My gardening for the year has come to an end. I have to say that I struggled to stay interested in it beyond August. My loss of focus was partly due to having a lot of other things to work on (both craft and non-craft), but also because the courgette plants grew unruly, the leaves turned grey and the fruit stopped developing so well. It was hard to be as excited. The tomato vines started to blacken, and the purple sprout seedlings I planted out were immediately consumed by pests. No real loss as I loathe Brussels sprouts.
I captured this time lapse video that shows the progress of my little vegetable patch.
Surprisingly, the courgettes were probably the greatest success of the season. They’re really easy to incorporate into cooking and very healthy. I would definitely grow them again, though probably only one plant next time.
I learnt too late that I should have kept the tomatoes at the front of my house, where there is more sun. This meant that I harvested mostly green tomatoes, which just left me with unnecessary preserving work. However, it was just as well I did preserve them. Many of the fruits I didn’t preserve seemed to have some kind of frostbite that made them rot. If I were to grow these tomatoes again (and I have loads of seeds), one vine would definitely be sufficient.
I decided to try fried green tomatoes following Nigel Slater’s recipe. They were all right.
I ate them with garlic mayo, which meant making mayonnaise for the first time. I was surprised by how easy it was.
Lessons from my gardening attempts this year:
- Don’t buy plants or seeds from the pound shop
- Seriously, don’t!
- Physalis is easy to grow in London, but I’m not hugely fond of the fruit
- Keeping herbs alive in the kitchen is hard if you live alone and like going on holiday
I’m not sure yet whether I’ll plant anything next year. Even though it was definitely worthwhile this year, you need plenty of time to use the vegetables once you have managed to grow them. Spare time really is at a premium for me at present.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to grow tomatoes given that they’re meant to be tricky, and I have a poor gardening track record. However, this is my harvest from two plants.
I decided to take all of them off the vine even though most are still green. It’s starting to get too cold and the vines are dying, which is affecting the fruit. With the experience I now have, I think I would get a lot more ripe tomatoes if I grew them again.
I decided to make some green tomato chutney with the slightly dodgier tomatoes. I followed Nigel Slater’s recipe, doubled. I didn’t have many jars left after my courgette jam exploits so had to make do with an odd selection. I ended up with seven jars of varying sizes- most of them quite large.
I also made a simple salad inspired by my recent holiday to Greece. The tomato is combined with nectarine and ricotta with a basil dressing. It’s a bit like a twist on a tricolore. I also grew the basil. The plant was a bit of a casualty of the holiday, so I had to use it all up quickly.
Recipe from The Silver Island Cookbook.
So far, my garden seems to be doing pretty well. That’s in spite of some weird weather that included powerful wind and rain that killed some of my young plants. They currently seem to be enjoying the blazing sunshine.
I’ve planted out almost all of my seedlings. After being stressed that I didn’t pick the best tomatoes to plant out, they seem to be growing pretty well. I have several good seedlings left and I feel bad throwing them away, but I also don’t really have a use for them. Meant to email colleagues offering them but forgot.
My two physalis plants are looking pretty strong so far too.
I’ve had some strawberry drama. After discovering an aphid infestation soon after planting out, I sprayed the plants with some stuff I found in the cupboard, which actually killed one or two of them. I’ve also had some other seedlings die off. Maybe I waited too long to plant them out and the sun is too harsh on them? On the positive side, I was so happy to notice the first fruit growing!
My veg patch is coming on wonderfully too. I made a GIF showing the how it’s changed over the past two months.
I have some courgettes starting to grow. I really find it crazy to think that all of this came from a single seed. Nature, right?
My carrots and beetroot are looking good too. Think I will plant some new beetroot seeds in the gaps left in the row to give me a longer yield.
The main task left is to stay on top of the weeding. My neighbour has a big flowering bush on the fence right next to my veg patch, which has dropped loads of seeds onto it. On the plus side, I discovered some jasmine right next to it in my own garden. Jasmine is one of my favourite smells, so it makes being out in my little sunny garden even more pleasurable.
I’m glad that after quite a heavy initial investment of time to prepare the garden, it’s down to routine maintenance that doesn’t take too long. I feel like I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so I’m glad the garden can be relegated to the back burner. It’s clearly still there though- a doodle in a team meeting turned into this.
A couple of years ago, I moved into my first house in London with a garden. Despite my terror of creepy-crawlies, I cleared it and planted some pumpkins that I’d grown from seed. Unfortunately the pumpkins succumbed to some kind of parasite or something after they flowered, so they never grew to full maturity.
I moved house again in September. Even though my new house also has a (nicer) small garden, gardening was pretty far down on the list of my priorities. However, I did buy some cute hedgehog-shaped herb planters from the shop at the Wellcome Collection.
All of these things convinced me to switch the focus of my limited amount of gardening time from outside to inside. I occasionally worry about the fact that I am dying a slow death due to to levels of air pollution in London. Someone once told me that going for a run outdoors causes more harm to your health than good due to the dodgy air. No idea if that is a fact fact or an alternative fact, but it stuck with me and I decided to buy some plants that claim to have air-purifying qualities; a peace lily and two varieties of aloe vera.
I also bought these from This Way to the Circus on Etsy.
* Cat with heart eyes emoji*
Soon after my plants arrived from the internet. (Garden centre, what??) I followed the directions as best I could to re-pot them.
I’ve got to say that I’m thrilled with how they’re looking so far. I am considering creating a spreadsheet for perceived levels of air cleanliness over time.
Before long, I was struck with the fear that I may not be able to keep my plant babies alive. I have killed many a plant in my time. Hopefully the investment I made in these plants will help encourage me to look after them properly. If I manage, I can see more greenery in my future.
Last weekend I stared death in the face as I squared up to one of my greatest fears. Well, to be more accurate, I stared snails in the face because I gardened and I am terrified of creepy crawlies. Basically, I don’t like anything that isn’t cute and furry, or brightly coloured.
I may have squealed rather a lot when a snail reared its tiny head at me, presumably gnashing its teeth in an attempt to intimidate me, but then it started moving very slowly in the opposite direction, so it was fine. I’m not sure when I developed my horror of minibeasts, though I do remember being repulsed when, at the age of about seven, I jumped off a swing and crushed a snail with my knee. It was nasty.
Anyway, one of the benefits of my recent move has been gaining a garden. It’s a typical London garden, i.e. tiny, neglected and mostly concrete, but a garden it remains. For the past few years I’ve had vague fantasies of living like The Good Life, as a self-sufficient woman rearing shit and growing other shit. Well, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and mine was the impulse purchase of a child’s pumpkin growing kit in Morrisons.
The first step was easy. I planted the pumpkin seeds in the tiny pot provided and left it to sweat. I was really pleased that some shoots came up, as I have a history of planticide.
Soon, my seedlings were too big for the confines of the tub, so I got some compost and managed to repot them without casualty.
I started getting them used to being outside. I begn buying and borrowing gardening equipment. All the while, avoiding what was to come.
Spoiler: It was mostly woodlice.
I yanked at stuff , snapped twigs and raked at the earth with a tool borrowed from my mother, and an hour or so later, I had achieved this.
I’m pretty sure that at least one plant is already dead, but I planted it anyway in case it’s a Jesus pumpkin plant.
The wild plants in the rest of the bed are covered in aphids, so my next task is to make some spray to get rid of them. But I have a pumpkin patch of my very own!