Summer’s coming

Everyone has a summer they want to remember I have loads of things I could write my first substantive blog post on. Many of these things are negative, or at least the inspiration for the topics are brought about by an adverse reaction to something.

Whilst I can be critical of much, I wouldn’t describe myself as a person with a negative attitude. It will, however, take a fair amount my creative powers to turn some of my ideas into posts that inspire, rather than fill with dread.

Fear not, this post is all about looking forward with huge amounts of excitement. Summer’s coming!

Yes, I realise it’s still January, but I finished work half an hour early on a Friday and last Friday just happened to be one of those days when you notice that the evenings are starting to get lighter. Add to that two wonderfully bright and cheery weekend days and your mind starts to think about getting out in the garden. Well mine does.

building siteLast years efforts were late, unplanned and very, very lucky. I only have a small back garden. When I took it over it was just dense, overgrown grass and tired, shabby concrete. The house was bought in November and the garden quickly became a dumping ground for building waste.

I didn’t get a chance to start any real garden work until mid April, once all the rubbish had been shifted. I didn’t really have a plan. I just sort of made it up.

After clearing, burning and digging over, I set aside the larger area for raised beds, but as all of my money had gone on the house, these had to wait until this year.

Beds, year oneI roughly marked out four beds, guesstimated a rotation plan and chucked stuff in the ground as fast as I could, whilst simultaneously working on the house.

I should probably say now that I am not an expert in growing veg. I do have extensive experience of running various, badly managed allotments that I never quite had time to keep and I’ve also read lots of books and seed catalogues about growing vegetables, organic gardening, bed systems and kitchen gardening. I love the thought of being completely self sufficient and dining everyday on fantastically fresh, wholesome, organic produce. The reality is that it does take some effort and I’d need a lot more space than I have at the moment.

Nevermind. It’s also fun and anyone can do it.

So anyway, last year I managed to grow (mostly from seed):

  • Rainbow chard (beautiful and delicious)
  • Perpetual spinach (easy and plentiful)
  • Courgettes (far, far too many, taking up too much space)
  • Corn (failed)
  • Pumpkin (Marina di Chioggia, two, one went off before I could eat it)
  • Cucumber (slow growing and not many fruits)
  • Lettuce (quick growing and surprisingly, survived my vast slug population)
  • Rocket (various types, including an amazing large leaved variety)
  • Radish (intercropped before carrots, very quick growing)
  • Carrots (very slow, a bit hit and miss)
  • Parsnip (epic fail)
  • Onions (from sets bought from Wilko’s, planted far too late)
  • Garlic (from www.organiccatalogue.com, planted far too late)
  • Potatoes (from various small seed packs from Wilko’s
  • Tomatoes (plants given to me by my neighbour, who works in a local DIY/garden store)
  • Kale (again, given to me, but planted late)
  • Spring cabbage (as per kale)

yellow chardNot bad for a first year. I tried some herbs, which didn’t do so good, and I have a tub of mint that comes back each year. I also have a small cherry tree that currently lives in an old washing machine drum, which I managed to get a pie out of and some raspberry plants that I rescued from my last allotment that produced some fruits this year.

At the very least, I cleared the whole area of weeds, which in itself is a feat. This’ll give me a good advantage this year.

So there you go. Now I’ve got a whiff of Summer, I have to start planning. I’ll be using this blog as a kind of planner, but also a record or what I do so that I can learn from it.

If I’ve got you even just a little bit excited, why not look at the ridiculous amount of photos I took of my first gardening year?

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