Friday, 22 May 2015

Vegetable Gardening

Our vegetable garden lies on what was once croft land. Behind it, the land rises to the common grazings. When we started to create the garden we terraced it, at first really professionally (and expensively) using breeze blocks - simply because I had never built a wall and felt that it was something I ought to try - later using odd pieces of planking. The soil from the paths between each terrace was piled into the beds before pavings were laid, giving us a reasonable depth of soil.  Each year we piled the compost we'd made back into the beds, and added an annual dose of seaweed.

We're total amateurs when it comes to vegetable gardening. Each year we buy our seeds from Lidl or Morrisons, follow the instructions on the packet, take some advice from Hessayon's books, and hope for the best. Some things have been miserable failures: runner beans, parsnips, rhubarb. Others have exceeded our dreams. We now grow raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, peas, dwarf beans, broad beans, radishes, lettuces & salad leaves, rocket, leeks, onions, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach and courgettes; and, in the greenhouse, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.

We're fortunate that the pests largely leave us alone. We have problems with snails and slugs, the gooseberries, if we don't watch them, get stripped by sawfly larvae, and something is currently eating our new crop of radishes. The cages visible in this photo aren't to keep the birds off. In general, they're so well fed that they haven't room for vegetables - the one exception being that the blackbirds do eat some of the raspberry and strawberry crops. No, the cages are to keep our two cats off newly-sown seeds and seedlings.

Our greatest problem is the weather. The long, wet winter of 2014/15 put everything back by months, so we're still eating the leeks and broccoli that we should have been enjoying in January and February; and this year's new crops are coming on dreadfully slowly, little wonder when yesterday's maximum temperature was 11C.

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