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The Garden – 2011

The garden has been a bit different this year. The harsh winter killed a great deal of our crops leaving the garden really rather desolate after the thaw. Then we thought we were going to move house (the less I talk about this the better) so we were late planting this year’s crops. Read the rest of this entry

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Blooming Baskets

Hanging baskets don’t have the best reputation. They can sometimes be considered naff with their garish trails of bright flowers that sometimes look like they have been thrown together (don’t get me started on their fake counterparts) but you don’t have to plant your hanging baskets with pansies and fuchsias; All of the baskets in our back garden contain either fruit or vegetables. Planting fruit and vegetables in hanging baskets can be a great way of growing-your-own in limited space.

Tomatoes – This was the the first vegetable we attempted to grow in baskets and the Tombling Tom variety works best. Just be careful of blight which can ruin your whole crop.

Strawberries – We’ve planted many varieties over the years and all have worked well apart from the white alpine strawberries we tried last year. The advantages of growing strawberries in hanging baskets is that they are not as accessible to pests (apart from birds) and because they are hanging the you don’t get the problem of the strawberries going soggy on the ground. To help protect the strawberries from birds cover the plants in netting.

Pea shoots – Last year discovered this gem and I have Alys Fowler to thank. You don’t need fancy peas from the garden centre. Plain and simple Bigga dried peas from the supermarket will work just as well. You simply sprinkle the peas over the soil and cover with a thin layer of soil and keep watered.You are able to grow them in baskets as you are literally harvesting the plants for their leaves rather than the peas. You can however transplant the plants once they have grown too much for the basket and grow in to fully fledged pea plants.

Salad leaves – Perfect as they are literally cut and come again. I prefer to use packets of mixed salad leaves for variety. Growing salad leaves is far easier than buying packets from the shops as in our case we struggle to get through a packet of ready prepped salad before it goes off.

Herbs – Most herbs that don’t grow too tall like mint and thyme work well in hanging baskets.

When growing in hanging baskets make sure the basket is well drained but also don’t get waterlogged. We usually line our basket frames with a husk/moss layer (watch the birds pick this out during the nesting season) then a thin plastic layer with a few holes to allow the water the drain through. Also balance the baskets on a bucket to stop them rolling around while trying to fill them with the compost.

Have you tried growing anything unusual in hanging baskets?

Garden Update – August ’10

There has been a definite theme for this month in the garden – rain and more rain. While this means the BBQ and Tandoor have been left unused it does mean the garden is beautiful and lush. August has really been the peak for crops in the garden with peas being by far the best crop this year closely followed by the beetroot. The various types of carrots we’ve grown have also fared well being grown in old floristry buckets. We harvested the first of the white pattypan last night and when roasted they are delicious and have an almost buttery taste. The plant has been more manageable that the Blue Ballet Squashes from a few years back. I’m not the biggest fan of squashes but this is one that will not end up in a cake! The alpine strawberries are very slowly getting there.

Somehow I’ve managed to kill my Borage plant. Yes the plant that runs rampant in the majority of places I’ve managed to kill. It shot up impressively, bloomed a few flowers but then the remaining buds never opened, the plant turned yellow and keeled over. I’m not sure if the plant just felt swamped in the big pot with the other herbs.

After 3 years of planting sweetcorn we’ve given up as our garden just isn’t suited to them. The Romanesco is getting savaged by caterpillars and there is no sign of the beautiful bright fractal covered vegetable but we’re not going to give up on it. Oh, and the less we talk about Asparagus Peas the better. On the brighter side the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is looking good and should bring some much needed colour in the winter months.

The harvest from the garden is slowly coming to an end and it is being cleared ready for some winter crops. I’m always surprised as to what we manage to achieve from such a small plot. While we are not self-sufficient it has certainly cut down on the amount of veg we’ve had to buy. Nothing is as good as eating freshly picked peas or carrots.

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