Green Fingers? Well, Not Quite


So, I’ve posted previously about my foray into square foot gardening, and my attempts to grow as much of our food as possible this year. Quite an ambitious goal for someone who struggles to keep anything non-human alive!

I posted about the building and filling of new raised beds, and about the sowing of seeds, the sprouting of seedlings …. I had a greenhouse full of strong, young seedlings ready to go out into the new raised beds as soon as it was warm enough.

And then April happened. And May. Snow. Hail. Cold. Cold. Cold, cold, cold. Nothing could go out. I tried. It died. So everything stayed indoors until it was time, finally to get things out into the garden. And by then … my lovely seedlings had given up. So sad!

But not to worry – some things did make it outside. The garlic, peas, mangetout and carrots all got transplanted outside and survived! The radishes survived too, but I left them too long and they were a bit passed it when I pulled them up. But, undeterred, I planted new ones.

The carrots did really well – the ones that went in the ground. The second lot of seeds I planted never germinated, so I’m trying again. But look at these beautiful carrots I grew. Yes, I know they’re small, but that’s how I like them – sweet and flavourful.

Our peas have grown in abundance – the kids love picking the ripe and ready pods from the plants and shelling the peas. Plum, who hates peas almost as much as I do, has found a love of raw peas straight from the pod (which is the only way I will eat them too). PK loves them so much he invented a new dance about peas coming from the pod. Our mangetout have been similarly abundant and we have enjoyed them cooked fresh from the plant, and frozen masses of them so that we don’t waste them.

The garlic is progressing well,  by the look of it, but it’s not time to uproot it yet. And since spring and summer arrived so late, I have taken advantage of the cheap plants on offer at all the supermarkets and bought in the veggies I killed – planted in the beds we now have beetroot, onions (three kinds), cabbages (three kinds), broccoli, lollo rosso, purple french beans, spinach, tomatoes (four kinds, some in the beds, some in pots), peppers (three kinds), chillies, courgettes, aubergine, parsnips, radishes, carrots, pumpkins, and celery. Phew!

We also have a separate bed for herbs – I moved my parsley and rosemary over to it – they are the two that survived from spring last year and didn’t let the snow put them off. The parsley has thrived, but the rosemary is looking a little pale, to say the least. To this bed, I have added a new rosemary plant, coriander, sage, oregano, lemon balm and chives. There’s also a couple of garlic plants in there.

And the last bed was for strawberries. None of my seeds germinated, but all was not lost. I bought strawberry plugs last year, and none of them did well, but this spring, I found that of the 12, five had survived, so they have gone into the new bed from the smaller pots they were in. They are growing fruit, even though the plants are still very small – the strawberries are nearly as big as the plants! Still, they seem to be thriving in their new bed (and I should think so too – it’s full of Mel’s Mix, which is a not-very-cheap-to-create mix of growing mediums recommended for square foot gardening because it’s full of nutrients and drains well.

Also joining them in the new bed was a plant which has proven to be very robust! It started life as seeds in a “plant your own strawberries” kit that was given to Plum when she was about 4. The seedlings were transplanted into a wooden planter full of bog-standard compost, where they did fairly well, despite the interest shown in them by the cats and chickens and the utter neglect they received from the humans in the household. After we moved to the new house, I dug them up, brought them over, left them unplanted for a fortnight and then finally planted them in an unprepared south-facing border, where most of the sun was blocked by my gazebo. Despite all this, they have thrived, and so I dug them up (again!) and put them in the new bed, where they promptly sulked for a week before the torrential rain arrived for a week and they perked right up. They are now covered in ripe alpine strawberries which provide a sudden and tiny burst of the most glorious strawberry flavour you can imagine.

I’m pleased to say that all the bought-in plants have also thrived since they were planted, even though the spinach looked like it would die at any moment (a few plants survived on the windowsill and I planted them even though they looked half dead – more out of bloody-mindedness than belief) has picked up and grown. I’ve also managed to kill two hosepipes since the beginning of May – well, I say “me” – the children seem to have managed that somehow!

So, I think I’ve proven that I’m not green-fingered, but with a bit of luck, a bit of help and a lots of urging-on-of-plants to please just ignore my poor care and grow anyway, I can at least produce something. We shall see which, if any, of these miracle plants produce food for us. *fingers crossed*.

And as I type this, I am preparing to go and actually plant my spuds, which have been waiting patiently since March to go out. I kept being told it was too early, and then I missed the 15 minutes of right weather. And now I’m going to plant them anyway – again, out of sheer bloody-mindedness !

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