Thursday, 11 May 2017

Early May

It's the busiest time of the gardening year. I have pots and trays of seedlings and small plants both indoors and outside. I've hoed and dug more of the vegetable beds, and started clearing the paths around them, and planted more crops - broad beans the latest to go in (which I'd started in cardboard tubes back in March or early April).


There's so much more to do. It's not too late to sow many things - especially this far north, and spring here has been slow, with daytime temperatures only picking up into the mid teens since the start of this month. I recently got a book I've wanted since the last time I blogged here a lot - a book on heirloom tomatoes. This has rekindled my love of lycopersicon, so I ordered a few more varieties - it can't hurt, even if they don't eventually fruit. I have the advantage of a greenhouse and polytunnel here, although both need repairing, so I should be able to extend the season somewhat.

I bought a courgette plant from the botanic garden shop - a yellow-fruited variety. I will grow more from seed, but this tiny plant had even tinier embryonic flowers already sprouting. I repotted it on the first day, and in a week it has roughly doubled in size (I've put it out in the sun during the day, brought it in on the chilly nights). It should provide an early crop until the home-down ones get going. I've never grown a yellow variety - they are so pretty, I couldn't resist.

Elsewhere, I've been tackling an area towards the end of the garden near some trees. I've always envisaged a woodland garden there - bulbs and shade-loving perennials with a seating area. So far it's been the hard task of lifting encroaching turf, digging some organic matter into the hard, dry soil, planting (primulas, Trillium, Cardiocrinum, foxgloves), and mulching. It'll need some care, as it's naturally drier there than I'd like, but then it's been a dry spring so far.

Finally, I've been planning ahead in a less glamorous way, making liquid plant feeds from nettles and comfrey, and dock as it seems similar to comfrey in its growing habit. And for the even longer term, I lifted and divided some comfrey, and potted it up - I'll need lots more leaves in the coming months.

The veg plot a couple of days ago, above; and today, below. Progress!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Beginning again

This bed was as overgrown as the one behind it just a few weeks ago.

I've neglected this blog for a few years, in large part because I stopped doing the two things it was set up to document - growing plants (especially edible ones) and cooking. Not that I lost my love for such pursuits, but changes in my personal circumstances and health meant I was no longer inclined to devote so much time to them. One thing that took the place of these activities was in fact due to this blog - I bought a cheap secondhand DSLR to take better pictures to post here, and it began a passion for photography that has become an essential part of my life.

However, I'm willing to try again, especially with growing vegetables. I had never had enough space where I was based before - I signed on to the waiting list for an allotment, but never heard back from them, and now I live somewhere else. The upside is, the garden here is very much larger, and came with a vegetable and fruit patch. The first spring I got stuck in, but having weeded, dug, enriched the soil, and planted lots of crops, I was forced away for several months, so it was largely wasted.

Three years have passed, and I am in a position to start afresh. So far, I've sown a few seeds, and begun to bring the beds back into cultivation. It'll be a slow process - I can't do a lot at once, but cheeringly the work I did before has made it much easier this time round. The soil and paths were lost under a thick growth of nettles, goldenrod, coltsfoot, and creeping buttercup, amongst others, but the soil beneath is still friable and quite rich. Hoeing the top growth, then forking and removing the roots and runners has been largely successful, and the first crops are now in.

So far I have planted out shallots, garlic, and potatoes, and sown broad beans, more shallots, mixed salad leaves, beetroot, tomatoes, and basil. There's a lot more I want to try - there's no limit but the effort I make, so this year I won't put artificial limits on what I set out to achieve. Conversely, I am very realistic and know that I can't do everything, and unforeseen circumstances tend to rule, so I won't get upset with myself if things are left undone.

I'll try to document the progress that I and the garden make together this year. I can certainly take a lot of pictures, at the very least.