Sunday, 26 April 2015

Aims for 2015

I've been thinking about all of the ways in which our garden is making us happy and I thought I'd try to organise said happiness into a list of all of the things I'd like to get from it this year. So here are my main aims, in no particular order. Did I miss any?

1. Make condiments (ketchup and mustard at the very least)
2. Save at least £250 on fruit and vegetables by using our own produce
3. Eat at least one thing from our tiny garden every week from May onwards
4. Dry and store my own garlic
5. Make ice lollies with our own fruit
6. Make jam with garden fruit
7. Make at least one botanical cocktail using garden produce
8. Carve our own pumpkin for halloween
9. Serve Christmas lunch with our own carrots, parsnips and brussel sprouts
10. Dry and store my own herbs

Saturday, 25 April 2015

White mustard (homegrown)

I love mustard. And one of the things that I can't wait to make this year (as well as ketchup) is my very own mustard. There are just so many potential variations! Lemon juice or vinegar? Whole grain or smooth? But before all of that comes the mustard seed, my fastest growing crop to date. This weekend I moved it from seedling pots to one of my vertical garden hanging baskets. Now all we do is wait!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

I've bean trying to learn from past mistakes

Last year I decided to try to grow peas and beans in recycled shopper bags. It didn't really work. The bags didn't hold their shape and so the bean and peas couldn't scramble up the supporting canes properly. My harvest was pretty minute but what I did get was utterly delicious. So with that in mind, I decided to try to do things properly this year. The bags were out, deep vegetable planters with proper bean supports were in. I've got six planters and six varieties of pea and bean. I started some of them (the borlotti beans for example) in root trainers but I sowed the others (mainly snow peas - shiraz and golden) directly into the ground. Or rather, Mr Garlic did (as I can't get my stupid knee scooter into the stupid side return). And they're starting to germinate! In fact they're starting to look really healthy. The horrible slugs have taken a few but not that many. I'll put some more copper tape around the planters when I can but until then, I will enjoy seeing the stems reach for the skies!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Romanesco broccoli: A bad idea in the making

Have you ever started something and thought, halfway through, what a bad idea it was (by which time you were too advanced to go back?). This year I decided to plant some winter greens. I've got so little space in my tiny urban garden that I usually only grow soft fruits and summer vegetables but this year the blackthorn bushes were irritating me by growing at a snails pace in their raised sleeper bed and so I rashly decided to fill their raised bed with broccoli, leeks and a bit of kale. So I planted some romanesco broccoli seedlings and set about removing the top layer of (cat deterrant) gravel on the bed. Halfway through, I knew this wasn't going to work. The soil is just too full of stones now. And the useless blackthorns have put out surprisingly wide webs of roots. And I don't have the patience. So I bunged the lovely broccoli seedlings in and hoped for the best. A few days later, they had established themselves rather well but they're all stuck together in clumps and after I've thinned them out, there are going to be very few left. Gah. The whole thing was a stupid idea. 

Broccoli seedlings looking puny and thirsty before being watered in

A couple of days later

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Zombie plants: Back from the dead!

Amazingly, some of the pineberries that I planted in my hanging bag are coming back to life. Better still, they're actually starting to fruit! It's important to cover the plants with straw or glass over the winter to protect them, as they're rather fragile and delicate. I failed to do so, being occupied with the GarlicBaby, but they've somehow still pulled through! Incredible plants, I'm very impressed (and eager for them to mature!). Spurred on by this, I checked out the rest of the garden and was amazed to see that both the "Jenny" kiwi plant that got completely gobbled up by caterpillars and the rhubarb I completely forgot that I had planted have both come back to life too. God I love spring...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ask not fig whom the bell tolls...

It finally happened. I was so thrilled by my Brown Turkey fig tree as it produced so many overwintering figs, you know, over winter. And as we're having such a warm snap at the moment, I thought I'd pop it outside so that it could enjoy some of this lovely bright sunshine. So I popped it in the garden, left it for a couple of days and then went out yesterday after the morning's rain and basically watched it die. 
It's sort of withered. The leaves and fruits curled up and died! Poor, poor fig. Another one for the failure list I'm afraid. What a shame. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Slow sloes

I am so frustrated with my blackthorn bushes. I bought them from one of those "Send a tree as a gift" places as a gift for someone that couldn't make the Christmas party that I intended to hand them over at. So into the beds they went (and into some mulled apple juice went the accompanying sloe gin). But they're absolutely awful. They're growing at a snail's pace and occupying an entire raised bed as they do so. Last year I got cross and stuck in the peony that I bought at the Chelsea Flower Show sell-off. And this year I think I'm going to make the bed useful. It was supposed to provide me with lots of lovely fat sloes so that I could make South West London Sloe Gin but so far they still look like rubbish twigs in the raised beds. So I'm going to plant something in with them. I haven't decided whether it'll be kale or broccoli yet but it'll probably be one or the other. Stupid slow sloes. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sow many plans, sow little time

On Easter Monday the lovely Mr Garlic helped me to do a whole morning of gardening. Because I'm stuck on the knee scooter with a broken foot (and my stupid scooter doesn't fit into the side return), he was wonderful and shuttled back and forth with bags of soil and bean shoots and all sorts of other things whilst I sat and planted more seeds. I planted dill, sweet basil, borlotti beans, various squashes, leeks, broccoli and pumpkins and a couple more of the gourmet red peppers that failed last time. It's always messy because I'm so short of space, but I love sitting at the garden table and sowing seeds, knowing that each one will lead to delicious yields in a matter of months.