In December 2012 I wrote my first blog for Thompson & Morgan, all about my first year as a grower of vegetables. Time has passed by rapidly and I have learnt so much in the past 18 months as a beginner gardener. I thought it was time to tell you more about what I have been up too.
Season two began slowly, the spring of 2013 was really cold and stuff just wouldn’t grow. After learning a few things the previous season, I didn’t plant carrots or parsnips. I just couldn’t handle the worry of carrot fly and forking. I wanted to enjoy the garden as well as eat my produce.
Another change in 2013, I gave up one of my beds for flowers. I love flowers and for many years bought huge numbers from supermarkets or anywhere else I saw them. They were always lovely, but I was aware that they were not “just cut”, they had probably been heavily treated with chemicals. I wanted fresh, scented, cut that morning flowers, so I decided to try and grow some for myself.
Season two progressed nicely but it was not without its problems. One glaring mistake caused much merriment for lots of people all over the summer. Early in the year I sat with my T&M catalogue and picked the things I wanted to grow. I love courgettes, but they tend to take over, wherever you planted them. I spotted some that you could train and decided they were the perfect variety for me “Black Forest”. I built, what later became dubbed “The Leaning Tower of Barton” out of bamboo canes and collected my plants from the greenhouse.
Now in my defence I will say that most squash plants look the same until they produce something. I happily planted my three courgette plants around the tower and began to train them upwards. They grew rapidly and soon flowers were appearing and then I could see the courgettes themselves beginning to grow. One of the plants though, seemed to be producing supersize veg.
It took me a few weeks but suddenly I realised that I had mixed up my plants. The super size veg were not courgettes. I had somehow managed to train a pumpkin up a trellis. Now the pumpkins were getting large, action was required to prevent them dropping off. So I made pumpkin slings out of net.
Those pumpkins were probably the best I have ever grown. As they were suspended 4 feet off the ground, they ripened beautifully in the sunshine and were not attacked by anything. When the pumpkins begin to appear this year, I will suspend them above the soil in slings.
This year the “Leaning Tower” definitely has only Courgettes growing up it!
Most of the other veg I grew was very successful, one minor error, I made an amazing bamboo frame for my peas and was very disappointed when they didn’t grow very high. Subsequent examination of the packet revealed I had bought Dwarf Peas. This year, I was very careful selecting the correct variety, they are currently about 7 feet high and still growing.
I became aware through social media, that there were a growing number of people, who were planting their own flowers and cutting them for sale or just for personal pleasure. So last summer with no experience of large scale flower growing, or in fact no idea of what I was going to end up with, I planted a whole bed with flower seeds. The result was a summer of flowers in my house, nothing purchased at a supermarket or florists.
But I knew I could do better, so I spent the winter, researching plants, going on courses and generally planning my flower year. I found resources which showed you could pretty much grow flowers all year round here in the UK and never have to buy them again. So this is now my mission. The one bed from last year has become two this year, and numerous pots as well. I have also used the borders and fences in the other part of the garden for sweet peas and anything else I can squeeze in.
I was also able to help out someone else on a special day. A few weeks ago I took a few jam jar posies into the charity shop I volunteer at. A customer saw them and asked where they came from. She was put in touch with me by the manager and she told me her story. Her sister was getting married the following Saturday and she wanted home grown flowers. Her dad had planted a load in the Spring, but for various reasons, not enough had grown. She asked if I could help out.
So it was, that last week, in the late evening when it was safe to cut, lots and lots of my flowers went on their way to be used at the wedding. The very happy bride, made a lovely donation to the Hospice I volunteer for. I cant describe the pleasure it gave me to be able to help.
In 2012 I was a novice, now in 2014, I could almost say I am a proper gardener. I love my plot and really enjoy sharing all my stories from it. If you want to know more about my garden, and especially more about growing your own flower and food, come on over to my blog for a read.
I am a 51 year old retired public servant and living by the sea in Hampshire with my husband of 22 years, a 10 month old chocolate labrador named Gibson and three hens, Margot, Babs and Geri. My hobbies are gardening which I hope I will eventually become more accomplished at, walking and reading and I volunteer at a local Hospice which gives me an enormous amount of pleasure.