How does your garden grow?

Barely at all, frankly. Our back garden is mostly terracotta tiles with a border of bed, a disused pond and flowers in garish shades of pink and orange as beloved by the previous owner. It’s dominated by an overgrown bay tree that desperately needs to be cut back by half. Although without any input from us, the apple tree had beautiful blossom this year and the pear tree looks good too, so fingers crossed for another good crop this year.

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The histamine plan is… flexible, let’s say. I do think it’s helping but god, it’s hard. And I get bored of it really easily and just want to eat chocolate. Not terribly helpful. But I am coughing less.

Yet again this year I am banging on about wanting to grow vegetables in the garden. Foolhardy? Undoubtedly. There are days I don’t manage to brush my hair due to demands of the small child so weeding and watering a mini-allotment is going to be interesting. But as even things like bagged salad do seem to set me off coughing, there’s never been a better time to try growing some veg here.

I aim to start small, with four 35cm square planters and two hanging baskets. I’d like strawberries and tomatoes in the baskets and cut-and-come-again lettuce and perhaps courgettes in the planters, plus herbs I think. Any suggestions on what varieties to try? I’m kind of tempted to offer one planter up to Meantime Brewery for their True Brew of London which I think is a genius idea of theirs.

They’ve planted hops in royal parks and gardens all over London, including grand institutions like the Natural History Museum and Battersea Power Station, and lots of pubs are participating too. I think the closest growing stations to us are the View Tube at the Olympic Park and Waitrose in Stratford. The hops will be harvested in September and then dried. After that they are mixed with malt, yeast and water and left to mature, to be ready for drinking at the end of the year. Given that hops are perennials, I presume they could make this year after year?

I’ve just realised that May is marching onwards so hopefully we’ll actually get to a garden centre somewhere to get some plants before it’s too late to sow them.  Any advice for a first-time, time-poor veggie grower?

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5 thoughts on “How does your garden grow?

  1. Good luck with the veg growing! Go for it; prepare yourself for both triumph and disaster and you can’t go far wrong.

    This is my first year with an allotment and I’m embracing the opportunity to make mistakes, fail and learn to kill plants in wonderful new ways. I’m not a new gardener, but am a fairly bad one. Happily, my plot came with some (indestructible) fruit bushes and rhubarb, and enough rampant peppermint to keep me in daily cups of digestion-settling tea for the year – which crop alone pays for the price of the plot without my lifting a finger, I reassure myself.

    But the best part is the social nature of the exercise; you talk with your neighbours, commiserate over the weather, share seeds, surplus crops and tools. I hadn’t really anticipated this element, but it’s great. I don’t know if you’ve applied for an allotment, but it’s really worth doing; waiting lists being what they are, by the time you get one your little one might well be in school and you’ll have a little more time.

    • Funnily enough, the little man who sold us this house had an allotment on the site behind our house. Rather brilliantly, he put a backdoor in the shed which led directly out to his plot! We decided not to apply for one then (which I kind of regret) but the boy has kept me sooo busy. But a good friend has just applied for that particular allotment and I think she might be up for sharing it…

  2. I’d say definitely go for gardener’s delight on the tomatoes, not sure if they’ll work in hanging baskets? But check – had great success with those a few years in a row now, produces absolutely loads of sweet cherry tomatoes. In a not-perfectly sunny climate like London (or Vancouver, for that matter), it’s best to go for the cherry varieties as fruit is likely to be sweeter. For the lettuce, I like Lolla Rosso I think it’s called, a nice loose leafy one, light green with reddish accents. You’ll laugh, when Elliot was tiny, I had this terrible cold, and I was so fed up with being inside and doing nothing I went out to our raised bed, literally threw the seeds over an expanse of ground, vaguely messed up the dirt afterward, dumped a watering can over and it and never went near it until it was a field of lettuce a few weeks later. It’s that easy. 😉

    • That sounds like my kind of gardening! I just want to have something grow in the garden, just one or two things for the first year. I’ve long threatened to do it… now just need to book a zipcar to go to the garden centre and buy some plants! Online shopping has actually failed me on this one.

      • I used to get seedlings from Vegetable Plants Direct (wouldn’t let me post URL) through the post. Most of them worked! Though lettuces are not worth buying in seedling form, they grow so fast. Our kale has grown like crazy this year.

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