Monday, 11 April 2011

Even longer time no see.

Again, was severely embarrassed to be writing a blog that only one of my friends had set to following (thanks Bert) but I feel the need to update as I now have another friend and a very cool lady who I've been following for about a year now The Frugal Queen has very kindly become a follower too. Now this very smart lady has inspired me to turn my back on my spend spend spend habit.

What happened last year:

Tomatoes grew and grew and tiny little fruit appeared but right near the end of the season. It was recommended that I bring them in a ripen them indoors. Much strategic banana placing ensued and tomatoes stayed resolutely green. Then I read about wrapping in newspaper and putting tomatoes in a dark cupboard. Eventually I remembered they were there a few weeks later, and by now were underneath some cans for some reason (of plum tomatoes no less) and they were indeed almost red. Huzzah! Tasted of watery grey though... boo!

The peppers which were growing quite happily in the other grow bags bore teeny tiny fruit but again right at the end of season so they did not prosper but made wonderful food for the insects that decided to snack on them and the bags fantastic digging plots for one of the many creatures that frequent our garden.

The pumpkin made a wonderful soup. Yes I actually GREW SOMETHING! Almost didn't get to eat this if I hadn't had a brainwave and checked to see if you could get small white pumpkins. Found a wonderful white pumpkin and coconut soup recipe and there we go - success!

We did get potatoes too but they weren't anyway near as nice as the ones we've had elsewhere. However in this process I have learnt two things. We can grow potatoes and we prefer a waxy variety. I am thus chitting some waxy seed potatoes for this year.

Herbs have been fine and we have liked the fact that we can just pop outside for fresh herbs.

This post has been a long time coming so where are we now?

It's pretty clear that out garden is now a shady garden due to the large tree that is creating a canopy along with our actual home over the garden. I know that herbs have grown with no problem in our shady bit of land. Potatoes will be fine and it's a surprise that any tomatoes grew considering what I now know about growing them in shade and just how badly I grew them.

My future sister in law and her husband visited and helped us clear up the mess that had occurred over winter and gave us some solid advice. I took this away with me and after my usual amount of head-hurty research (that makes me panic more I fear) I rushed out a quick plan for our garden. I was really struggling with this but next thing I knew not only did I have a fairly solid plan but I had noted sun times, shade times and heat times. I have noticed that I am more likely to get things done when I stop thinking. I think what made me switch my brain off for a second was strangely enough a wonderful bit of planting advice that popped up in a gardening programme that I was watching. It was such an amazing, Mother-Nature-in-action bit of information that I couldn't help but stop 'thinking' - probably the sudden realisation that Mother Nature is the one in control and not me so why worry and just see what Mother Nature does why don't ya. The section of the programme that peeked my interest was about Three Sisters planting which was developed by the Mayans - check this out.

Friday night I coerced a very grumpy boyfriend to help me sow seeds and chuck Growmore everywhere in preparation for seedlings and starting the lawn again with a shady lawns seed mixture. Then Saturday I popped to the pound stores and got the rest of the seeds I wanted including what we needed for Three Sisters planting plus lettuces etc.

I've been watching re-runs of Groundforce and all the other new gardening programmes that have been cropping up on the TV and I have bought the odd book to help me. Not very frugal I know but unfortunately I need something solid to follow.

I really want a better stab at this, this year. In particular with lettuces as that's where we spend a huge amount of money for the leaf and herb salads we prefer over the cheaper more economical iceberg etc. Obviously fresh herbs will save us money even though i've got quite good at buying fresh bunches from the Mediterranean shop and freezing. They rarely have coriander when I pop in so I really want to get that growing this year. We have two pots sown waiting to sprout so fingers crossed.

I would also like an attractive garden this year. Luckily in my research I have found out just how beautiful vegetables and fruits are when growing. The broad bean my friend gave me before Xmas, not only survived the snow but is growing quite happily in the ground and has produced the most beautiful black and white flowers. I truly thought I would need to grow actual flowers to get beauty but now I will be picking flowers for permaculture reasons, yes I am getting professional and will be planting flowers to attract wildlife to keep my produce pest free - I'm actually starting to understand what I read this year.

The garden is in a bit of a state so when I look at it I do lose heart and I truly hope I don't have to do this alone with my shakey enthusiasm. I hope that boyfriend will get lively for it too.

We're having a lot of work done on our flat this year and my hopes are that we will have everything tied up by October. I would really love to actually sit out in my garden at least once this year as so far all we have done is enter it for hanging up washing, or grabbing the odd herb or something. I dream of having my breakfast out there on my lovely bistro set and having a bbq one warm evening. No it won't be sunny, but it will hopefully be leafy and flowery and scented and all mine.

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