First Fruits of the Veg Patch

Ok, that title is a little bit misleading: we’ve actually had a selection of lettuce, pak choi, radishes and herbs from our newly created veg patch this year. However, nothing really compares in impressiveness to the courgettes we’ve managed to grow. Here’s my photographic proof:

This is the size at which our first courgette stopped growing, so we decided to pick it. There are currently two more on the plant at about this size, with the potential to get even bigger, as well as a few smaller ones. And this is from a plant that was grown straight from seed in the veg bed, about three months ago, after all the courgette seedlings I tried to grow in the house died off. Impressive stuff!

In the rest of the patch, things aren’t looking quite so impressive, unfortunately. The lettuces, after a large and healthy crop, are starting to look a bit worse for wear. We’ll use as many as we can, but a few may end up on the compost heap. Our garlic plants, which looked so good earlier in the year, are also looking a bit ropey now. As for squashes and ball courgettes: two of the plants are growing well but only have a single squash/courgette on them apiece; the last squash plant is doing much better, with half a dozen slowly growing yellow squashes (I have no idea what variety there are, but they look good).

What have we learned from our veg growing experiment so far? Well, grow courgettes, to start with! I’d be tempted to simply start all my courgettes and squashes outside next year, as they seem to have done better that way. I also think I’d stagger each crop better, perhaps planting only one row of each veg at a time, then planting a second a few weeks later. I’d probably also uproot any veg that isn’t doing well: we’ve tried spinach twice now, and both times it’s been absolutely useless (tall, spindly, tiny leaves), so I should have just pulled it up as soon as I realised it wasn’t doing very well, rather than leaving it a few weeks to see if it would improve (it didn’t).

So far, growing veg has been difficult in some respects and very easy in others – but always interesting. And it’s a real pleasure to be able to eat the results!

Spring has Sprung in the Vegetable Garden

When I last posted photos from our new veg patch, I promised more later in the year, when there was something more to see than a square box of soil. Now that Spring has definitely arrived though, things are starting to grow.

First up are some fledgling chilli plants. We’ve got four of these. Now, these aren’t quite as exciting as some of our other plants, because they were grown from reasonably sized seedlings. Still, they’re quite pretty and growing well.

More exciting though, from my perspective, are the plants that have been grown entirely from seed. Waiting for days, and even weeks, for the first green shoots to push up through the soil just makes the moment when things start growing even more thrilling. It’s been squash and courgette plants that we’ve planted so far, with the squash plants just starting to show their heads in the last couple of days, and the courgettes already looking like this:

Outside, the first shoots of garlic are looking fantastic (no photo of those, I’m afraid, because I couldn’t manage to take any worth showing) and today I’ve planted some pak choi (a type of Chinese cabbage) and radishes, too. Inside, there are yet more squashes to come up (butternut, this time) and a selection of herbs (coriander, basil, oregano). Aside from the courgettes, everything seems to be growing quite slowly at the moment, but as the weather warms up, I’m know that’ll start to change. Unfortunately, that’s also the point when the weeds will start to appear…

Adventures of an Amateur Vegetable Gardener

Somewhere in the mists of time (read: the middle of last year), my partner and I decided we’d like to try growing some of our own vegetables this year. Ok, maybe I decided and my wonderful partner sort of nodded and agreed to help. Now, we’re not entirely newbies when it comes to gardening (or at least I’m not) – I’ve been keeping a selection of houseplants ever since I was little, and we already have a nice little herbaceous border at the bottom of the garden. Vegetables, though… Well, they’re something of a different kettle of fish, so I thought I’d post about our progress this summer and see what we’ve achieved by the end of it.

The fun really started about a month ago, when my parents arrived, tools and large pieces of timber in tow. Over the course of an afternoon, they built this:

This is our raised veg patch, or will be. It’s absolutely as big as we could fit into the space, about 4m by just under 2m. It’s also probably twice as deep as it needed to be, and looks a bit like a major piece of civil engineering, but at least it should be sturdy. You can see our much less sturdy shed behind – should one of the two ever take-off in high winds, it’s NOT going to be the raised bed.

The next stage, of course, is to fill it with soil. Which is where this comes in:

These are the three bags, each weighing a tonne, of fresh topsoil that arrived this morning, courtesy of a large truck and truly the biggest forklift I’ve ever seen. Only one problem now remains: the soil is at the front of the house. The vegetable patch is at the back.

At this point, it’s probably redundant to mention what we’re going to be doing this weekend. Suffice to say, it will include a wheelbarrow, as many shovels as we can lay our hands on and, by Monday, a lot of sore muscles. Wish us luck!