Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Vegetable Garden

We're very fortunate that our vegetable garden is on a slope with a southeasterly aspect, so it benefits from the sun almost all day. When we built the house, this area was a mass of brambles and bracken, and these constantly try to invade from the surrounding croft land.

By terracing the hillside, we were able to gather the thin but fertile soil to provide some depth to the beds. We imported some soil and, each year, a very kind crofter brings us a load of seaweed. We've also dug in the produce of six constantly active compost bins.

We persuaded a very disgruntled Orchy the springer spaniel to model the last of our winter cabbages. In addition to cabbage, we are currently growing broccoli, sprouts, kale, onions, shallots, carrots, parsnips, swede, turnips, potatoes, salad leaves, lettuce, rocket, radishes, spring onions, leeks, french and broad beans, peas, mange-tout, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and, in the greenhouse, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and, in the herb line, parsley, chives, fennel, savoury, mint and dill.

We keep trying new things. I told Mrs Diary that garlic didn't stand a chance in this climate, with the usual results. The sweet peppers she grew last year, which I told her were a waste of space, are producing a second crop this year. Some things we've tried really don't do well, runner beans being an example.

Most of our crops seem to be thriving despite the cool, damp weather of recent weeks. The exceptions are the strawberries, which haven't been helped by the gluttony of a family of blackbirds, and the raspberries, which have so far produced the most disappointing crop for years. Sadly, the loss of these crops will have ongoing effects, as they are made into jam which lasts us through the winter months.

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