Saturday, 21 October 2017

Moving on: the end of an era

Having left London, I've decided to make another change. I've loved this blog, and "Made with love and garlic" will always be a wonderful reminder of the gardening I did when confined to our little urban patch in London but for our new country life adventure I think that I need something new. So I do hope that you'll join me over at my new blog, London to Land Girl where I chronicle all of our smallholding and hobby farming exploits!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Week one: Settling on our smallholding

What a week. And what a shame that so much of it has been spent inside but with a little boy and two cats (my life really is filled with marvellous small noisy beings), getting the house unpacked so that they could feel like they were home seemed to be a priority. We’ve had a couple of walks around our land and think we’ve sketched out the changes we want to make. Essentially we’d like to add a native hedging border to help the dormice and also to increase our crop of things like sloes, and we’re also going to adjust the ways that the paddocks are set out and to plant an orchard. I think we’re going to fence the pond off and let it grow wild to help the local wildlife and I’d really like to get our vegetable patch started. All in all, a lovely load of rather hard work that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. If only there weren’t so many pesky moving boxes still in circulation demanding my attention! I’m still quite overwhelmed by all of this space. I had a rather naïve idea that we’d move and by the first weekend I’d be outside with a rotavator creating a vegetable garden so that I could plant out autumn garlic and greens and things and realistically I doubt that I’ll be doing that any time this month. We feed the alpacas every day and have had a few quick pokes about the garden but I’m still not entirely sure what’s actually there and what we can do and where the sun shines. We have a resident pheasant called Percy, and he appears to approve of us as he brought his wife over today to strut about the garden whilst our urban cats plastered themselves to the windows staring at what they presumably believe to be the biggest sparrows in existence.

This has been such a massive learning curve. I’ve learnt that nobody can find our smallholding, and that the best mobile reception is at the bottom of the alpaca’s field. I’ve learnt that I wasn’t imagining it, the alpacas really dislike me quite a bit and that I’m a bit tired of being greeted by five sets of ears laid back and brown teeth hissing at me when I come home. I’ve learnt that the people in the village are lovely, with several of them already popping round to welcome us. Everybody seems to know that we’re new and, oddly, where we live! We’re starting to learn which local pubs do the best food (priorities) and how to drive to our local town. I’ve learnt that we own far too much stuff and that frankly we could probably streamline our life as far as belongings go. I’ve also learnt that I can’t wait to get out into the countryside for a walk and that children dislike moving house. All in all we’re happy but tired and I just want to get outside to start pulling the land about!


I managed to make a complete and utter fool of myself yesterday chasing a perfectly nice if baffled neighbour through the whole village flashing my lights at him and gesturing out of the window for him to pull over in the mistaken belief that he was the OpenReach (telephone) installation chap and that he was just leaving my house as I arrived. Those familiar with the difficulties of getting a phone line installed in the UK may have some sympathy for my desperation when I thought he’d arrived early and was leaving again but the fact of the matter is that I felt like a moron and he has every right to think I’m a redneck loon for bearing down on him in such a ludicrous manner. Not, in retrospect, the best way for me to introduce myself to the neighbours. I suspect that any hopes we might have had of simply quietly joining the community and settling down as if we’d always lived here might be shot!


Still, I’m really happy every day when I wake up and wish there were more hours in the day so that I could get on with everything all at once. I shall console myself with the idea that this home will take shape over a series of years, and settle back to enjoy the changes.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Leaving London and moving to the country

In my 34 years on this planet I've lived in 17 different houses, but not one of them has ever affected me like this one. I'm sitting in an empty, echoing kitchen on a camping chair as I type this and in a few hours men in a big truck will come and pick up the last of our belongings and we'll drive down to our new home on our smallholding in rural Hampshire. But for now, I can't sleep for thinking about how much I will miss this place and this city. I've lived in London for more than a decade and I've had the absolute time of my life. This bright and vibrant lively place has been a much beloved home and whilst I fully believe that this move out of London to the country is the right decision for us, I'm quite surprised at how much I'm mourning the imminent loss of this town. 

It appears that an awful lot of thirty-somethings in London reach that milestone birthday and start to pine for a slower River Cottage-esque life in a vague sort of way. Suddenly dinner conversations regularly drift into country village musings, into mumbled "wouldn't it be nice to have some more space" territory that is then left hanging as everyone pours themselves into taxis to go home, checking out property in the Home Counties on their phones as they go. Slowly but surely, a lot of our friends are actually starting to make the move and tomorrow it's time for us to join their number. 

For years now we've been enjoying the city as a family but we kept thinking that actually our son would probably quite like a larger garden, some animals to look after, more country walks, and a smaller community and we've kept an eye on the property market. When our little smallholding came up we snaffled it up, and all of a sudden we're off to start a new rural life and if I'm honest, it's all so sudden that my head is still spinning.

There seems a bit of a conspiracy between those that choose to leave London. They airily talk about how dreadfully dirty London was, how the people were cold and cross, how the commute was awful and the garden tiny, how crime, house prices and terrorism were rising and how glad they are to have left that horrid place and I find it a bit socially awkward because I can't bring myself to agree. Yes, we will have more space, and a safer place to live, and I'm sure we'll have a lovely local community but I love London with a deep and abiding strength of feeling and I'm sorry to be leaving it. I'm sorry to leave our friendly road, where we know most people to say hello to. I'm sorry to be leaving a city where I've never once had to ask for help with a pram on a train. I'm sorry to leave the culture and the buzziness and the architecture and the constant entertainment at my fingertips. And I'm sorry to be leaving my friends because I'm scared I'll be lonely in that new place where we know nobody and will have to start from scratch. I've never had that easy ability to make friends that I've always envied in others and the thought is daunting.

But possibly (and unreasonably) most of all, I'm sorry to leave this house that I have loved so much. The very first time we viewed the house, we stepped inside and just knew that this was the one. I have never loved a home like this. It was here that we planned our wedding and where we returned as newlyweds. It was here that we brought home our little boy in a gloriously joyful state of chaos to learn how to be a family. It was here that we crawled home, dazed and broken to grieve after our little girl was stillborn. It was here that our little family flourished and was happy. This house has seen our annual Boxing Day party grow bigger each year, has seen raucous family Sunday lunches that stretch out into the evenings, dinner parties that ended with appallingly bad singing of folk songs, lovely lazy family days spent quietly playing train sets and jigsaws, regular gatherings of friends and family, birthday parties, rainy days spent in front of the fire with a huge stack of storybooks and drawing paper, Easter egg hunts and so much more. The garden has been completely re-done multiple times and my son helped to plant a lot of it. The house has changed out of all recognition, modified and extended whilst we camped out inside it in a building site. It seems extraordinary to me now that so much could have happened to us in such a short period of time. But now the only sound in this large room is the echo of the keys I type on (and, rather less poetically, the smaller of our cats scratching to go out into the garden). This house is a part of me and leaving it is heartbreaking. 

But life changes. We will move on, we will have new adventures, create new memories, and make a new home for ourselves and our little family. We will make new friends and enjoying having the old ones to stay. We're actually only a couple of hours from London and so doubtless we'll be up to town on a regular basis. This is the right decision and now is the right time to go and I have no doubt that we will be blissfully happy. I'm grateful that I had the chance to live in London and I do think we took full advantage of it. I'm excited beyond belief about our new project and I think it's going to be brilliant fun. But tonight, alone in this room, I am also sad that this glorious chapter of our life is drawing to a close. I will miss you London, and I will miss you, beloved little house, not least because of the memories of those within you. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Review of 2017: garden successes and failures

I've learnt a lot about gardening this year. I've filled my 44 hanging and wall baskets to bursting, as well as my four raised beds. Some things have worked well (I've grown more than £150 of organic produce and haven't bought tomatoes all summer!) and some less well (one measly squash from six plants?). So given the scope of the smallholding project we'll be taking on by the end of the week, I thought I'd look back on my biggest garden failures of 2017 to help me create a reminder list of things not to repeat once I have a proper garden. So here without further ado, are my top ten garden mistakes of 2017:

1. Believing the hype: Climbing strawberry / "Hanging basket" raspberry and blackberry
I have a tendency to believe the advertising hype of new miracle plants. A climbing strawberry and hanging baskets filled to bursting with raspberries and blackberries all sounded perfect for my tiny urban garden. What a shame that they simply didn't work. The strawberries grew a couple of long leaves and then simply stayed the same. Not a single fruit did they bear, and not a single tendril did they put out. What a waste of soil. From the two "hanging basket" raspberries and the two blackberries I got a total of 11 raspberries. Rubbish. From now on I shall be a lot more cynical!

2. Herb overgrowth
A lot of my herbs went to seed this year. I actually don't mind too much because then they attract lots of lovely bees, but it is a shame not to be able to eat them. I think I need to make sure I cut them down to the ground every so often so that they don't all turn into flowers next time. 

3. Pathetic peppers and peas
Actually I don't have much of a learning point here for the simple reason that I have no idea whatsoever why every single one of my eight pepper plants keeled over. I hypothesise that snail hastened their eventual end but I don't quite know why only one of them developed a fruit (which then rotted and fell off). The peas, on the other hand, were snaffled by snails. It was brutal. One day I had climbing peas and a few beans, and the next day, just some sad stalks. I was robbed! Note to self, go after snails. 

4. Squashes / pumpkins vertically
I was very pleased when I managed to get my "hundredweight" pumpkins and my "crown prince" squashes to climb up trellises. But in all honesty, given that they took up most of two raised beds, and that I only got three fruits from nine vines overall, I'm not sure they gave me much bang for my space buck. Vertical gardening is great for small spaces and small gardens but I don't think that squashes and pumpkins are the best choice for really tiny patios. I also had to prune them on a fortnightly basis to stop their triffid-like growth strangling everything else in the garden. All in all, I'll definitely have a pumpkin patch at the new house, but I don't think that I'd grow pumpkins or squash vertically again. 


5. Planting too close together (beets and carrots)
This one is a mistake I've made before and find really hard not to repeat. I always find myself squeezing in more plants than are meant to be in any given patch of soil. But the result is that a large amount of my crop is really quite puny. Next year, with a proper vegetable patch, I'm hoping to be stricter with myself in giving my crops the room they need to grow. 

6. Pinching out tomatoes
I actually think I did enough pinching out of my vines but what I didn't do is to take off the growing tips or to tie the side shoots in properly (again, lack of space made this tricky). But I have to say, given that six vines and a few hanging baskets with cherry tomatoes have supplied our whole family with tomatoes all summer, it doesn't seem to have adversely affected the crop. It did, however, provide copious space for enormous spiders to set up residence. The "mountain magic" tomatoes were growing outside so overcrowding wasn't an issue, and actually they've been enormously prolific. So although I'll grow them properly in the poly tunnel next year, I think I'll leave the outdoor ones to ramble.

7. Chillis
I planted two chillis this year, one gifted to me by a friend and one that I bought as a plug. The first fell prey to the voracious appetites of the South West London slug population, and the second produced two good-sized chillis that never passed green and eventually developed black sides. Bizarre. Why didn't they ripen? Was it too cold outside? I don't know, but I'll try them inside next year just in case, 

8. Pollination problems (plum)
I"ve had my little plum tree for nearly four years now so it should be cropping very heavily and indeed, every year I get a decent bunch of plums and every year they all drop off of the tree. I feel like a total moron because it wasn't until this year when I had problems with pumpkins doing the same thing that I realised (thanks to the geniuses on my Instagram feed) that it was because the tree wasn't being pollinated! We've bought fruit trees for the new house and I've made sure that I have pollination partners for all of them to plant in close proximity. 

9. Buying plugs
Actually I think that one of the main problems I had overall was that I didn't plant out my seeds myself. I bought a lot of plug plants from what I thought were reputable nurseries and by and large they were utterly disappointing. They generally arrived pale, weak and often with their leaves completely stapled by the packaging. I will never, never buy plant plugs again. They're simply not strong enough and I'm convinced that the time they spend in the post makes them punier still. Never again. They're also considerably more expensive than seeds. What a waste!

10. Leeks (didn't plant out soon enough)
The leeks were a bit of a disappointment and I think it was because I sowed them directly. I did thin them but they never really grew to anything approaching pencil thickness, let along actual leek size. Another one to try sowing properly inside next year I think,

All in all I think I'm going to call 2017 a year of gardening practice rather than much else. Still, bring on next year, I'm sure that things can only improve. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Recipe: Warming spicy squash and lentil soup

We recently harvested our Crown Prince squash. I really enjoyed growing the squashes and pumpkins vertically and I was pleasantly surprised by how well they climbed but I do wonder if the fact that they were growing up rather than out was responsible for their poor crop. That or lack of pollination perhaps? Because I did have multiple fruits start to swell and then keel over and fall off the vine. Either way, from three massive Crown Prince vines that dominated one of my four raised beds, I got just one fruit. It was a beauty but scarcity made me spend a few days wondering what to do with it. In the end I went for a simple hearty soup. I always batch cook soup and freeze portions for later and this one was a classic, like autumn decanted into a cup. Enjoy!
Crown prince squash: look at that bright flesh!
Ingredients:
- One squash (I used crown prince), about one kilo in weight
- One cooking (strong) onion
- One head of garlic (I like a strong taste but do use a couple of cloves if you prefer it to be milder)
- A thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger root
- Half a red chilli
- Two handfuls of red lentils
- A heated litre of stock (I tend to use vegetable or chicken)

Instructions:
1. Finely chop the onion and sweat on a gentle heat for five minutes in some oil (I prefer rapeseed)
2. Whilst the onion is cooking (until it is translucent, but don't let it brown), finely slice and chop the ginger root, half chilli and crush and chop the garlic. Rinse the red lentils thoroughly in a sieve until the water runs clear.
5. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and lentils to the pan, stir thoroughly and continue to sauté gently on a low heat for another five minutes, stirring every minute or so.  
5. Chop the squash into small cubes a couple of centimetres square. Add to the pan and sauté for a further five minutes. 
6. Add the hot stock, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Season to taste and allow to simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes (until the lentils are soft). Remove from heat, whizz in a food processor and enjoy!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

A change of scenery: from edible borders to flowery raised beds

We have a new project on the horizon. It's not absolutely certain yet but we're pretty sure we're going ahead. All will be revealed anon but until then I thought I'd show you what that means for the garden. 
The squash and pumpkin vines were so lousy with blight that they looked just dreadful and were dropping rotting leaves everywhere. So once I'd harvested the squashes I decided to cut them right back down (leaving a couple of squashes still to develop). I then pulled up all of the remaining root vegetables from the raised beds which looked dreadful after a month of neglect during our holiday. So I found myself with a couple of empty beds and as our new project is going to mean a total change in lifestyle, I realised that I had to plant them up with easy to maintain flowering bushes and perennial herbs. They look much neater now but I think it's so sad. I'd so much rather be sowing winter cruciferous vegetables and more roots than lavender. Don't they look boring by comparison to the edible opulence of before?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Give that pumpkin the best seat in the house!

Pumpkin before
I've been generally pleased by the way that the pumpkins have grown vertically on a cane support in the garden. They actually haven't fruited that much but that appears to have been down to poor pollination as I've had loads of tiny pumpkins develop and simply rot on the vine. Our tiny urban garden is a lone patch of green in a patio-clad part of South West London and I suspect that there just aren't enough insects to do the work, although I've really enjoyed watching them frolic in the plants. Those of you that follow me on Instagram will know how proud I've been of this one giant pumpkin. I discovered it quite by accident when it started to outgrow the wall herb planter that it had sneakily colonised. It's been getting bigger and bigger and has been pulling my planter off the fence so today I decided that we need to give it a bit more support. That's not easy in such a tiny garden, so as it's late August, I made the decision to go for broke and put all of my hopes on that one fruit. So we removed the three canes that the vine has been climbing and leaned the plant over sideways to sit the pumpkin on a chair where (hopefully) it can continue to grow and swell in the sunlight. I do think it's funny that the pumpkin has a sort of muffin top where it was sitting in the wall planter! I'd actually be happy with the size the way it is but I think it can get a bit bigger, I'll give it until mid-September and then cut the pumpkin free to eat.

The pumpkin throne

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Entering a vegetable competition at the Lambeth County Show

We've always been big fans of county shows and try to attend a couple every year. To be completely honest, our local on in Lambeth isn't usually on the list, but I've always wanted to try my hand at a vegetable competition so I thought we'd try it. 
Pulling Yellowstone, Purple haze and resistafly carrots
I had entered six categories (with encouragement from my lovely Instagram followers) but to my disappointment the majority of what I'd planned to show (tomatoes, peppers, chillis etc) was still unripe and so I had to scramble to find a few entries. I pulled up almost my entire root vegetable raised bed to find enough to enter a few classes. 
The majority of the produce from my "root vegetable" raised bed
I chose to enter six carrots, three round beetroots, a cucumber and a three herb vase. I was a bit nervous as I polished my various entries but it was actually lovely arriving early in the produce tent and setting out my entries with the other competitors, some of whom have clearly been competing for years. The other competitors were very friendly, discussing all of the entries and there was a real sense of bonhomie. 
My "small but perfect" cucumber in situ at the competition
We returned to the fair later that day to find out how the judging had gone and I couldn't believe it when my husband pointed out a "Highly commended" card by my cucumber! I didn't place in any of the categories but I was still walking on air. It's been years since I've won anything and I was thrilled that I'd been able to produce something good enough in my minuscule urban patio garden. Bring on next year, I'm going to enter every class!
Hurrah! Commendations!



Thursday, 13 July 2017

Recipe: Healthy lemony basil pesto pasta with courgette and broccoli

This is a really easy and tasty seasonal dish using home grown basil from the garden that I often make when I"m short of time. We are ardent carnivores but tend to eat vegetarian food during the week and this dish is absolutely delicious. We eat unholy amounts of garlic and so that sauce packs a powerful kick, do reduce the amount of cloves you put in if you'd rather go for a less intense flavour. But I find this is a lovely low calorie version of pesto that really zings and it's all ready within the time it takes to cook some pasta.


Ingredients:

For the sauce
- Four handfuls of washed basil leaves
- 250g fat free natural organic yogurt
- Three peeled garlic cloves

For the pasta
- Two large courgettes
- Large broccoli head
- Small brown onion
- A head of garlic
- Rapeseed oil
- Green pasta (I use a spinach infused organic version) 
- One lemon


Instructions:
1. Put water on to boil
2. Place all of the sauce ingredients in the blender and whizz them until smooth. Set aside. I use a lot of garlic raw in the sauce because I like it to have a real kick but do lessen this if you prefer subtlety. 
3. Wash and slice the courgettes and chop the broccoli. Finely chop the onion and sauté on a medium heat for five minutes until soft, but don't let it brown. 
4. Put the pasta in the water and cook according to instructions. 
5. Add the garlic to the onion in the pan and cook for another three minutes. Add the courgettes. 
6. Five minutes before the pasta is finished, add the broccoli to the water. 
7. Strain the pasta and broccoli and stir in the onion / garlic / courgette mix. Stir in the sauce, squeeze some lemon juice on top and serve immediately. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

How to make sugar-free strawberry ice lollies for children



I've always tried to incorporate our own produce into my cooking but there are times where what we get from our tiny garden sadly just isn't enough for any one project. Take, for example, strawberry ice pops. I like to make homemade ice lollies for GarlicBoy so that I can let him eat his fill without worrying about his teeth but to do that we needed considerably more strawberries than I could get at home. So we after picking the three ripe fruits from our own plants, we headed to our local "pick your own" farm and spent a very enjoyable afternoon filling punnet with fresh strawberries before coming home to turn them into delicious cooling treats.




You will need:

- Strawberries (we used a kilo and this made    about three moulds full)
- Ice lolly moulds (I've picked various up over the years in supermarket sales)
- 100g Low fat organic natural yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon honey

As always I’ve used the directions [ADULT] and [CHILD] based on what I did with my son. However you know your child best so please think about their own capabilities before embarking on any of our projects. Never leave a child unsupervised. And please do tag us on social media if you post photos of your projects, we’d love to see how you get on!




Directions:

1. [BOTH] Go and pick the strawberries, ideally in your garden or a local farm. I found that even a very small toddler had marvellous fun trying to find the ripe strawberries in the plants. 
2. [ADULT] Put the strawberries in a colander and your [CHILD] at the sink and set them to washing the hulled strawberries. 
3. [CHILD] Place the strawberries in the blender and add the natural yoghurt and honey. [ADULT] Whizz until as smooth as possible and pour into the moulds. Freeze overnight and enjoy!




Thursday, 15 June 2017

Herb management

Overgrown herbs
Scarily shorn herbs
I've found it so rewarding having a large herb garden outside and have started to plan our weekly menus (because that's the kind of geek I am) around what might be ready to use in the garden. The herbs have also acted as a lovely lure for all kinds of wildlife. I was hoping for a couple of bees but the massive variety of butterflies and bees that have made our garden a regular stop has really delighted me. The herbs have been a big part of that. I was initially frustrated when my thyme kept flowering regardless of how much I took away but it appears to be the hip new neighbourhood eatery for a wide variety of butterflies, moths and bees so I let it keep going rather than replacing it. I did have to give the rest of the herbs a drastic shearing though as the flat parsley, curly parsley and coriander had shot up out of control and were starting to tear the cat netting at the top of the fence. They also flowered at a rate of knots so I compromised with the insects - they could keep the thyme flowers and I'd cut everything else back to within an inch of its life to ensure some fresh tasting new growth. It looks a bit severe but new sprouts are already shooting, thank goodness. 
A day flying moth or (maybe?) a chequered skipper


Monday, 12 June 2017

Monday harvest

It astounds me that even my tiny little garden is providing quite this much produce. I harvest at least one "thing" a day, whether it's a small handful of strawberries or a bunch of herbs. In fact, it's only because I hadn't realised how much was ready to eat that I haven't been working out a menu around it. All that changes here. But in the last week we've had strawberries almost every day, herbs and lovely salads filled with pretty nasturtium flowers. How lovely it is to eat food that tastes that fresh and that I actually grew. Watch this space for much more than the below next Monday!



June 5th - Strawberries (£1.80)
June 7th - Strawberries (£1.20)
June 8th - Bunch chives and nasturnium flowers (85p and £1.43 respectively)
June 11th - Strawberries (£0.60) and chives (£0.85)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

How to grow more in a small garden: Building a mobile growing rack

THE GERMINATOR
This is a DIY that not only doesn't take long, it doesn't involve any tools at all and so is something I'm really pleased with. I'm always looking for new spaces to grow things in my garden but short of tine hover boards being invented in the next couple of weeks, I've always despaired at the lack of vertical space on which to hang things. I have a whopping 44 wall planters and hanging baskets and to be frank, I've run out of space to hang them (having been reduced to hanging them from sticks). I don't want to fill the small patio we have with heavy pots because my toddler GarlicBoy needs somewhere to play and we need somewhere to sit. So I started thinking. What if I put some pots on skateboards and just wheeled them about into the house whenever I needed the patio? The idea wasn't entirely ludicrous but it clearly wouldn't be worth the effort for just one pot. And that's when it hit me. A hanging rail! A heavy duty one would provide me with a considerable amount of growing space in the form of four hanging baskets, two large herb planters and a large trough planter and best of all, I could wheel it out of the way in seconds when I needed to use the patio. I think there's space on the market for a proper one of these (I call it "The Germinator", patent pending of course...) as they'd be very useful on balconies as well I should think. \


You will need:
1 heavy-duty hanging rail (check the weight limits) Mine is 3ft long

Heavy duty chains and some steel rope
Various hanging baskets
Two large wall planter bags
One balcony trough planter (designed to sit on a rail)

How to:
1. Put the hanging rail together and, using the steel rope, tie the hanging baskets to the top back to back
2. Slide the chains in between the bags and over the rail so that they hang down and hook the hanging basket hooks through both sides of the chain
3. Put the trough on the base and secure it well (I used electrical tape) to the rail so it doesn't slip off
4. Fill the bags, trough and baskets with whatever you want to grow
Herb bags secured to top of hanging rail

Hanging basket hook threaded through two chain links
I chose to use three of the baskets for hanging tomatoes (something I can never get enough of) and the trough has a couple of dwarf bush cucumbers in it. One of the baskets has a bunch of sacrifice French Marigolds (and another sneaky cucumber) in it and the two huge herb bags have basil and various types of mint respectively. I love growing herbs (hence my vertical garden for them) but I didn't want to use a whole raised bed for mint or basil. This means I get a large enough supply of both without losing a bed I could use for things like squash. 

A side note: the hanging rail is obviously carting quite a lot of weight so do be careful around pets and little people. When our garden is open, my rail is securely wedged in next to the playhouse where my toddler and/or cats can't get to it to pull it over on themselves. 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Hanging baskets when you have nowhere left to hang them from

Poles holding a basket
Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge to the frustrated gardener when regarding their tiny urban garden with critical eyes is a lack of space. I've covered my fences and walls with wall planters, vertical garden planting bags and hung hanging baskets from every single supporting fence post and still I don't think I have enough space. So what to do? Every inch in my raised beds is filled with plants fiercely competing for what is probably too little space already and I don't want to take over our patio or grass patch because I want our toddler to have space to play outside. So they only thing I can do is to wait for someone to invent hovercraft pots that will suspend themselves mid-air. Or, I could be wandering around the garden centre one day and suddenly realise that heavy duty tree supports might just be the answer. 







I planted some hanging baskets up with basil and tumbling tomatoes and hung them from the little hooks on the poles and shoved the poles down into the raised beds in the tiny gaps between plant surrounds. 











"Success!" I thought. Oh, how overconfidence comes before a fallen basket. The puny hooks on the posts were too feeble to hold the weight of a basket of soil in the rain so my mark two version consisted of strapping the hooks back against the poles with heavy duty electrical tape. The poles are leaning slightly but they're still up and the baskets are growing in mid air, taking advantage of growing space that I don't strictly have. Necessity is the mother of invention! (And lust for fresh produce will drive you further than you can imagine).