Growing Green Fingers...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

To offset my ranting over the last few days, I will show you some vegetable wonders of the world... We have had so much rain in the last few weeks, I haven't had to water the garden, so I haven't really been taking time to look at what's been going on. The mornings of sitting out in the sun drinking my coffee have gone and the paddling pool has been put away. 
Has summer gone so soon?

Before we set off on our weekends away, there was nothing but a few flowers on the french beans. Now miraculously we have 6 inches of superfine legumes to be proud of...

The peppers are popping up quite nicely, but the slugs and baby snails have had a field day...

We've had the last of the lettuce now, but the cherry tomatoes are still giving us some sweet little gifts of juiciness...

We haven't had much of a harvest in our first attempt at growing vegetables, mainly because of the lack of space in the yard and because I haven't been able to afford to buy or find any larger pots or compost to repot the things that need more nourishment. I guess if we could compost our waste somehow it would make a huge difference to what we could grow.

I haven't used any kind of plant food because I don't want to get into buying organic food in plastic bottles that won't be available in India. When the time comes I will research homemade organic plant feeds in more depth.

The experiments in sowing and growing have been great fun and very challenging. The satisfaction I have felt seeing and eating something I made happen is unbelievably addictive.
I knew from the start that things would go wrong and I have been happy to learn from my mistakes.

What I have learnt:

  • Always use clean soil, to avoid diseases such as 'damping off'. At the very beginning I used some pebbles from the garden to help with drainage in my pots... big mistake! The seedlings and soil went mouldy and developed a green 'dew drop' disease over the surface.
  • Watering should be done from below to avoid 'drowning' the seeds before they germinate.
  • Water regularly to avoid 'bolting' of seedlings. If the tray gets too dry the seedlings will bolt up and grow too quickly.
  • Carrots need to be thinned out when they are quite small, otherwise the leaves get too tangled to easily be pulled.
  • Slugs love my strawberries!

What we have grown:

  • Baby leaf lettuce - lots of it.
  • Rocket - lots more.
  • Courgettes - very small ones due to small pots, but very tasty too. About 10 in total.
  • Tomatoes - cherry, we've eaten about 20 so far.
  • French beans - about 20 on the plant, I may use them tonight.
  • Peas - haven't done so well because they were in the same pot as the beans, which have won the battle.
  • Peppers - the pots are too small so I'm not expecting much.
  • Potatoes - an experiment with a few Tesco Value chits! Watered by the bathroom sink, that needs a proper drainage pipe. I planted 6 in a recycling box, too many in a small space, they grew too tall and fell over before they flowered. I had a look and found lots of potatoes but they had a white speckled disease. I just wanted to see how they grew really.
  • Cucumber - still growing, but the same pot issue, they are looking a bit small and wobbly.
  • Spring onions - from sets, lovely in our salads.
  • Coriander - loads of it.

So all in all I'm very happy with the dabbling in 'Green fingered magic' ... The most important thing I have learned is that preparation is the key to success. The heart of any garden is in the soil. Good soil means healthy plants. When we buy some land I will probably spend the first year just building up a good supply of compost and making some raised beds to ensure the nutrients are properly distributed. I'm also going to look into irrigation systems involving greywater

I'm excited about learning more of crop rotation, companion planting and moon planting. So if any of you have ideas, links or posts about these, I'd love to hear from you.

One of my favourite garden blogs in India (in fact it's the only one I've found!) is India Garden. She doesn't grow vegetables but her photos are always so inspiring. 

I can't wait to get started now!


Sharon J said...

I'm sooooo looking forward to getting started on growing some veg in pots next year. My daughter's boyfriend's going to clear the garden a bit for me so that the pots won't get bogged down by weeds so with any luck, I'll be writing a post like yours in a year's time.

Shame about the spuds. I thought of planting potatoes in an old tin bath but from your experience, do you think that'd be too small? If not, how many do you think would fit in? Experimenting is all part of the fun, isn't it?

emmani said...

Hi Sharon,
That's one of the problems I had, so many other plants and weeds were like a bridge for all the slugs and snails. One tip for strawberries is to grow them in a hanging basket. A tin bath would be perfect, just don't put too many in, I'd say 6 to be safe, 3 in a grow bag and 3 in a recycling box. Each one needs at least a square foot and you'll get lots of potatoes. Keep piling up the soil/compost over the shoots as well.

It is fun though!

PG said...

wow! The beans look amazing. And the bell peppers! Thank you so much for such good tips and links too.
I also plan to do a bit more in my "kitchen garden" next year. This time, my first timer too, I just had some radishes (now for that one really doesn't need to do much!) And here in Hamburg, the climate is just like at your place - rainy, cloudy, and every drop of sunshine is God's gift!
But, I am actually getting so many tomatoes, my very first ever. But, that's it too.

Grumpy Green Old Man said...

Hi, nice blog site. I have a couple of gardening tips that I have learnt through trial and error. You may not want them but here they are any way. Stagger your planting so your harvest doesn't happen all at once (I planted lettuce, went on holiday then came back to a sea of lettuce that would have fed an army). Slugs - got this from an old gardener - sink plastic yogurt pots in the soil with a bit of beer in - slugs love it, drown in the beer but die happy. Also slugs and snails dont like rough surfaces so put a layer of coconut bark down.

Hope your dream move goes well for you.

Grumpy Green Old Man

emmani said...

Good luck PG... it's just wonderful to experiment and don't expect too much! Oh for the love of the good old english weather!

Thanks GGOM,
Ditto with the lettuce!
I heard about the beer thing, I'm not sure I like the idea of slug soup!
Fab idea for coco husks...I'll use that one, it will look nice and natural too, I love natural, I love wood (I know it's not really wood) and I love brown! I don't particularly love slugs either!
Cheers for the tips...