Just as I love to be able to turn any ol’ yarn into something you can wear, or sit on, or fly from the flagpole atop your roof, I also love to be able to pop a vegetable seed in the ground and wait for it to turn into DINNER. OK, you do have to wait months for that dinner to even be ready to cook (just like you have to wait weeks for the cardigan to be ready to wear), but hey, it’s good to work up an appetite, no?
Last spring was a wash-out on the growing things front (final unsuccessful IVF, blah blah blah) and the year before that, snails and cabbage-white caterpillars scoffed all my brassicas. Not that I’m still bitter about that or owt.
…But this year, I’m back to my foolishly over-ambitious self.
In the back garden, I’ve cleared out our little veg patch with the help of one of the twinnage, and planted it up with a variety of goodies, then covered it securely with a netting cage to prevent any of the vegetable plants from escaping.
Can you tell that I’m no horticultural expert? If you want someone who knows what they’re doing, speak to Narf (sustainable cultivation of the most amazing array of fruit and veg in Tasmania: she’s just moved her blog to here), or Gardening Nirvana (stunning, creative, beautiful and wise gardening in the US), or The Contented Crafter, who has converted an unprepossessing backyard in New Zealand into the most verdant oasis of colour.
But meanwhile you’re here, so let’s proceed with the amateurish bumblings.
With some very inconsistent help from the twinnage, I’ve planted peas, rocket, radish, purple carrot, dill, sprouts, spinach, and potatoes outdoors, and then leeks, peppers, courgettes, broccoli, cauliflowers, giant pumpkins, lettuce, basil, runner beans, two kinds of climbing bean, tomatoes, and two kinds of courgettes indoors. I’m sure that the local wildlife will thoroughly enjoy devouring the whole lot. In the wake of the great caterpillar-brassica fiasco of 2014, this year’s pest defences include beer traps for snails (the Stoic Spouse’s home-brew should do the job), planting nasturtiums to attract things that eat pests, and also shouting “STOP IT!” very loudly at the twinnage if they venture too near the seedlings.
So right now, there are 117 tiny pots of planted seeds and also the next batch of chitting potatoes sitting on the windowsill, all waiting to be neglected. It’s survival of the fittest round here. I mean, they’re going to have to be tough to live in our garden, so they may as well begin to prove their determination and resilience whilst they’re still being mollycoddled in their own private pots on a cushy windowsill. Dinner will be ready in about July, but you might have to bring your own wine, because my grape vine is showing very little inclination to stir itself.
Meanwhile on the allotment, potatoes have been planted, and the broad beans and onions are s-l-o-w-l-y beginning to acknowledge that they’re supposed to be growing:-
My genius allotment-mate suggested we use square foot gardening to interest the twinnage. Please note that this practice does NOT involve slicing your feet into equilateral tetragons. (Gawd, my humour is dismal today.) Instead, you divide a small plot (a yard/metre square, for example), into roughly foot-square sub-plots and grow a different crop in each of these. It’s an efficient way to produce a high yield of lots and lots of lunch. And it’s fun and manageable for kids.
So the twinnage each helped to make their own little divided plot. The idea was embraced with enthusiasm.
Each little area was carefully labelled and planted. The twinnage got to decide what should be planted where.They kept at it for quite a while, but were then overtaken by the excitement of digging down to the water table in another part of the allotment, and jumping up and down in the resulting quagmire. I’d probably have been the same at their age. I think their motivation will improve as things actually begin to grow.
Back home, I’m grudgingly acknowledging that it’s sometimes worth growing things to look at as well as things to eat, so I’ve planted up the hanging baskets:-
And having done all THAT, I think I’m finally allowed to sit down and get back to crocheting the yarny garden of my giant project, yes? Speaking of which, many photos coming soon…
I can see you are getting harrowingly close to a change of blog name ‘The Twisted Gardener’ does have a certain ring to it ….. Good luck with all the growing 🙂 And it’s wonderful that the young fellows are so enthusiastically involved as well. Thank you for the shout out – I’d nearly forgotten about my lovely summer garden already…… it was lovely wasn’t it ……… I’m still hanging in there for the big reveal. No pressure.
Sarah, Hampshire says
Spring is always my favourite time of the year too as it holds such promise with seeds germinating and the promise of delicious produce to eat in the months ahead.
Good Luck with all your endeavours Phil and may your crops be pest free! x
Square-foot gardening works! We did it, but we made narrow walking paths between the squares.
I must bow to you and what has most probably been the most impressively spectacular bout of procrastination I have had the pleasure to have taken great schadenfreude from at any given time. All of that effort to avoid that garden. I am thinking you should delegate a bit of it to each of us and tell us to hook for the queen (effectively you at the moment). Thank you for the wonderful link but I would like to add that we are about to rip most of Sanctuary up to create something wild, wonderful and water wise so all my blog is full of is garden devastation and our endless, ongoing efforts to tame that which has vowed to NEVER be tamed. I will tell you a little story about my sons efforts to grow brassicas this season. He has 2 little veggie gardens. One is cram packed with completely pristine Chinese vegetables of all kinds. Nothing has even sniffed at them and they stand tall, green and glorious. The other garden bed is full of stalks. Apparently the stalks were supposed to contain leaves and broccoli but the white cabbage moths had something else to say about that. When my son noticed that the cabbage moths were having a bit of a chew he came up with an ingenious solution that was bound to save the day. He caged up the garden bed and let his quails loose to scoff the offending larvae. He came back from work (down the accountant mines) to find that the quails had shunned the larvae for the delicious broccoli leaves and had completely stripped the plants. Sigh. As you say, ALL of nature is after our goodies.