Last year, for the very first year, my experimental gardening resulted in some actually edible fruit and veg. We had strawberries through the summer, beans on into the autumn, and the garlic and onions kept us going in home-grown all the way until the first touches of winter. There was no way that I wasn’t going to try again this year; I’ve been well and truly bitten by the grow-your-own bug.
Last year our two little veg beds were affectionately known as the Pocket Handkerchief Garden, because as veggie gardens go, especially ones supposed to be supplying a family of five, it was really teeny tiny. This year though I think we’re going to need a new name, because as I filled up one bed with garlic and two colours of onions at the end of last year, and weeded and replanted the blackcurrant bush and the strawberries in the other bed it was clear that we were going to need more space. And by we, we mean me, and possibly Pip, who I think would rank playing in the soil right up there on his top 5 things to do at the weekend.
So this weekend we roused H from his post-race snooze, told him that even a new PB was not getting him out of helping, and set out to expand the garden just a little. The aim is that this year we will at least double the growing space; we’ve bought two new beds, and I can easily see us adding in a third, or possibly just sinking a bean and pea wigwam into the lawn to make a little edible tent for the children. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It turns out that constructing veg beds, digging up the turf and underestimating how much extra soil you will need to fill them, takes a lot longer than you’d think and so our progress from Sunday is just the one extra bed. But it’s in, despite tree roots, it’s got some lovely new soil dug into our existing mud, and it’s even planted up.
This years’ seeds have been sat on the dresser for a few weeks now, waiting for their new homes. All seeds for things we eat, and things that should grow well and grow easily (I hope); carrots, parsnips, beans, peas and spinach, as well as a couple of packets of wild flowers that were just too pretty for anyone to resist and will go to join out butterfly and bee haven in the back garden. The new veg garden bed has got parsnips at the south end (Albion F1) and three rows of Amethyst purple french beans at the north end, which I hope will taste as nice as they look, and after that the bed was full up.
It made me wonder how much of anything everyone else plants. I’ve always sown all the seeds in the packet because my success rate is so very (very very very) low, so sowing everything I’ve got means that I might at least get something, but do people who actually know what they’re doing just sow half a packet and save the rest until next year rather than risk a glut?
Hopefully we’ll get the other bed made up sometime in the next few weeks and then the carrots and spinach and peas can get to growing. I really want to try courgettes again this year, I’ve not quite given up on them, but I think I need to give them a bit more space, which makes that third new bed look increasingly likely, unless they’d like growing in a nice big flowerpot all to themselves.
But if I’m going to go all out and have five veggie beds then it really really isn’t pocket handkerchief sized any more – what do you call a ‘used to be pocket sized but now keeps getting bigger with every leap of my imagination’ garden?
The Growing Garden?