bags and expand our strawberry growing project that was such a success last year. We ordered a tonne of quality top soil and this weekend had the small task of shifting that soil and filling up our newly built veg plots.
My camera has this cool time lapse feature so I thought I’d put it to good use and condense an afternoon’s hard graft into a couple of minutes for your viewing pleasure below:
The thing I love about time lapse videos is that it looks like we know what we’re doing – but I can assure you we made it up as we went along! We were also lucky to have our neighbour’s daughter over to help with finishing the job – it’s not surprising that a 6 year old would want to get their hands dirty! 😉
Anyway, the next step is to figure out exactly what we want to grow and when we should start the planting. I’ll keep you posted!
They’re Much Sweeter When You Grow Your Own
We decided to take some of Jamie Oliver’s advice and grow our own strawberries in hanging baskets this year.
We have (or rather my good lady has) been taking good care of them as they’ve grown from little shoots. We kept looking out for little green strawberries to appear and when they did we were counting the days until we could eat them! Unfortunately the local bird population had other ideas so we netted them up after one particularly juicy strawberry disappeared without a trace one day (and my good lady swears she didn’t eat it).
More and more red strawberries looked almost ready for eating and then last night we decided enough was enough – it was time to harvest! As the title suggests, they really do taste sweeter when you grow your own. We’ve bought a few boxes of strawberries lately but they didn’t taste half as nice as the ones we picked – they were delicious!
Of course my good lady’s creative talents with food presentation made them taste even better:
So if you’ve got hanging baskets filled with boring pansies or some other tedious flowers then why not throw them in the bin and plant something you can later eat? That’s my kind of gardening! And if you don’t like strawberries then not to worry, invite me round your house and I’ll eat them for you! 🙂
The Joys Of Gardening?
One of the reasons I love the winter is that grass doesn’t grow. This means that you can mow the lawn just before it gets cold and not need to do it again for months. When I do mow the lawn I’m not enjoying it. And I don’t think to myself how lovely it’ll look when it’s nice and short. The only reason I do it at all is because (a) my girlfriend nags me to the point of madness and (b) the neighbours nag me to the point of madness.
I suppose I could cope with having to cut the grass every couple of weeks. But the grass where I live is in terrible condition and has always been 90% weeds and moss, with 10% grass – and not very good grass at that. Actually, here’s a question: why do puny kids at school get called weeds? Weeds are the most hardy and versatile of all plants and are virtually impossible to kill. Surely the school tough guys should be called weeds… Anyway, back to my rant. Even if I do cut the grass, it leaves massive bare patches that cats like to use as a toilet. So I can’t win.
My neighbours have, or had, the same problem. They’ve all killed off the grass, laid down plastic sheets, and put small gravel-type stones down. Very nice it looks too. Late last year I decided that I was going to do the same thing. By the time I could be bothered to think about actually doing it we were in the middle of autumn and it was raining all the time. So I decided to leave it until the weather got warm again after the winter. And here we are. The garden’s overgrown again and there’s even a thistle this time (I feel like I’m back in Scotland again). Anyway, it’s getting out of hand so I’m going to have to do something about it. I’m going to use the weed killer my girlfriend bought me 6 months ago to kill everything. And then I’m going to put plastic and then stones down. And then I don’t have to touch it again. Job done. I’ll do it at the weekend.
On a more positive note, my injured toe is almost healed. I can walk properly and can even run. I can’t kick a football properly with my left foot yet (as if I ever could) although I can still catch the ball behind my neck – true, you don’t really need to use your feet for that. So hopefully I’ll get back to playing by the end of next week.
On the subject of football, I’ve decided to support France during the world cup. Being Scottish I’d find my passport revoked if I were to support England (and my family would disown me) so I had to wave the flag for somebody else. I was tempted to Spain as I’m a big fan of Real Madrid, but I just couldn’t resist the “Auld Alliance” tie between Scotland and France. I’ve bought the shirt and I’m ready to cheer them on. So with that decided my June and July should be a lot more bearable. And as most of England’s first team seem to be injured I don’t really see them going on to win it anyway (although meeting France in the second stage would be nice).