Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The best-laid plans of mice and men…

And gardeners.

OK, so I never had time to do that write-up of what happened in the garden last year.

This is the short version - vegetable section!

Back in the spring, I grew seedlings of:

Courgettes (Diamant variety)
Butternut squash (saved seeds)
Pumpkins (saved seeds)
Tomatoes (Chelsea Mini F1)
Peppers (Rainbow)

I took loving pictures of all the seedlings, because I am an optimist.
Squash seedlings

I also planted sugar snap peas (Sugar Bon) directly into the ground. I remember that the planting was done on St Patrick’s Day because I read somewhere that this is when you should plant peas.

The seedlings all took off, except the peppers. I don’t know what I was doing wrong with those - they’re the only things I have a proven track record of growing, and they failed me utterly. I duly potted everything up and tried hardening the plants off by putting them outside during the day once the weather started to warm, but the squash seedlings got a bit battered in the wind and some of them didn’t recover from that. I planted out the remainder. We were hoping for a good harvest from the courgettes, because we eat a lot of courgettes and they’re fairly expensive. We’d been told how easy they are to grow, and warned that we might have difficulty using all of the crop ourselves.

And then it rained for forty days and forty nights. Or more.

It really was a very wet spring and summer. Which encourages slugs, which ate all the squash plants entirely except for one courgette plant, which was sufficiently discouraged by the lack of warmth, sunshine (etc) that it produced exactly one courgette, which grew to be finger-sized and then had a big hole eaten in it, presumably by another slug.
Spot the courgette!

Oh well.

The sugar snap peas did fine, except that I didn’t plant enough of them, I think. The pods we did pick were delicious. The tomatoes did not fruit until very late, and by then the weather was too cool for the fruit to ripen on the vine, but we picked what there was in December – yes, really –and ripened them indoors. It wasn’t exactly a bumper crop; I never pinched out the side shoots (partly because I’m still not sure how to do this) which probably didn’t help.

Aren't they pretty, though?

Our one undoubted success story came with something that was never on the plan to begin with: salad leaves. I picked up a packet of Suttons’ Speedyseeds Leaf Salad (the “spicy mix”, which consists of rocket, red giant mustard, green wave mustard and mizuna kyoto) on a whim, sowed it… and it was brilliant. The leaves not only appeared quickly, but kept reappearing after many successive harvestings. We eat salad at least twice a week in summer, and augmented with a bit of bought lettuce this kept us well supplied. We decided that rocket was our favourite out of the leaves – the mustards get bitter if you don’t harvest them very young – so we’re trying that on its own this year.

This year, the list so far is:

Sugar snap peas (Sugar Bon again)
Tomatoes (Gardener’s Delight and… something else yet unchosen)
First early potatoes (Epicure – I think!)
Courgettes (Diamant again)
Early spinach

I may buy some other stuff as plants later if I have room, but these are the things I’m starting from seed.


Allen Gathman said...

I bought some seeds this year for a change -- some herbs, and snow peas. Around here, you're supposed to plant snow peas on Valentine's Day, but ice storms followed by being way too wet to plow have prevented me. I hope to start the herbs in flats soon at least.

scoliyogi said...

You're garden looks and sounds fabulous. Sadly I don't have a lot of room in my garden (its just a glorified back yard) so I only have flower beds, which I'll be working on this weekend.

This is _ishtahar_ from LJ btw. I haven't updated my blog on here for ages but intend to over the next few months.