I love growing veggies. I’ll never forget the first year that I grew 5 courgette plants in a sun blessed garden and a friend gave me 8 tomato plants. Himself is only just coming back round to considering courgettes acceptable on his plate after 3 months of me sneaking them into almost every meal.
Since we moved here we’ve had less luck. The garden is North facing and there’s only a small vegetable patch. I’ve tried growing tomatoes in pots and got lots of green ones that never ripen. My butternut squash have failed every year. The courgettes have done OK and I’ve discovered that cucumbers work surprisingly well.
However, here we are in mid-July and everything’s looking really rather good so far. I need to recruit one of our neighbour’s kids to water everything while we away for a couple of weeks, but I’m feeling good about this year’s overall harvest.
I’m a total convert to growing cucumbers, they’re so easy (when the frost doesn’t get them!) and we seem to get loads of fruit from them. We’ve had one already and there are loads of little ones on two plants in my vegetable bed – you don’t even need a greenhouse. The first one was delicious and I suspect our neighbours are going to enjoy several more in a few weeks.
I have had terrible experiences growing tomatoes. There was lots of green tomato chutney one year because they just fruited so late and then never ripened. Other times, I’ve had black spots grow all across the fruit and we’ve just thrown them all away. I said this year would be my last year trying them. I bought more expensive seeds and it was worth the investment. I have two plants I started at the back of the house in a grow bag and they’re looking very happy with loads of fruit. The other three I started at the front and for some reason they weren’t as happy so I’ve moved them to the back too, not as many fruit and the plants don’t look very happy but still better than I’ve had in the past!
I love courgettes (zucchini), particularly yellow ones with a lovely nutty taste and which you cannot buy in most shops here. I put them in everything I can get away with.
I got them going early this year and they were taking over my office windowsill, so I planted them out only for the frost to return in May and ruin all the plants. So I started over with just two and they’re looking very happy indeed! We’ve already had three courgettes in our dinners in the last week and there are loads more coming.
I’ve never grown peas before, but small boy wanted to give them a go – probably he wants to be able to just nip into the garden for a snack if I know him. We just planted 8 peas in a tub and they’ve been so easy to grow and look after. The flowers came last week and there are some pods swelling already (they’re looking better than the picture already, just 24 hours later). I wonder if I’ll manage to get any to cook with or whether they’ll just disappear into a certain someone’s mouth?
I grow various herbs that I rely on to look after themselves: mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley and oregano. The oregano I don’t use in my cooking so much, but I love it for the pretty flowers and because the bees love it so much. I sat and watched the plants for 5 minutes one day and spotted at least 4 species of bee.
I haven’t tried growing sweetcorn (maize) in several years, in a previous house I had a big garden with a sunny vegetable patch and managed to get about 8 cobs one year. Here I had 5 seedlings, of which one was too battered by storms to survive. They’re in my front garden in a new raised bed, a bit shady but getting sun in the morning and lots of water every day. Each plant has 2 cobs growing, so I’m hopeful that we’ll enjoy them on the barbecue when we get home from our 2 weeks away in August.
Raspberries and Strawberries
Well, again this is small boy’s pet project. He wanted raspberries, blueberries and blackberries; I already had some feral strawberries in the back garden. So when I saw Tesco selling stems I bought some – not the best quality for gardening stuff and plants I know, but we were still in lockdown and convenience was rather important. We put them all in at the right time and the blackberry plant played dead for a couple of months, the blueberry plant looks happy but hasn’t had any flowers. The raspberries were much happier but the bees beat me to the three fruit they produced. The feral strawberries did really well and I managed to rescue 10 strawberries before the local blackbirds helped themselves – sorry, no photos, I ate them.
I’d better confess that I didn’t grow my sweet peas from seed. I think I will another year because my pea plants were so easy. I’m not sure sweet peas count as veggies really, but they are in amongst that part of the garden and they’re so pretty and smell amazing (no one ever said “smelly socks” meant stinky and bad smelling). I’ve not been picking them to put them in vases, but sitting on the patio in or just brushing past them as I water everything is an utter sensory pleasure.
Last but not least, the sunflowers. I’ve got some dwarf ones in a pot and small boy has one that he brought home from school growing in the bed. However, after a weekend away, I had to laugh at these ones. It seems the birds have been sowing their seed mix in my hanging basket!
I can’t wait to be able to eat many of these things (well, at least the bits that the birds haven’t helped themselves to anyway).
How are your gardens and balconies doing? Are your veggies starting to be ready?