Journey so far – growing our own veg

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My first ever veg bed

My last ‘grow your own’ post was all about our foray into growing fruit, which was quite successful I think. Our foray into growing our own veg has been less so. We started 3 years ago with 1 long bed at the back of the garden, a stretch of lawn that we cut away the turf for and then double dug it. Again the soil was poor with stones, nails, ceramics, broken glass and plastic scattered through. We took out the non-organic debris and added compost as we dug it over. As a start we tried some red cabbage from seedlings as we were on a red cabbage and apple kick, and I tried a salad mat I had been bought by a friend. I never knew how many seedlings you can get from 1 packet the bed was pretty full of red cabbage (some of which stayed for 2 more years!). I had no idea how to use the salad leaves so it all went to seed :-(. We also tried some asparagus, some carrots, onion, garlic and some tatties that had started sprouting in the cupboard.

Never let me sow seeds direct, I overcrowded the carrots and didn’t have the heart to thin them, after all the little ones deserve a shot too right? *headdesk* The carrots we got were small, deformed from growing around stones and riddled with carrotfly. The asparagus never made it for some reason. My onions were tiny, but huge compared to my garlic which never managed to form cloves. Tatties were a little more successful but the emphasis must be on little! Suffice to say we weren’t going to feed ourselves from my skills but I was enjoying myself and slowly, very, very slowly, learning.

First harvest part 1
First harvest part 2

Onwards and upwards right? The second year saw tatties, onions and garlic in the bed (I got garlic cloves woohoo). The herb barrel I had started, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage and parsley was doing well, despite mint’s aims of barrel domination (don’t co-plant mint, it is a bully!).

Herbs in a whiskey barrel

We decided a greenhouse was in order, help us fight the Scottish climate and all that. We pretty much had no idea what we were doing, if we were doing it again I would have sited it differently, gotten a larger one and made it so you could plant directly into the soil, but you live and learn, and we were proud of it. I tried growing peppers, toms and aubergines. I failed. I suck at watering things, really suck at it. I also suck at planting things on. We also suffered a major infestation of aphids in the greenhouse and my desire to stay organic combined with my lack of time spent in the greenhouse resulted in the crops being stunted wilting and dying. But I learnt!

Such potential in the greenhouse
It’s starting to look like a real growing garden!

Last year we were preparing to get married and I focused on the fruit rather than the veg. I planted the tatties, onions and garlic as always. I was getting better at the latter two but still had tattie problems. I was also given excess leek, squash, pumpkin and tom plants from my supervisor. I had minimal success with the leeks and toms, none with the squash or pumpkin. I was trying to grow them all in the greenhouse in pots. the bed was full of onion and garlic and the tatties were being grown in bags. I needed more beds. The wild raspberry was giving a very poor harvest and it was time it went I cut it down and covered the whole right side of the garden with old carpet, 2014 would see more beds for veg. Another problem I had been having was the cats using my veg bed as a litter tray. We decided to split the bed into 2, putting an arch in the middle as hubby wanted one, build them like raised beds but keep the soil at ground level and put netting over the top. It works quite well to keep the cats out except for when they use the netting as a hammock. I’m also hoping it might help with carrotfly if I try carrots again.We had a go at peas climbing up the archway and it worked surprisingly well. They are on the list for 2014.

The not quite raised beds and my pallet compost bin

Due to a slightly manic phase last weekend we are now pulling up a patio at the back of the garden which we actually think used to be a greenhouse base (concrete around the edge the size of a green house with screws still in). Once it is clear of all debris we will keep the concrete border, fill with some good, manured soil and have a large bed. Once we have the bed down the righthand side of the garden sorted, we may pop a greenhouse over the concrete base, planting directly into the soil. Lots of jobs to be done in the garden now. Onions and garlic are in, tatties are in bags (trying seed potatoes for the first time) and have seeds for peas, pumpkins and peppers, which I will need to start sorting out soon. Hopefully very soon I will have a post about bed number 3 coming into existence and me planting out pumpkins into it!

Creation of bed #3, aka what happens when a manic Dans goes into the garden

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