Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In an English urban garden ...

It's almost a year since Emma Darwin transformed my life by offering to allow me to use her garden as an allotment.  I thought I'd share the highs and lows of a very productive and satisfying few months.

Successes

Broad beans were the first to appear and I was so excited that I forgot they were broad beans and picked the whole pods and steamed them.  They were delicious, but the real things, once I'd allowed them to mature, were better still.

Spinach.  This has gone on and on for months.  I pick it as I need it; sweet young leaves for using raw in salads and iron-rich mature leaves for mixing into risotto, curry or just as a steamed vegetable.


Onions.  Very satisfying to watch them grow.  Even more satisfying to eat them.  I'm planning on planting lots more this time.

Garlic.  As above re onions.

Tomatoes. A veritable forest!  Sweet and juicy - essence of tomato-ness.

Potatoes.  Harvested some and I'm leaving the rest in the ground until needed.

Rocket.  Peppery gorgeousness - and self-seeding too.  Can't ask for more than that.

Butternut squash.  Not ripe yet but I've got my eye on them.  Love the way they take over such a vast space - like benevolent squatters.

 Apples.  I can't lay claim to anything other than collecting them and distributing them far and wide.  There are still several carrier bags filled with them sitting in my kitchen.  Apple pie, anyone?  Crumble?  Cake?  Juice?

Partial successes

Lettuce.  I had one fab crop but word must have gone out to the South London slug and snail community.  They nabbed the next plantings as soon as they raised their delicate little green heads.

Purple sprouting broccoli.  Only three seedlings survived the invasion of the slimy ones.  I've sprayed them with an eco confection and hope they make it to maturity.

Compost.  The bin is full and not a particularly pleasant sight (or smell TBH) but it will be worthwhile if it produces enough compost for all the plots.

Failures

Subsequent lettuce and other salad crops (see above).

Having, with great pride and excitement, constructed a fabulous set of interlinked bamboo canes to support the 50+ runner bean seeds I planted, you can imagine my disappointment when the slimies ate the whole lot. 

They also scoffed all the pak choi.


Spending time in the garden, sun on my back, pottering, pulling up weeds and tying up tomatoes, has given me enormous amounts of pleasure.  It's enabled me to get away from the computer, chill out and get some good honest dirt under my nails. 

Emma - you've made a nought-but-a-balcony woman very happy indeed.  Thank you!



 

9 comments:

Queenie said...

How fabulous! You might have more luck with runner beans if you start them in pots, and grow them as big as you can before you put them in the ground. Also, a ring of broken eggshells, coffee grounds and/or gravel round the base of each seedling, as soon as you plant them out, helps to deter the slugs while they get growing. N goes out at night and hunts them down and chops them up with scissors!!! but I can't bear to do that, too yukky, beer traps for me then at least they die happy!

Debi said...

Chops them with scissors? Eeeuuuw - that's gross. I used the beer traps in my old co-op garden before we moved here. Trouble is none of us drink beer and the thought of buying some specially for the slimeballs is taking kindness too far I think.

Rachael Dunlop said...

It's clearing out the beer traps I have a problem with - pickled slugs are even slimier that live ones. I used nemotodes this year - for the first time in three years my hostas survived long enough to flower.

Whisks said...

Shall I bring my chickens round? They love slugs and snails - I have hardly any S&S, these days. Sadly they also love fresh green salad leaves, but there's a compromise to be made, isn't there?

SpiralSkies said...

Pickled slugs could become a delicacy with a little subtle marketing, no?

Actually, buying them beer does sound as if it would encourage their teenage habits of gorging on everything edible. Perhaps they would teach you some good swear words while they're partying?

Sue Guiney said...

Yes, us city girls...one of the great pleasures of my summers is going to our coop farm (affectionately called "the commies") and picking my own beans,tomatoes etc. I don't do the farming bit, though - that's really hard work.

Debi said...

Rachael - I'm determined to stick to lorghanic methods and pay the pickling price.

Whisks - yes! We could put them on leashes and pull them away from the green shoots. Sorted.

Spiral - tee hee - sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll for slugs. Let them party. And then die.

Sue - that sounds great. Though I love being involved in the whole process, picking and eating food that I planted from seed. Magic!

Alice Turing said...

I think I ought to have know this... but somehow the fact that Emma was letting you use her garden as an allotment had passed me by. What a marvellous arrangement! It's making me think... because I have quite a sizable garden, but no time to do any work in it... so all I need to do is find a friendly local author who needs some occupational therapy, and Bob's yer lettuce.

I have a friend who is an occupational therapist who says his biggest piece of OT advice to all people in all circs is to do some gardening. It's certainly perked me up when I've tried it. It's finding the time that's the problem. [sigh]

Debi said...

Yes, Alice, finding time is always tricky and I tend to plant things late. There's nothing like eating food you've grown from seed though.