Friday, 18 May 2012

Can you dig it?

I hated gardening when I was a youngster. My parents lived in a house with a large garden, and grew their own fruit and vegetables. I was given my own corner for planting, but I hated weeding and hated waiting for things to grow.

Not much has changed. The wife and I have our own house and garden, but still the old bugbear about weeds and waiting. But we're more aware of the benefits of growing your own fruit and vegetables, and they're certainly worth the effort.

We don't have a greenhouse. We don't have any special expertise, other than the advice our parents give us, and what it says on the seed packets. We don't have a big garden area, and we have probably some of the worst soil to work with (heavy clay).

But if we can grow tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and purple broccoli, then anyone can! Some things we've learned are:

 - not much grows in heavy clay soil, and it's very difficult to improve it. You'll know if you've got some if it sticks together in large clumps when you dig it, and it tends to crack in hot, dry weather. Growing things is a hit and miss affair, but...

 - old buckets, plastic bins and washing-up bowls are great for planting veggies. We clean them thoroughly, drill some holes in the bottom for drainage, then fill with two-thirds topsoil, one-third organic compost, and some "fish blood and bone" mix. All are available from a garden centre. You can even decorate the outside if you're feeling arty!

 - slugs can be kept at bay by burying old glass jars in the ground, so they are flush with the soil. Then fill them with beer. Slugs love the ale, but they get drunk, fall into the jar, and drown!

Hopefully I'll be able to show some of our gardening results later in the year. But for the moment, here's a photo of some of our plants that are well on their way to the dinner table.

Photo of seedlings. Parsnip, bell pepper, potato, broccoli and carrot
Seedlings. From left to right: parsnip, bell pepper, potato, broccoli, carrot
(Photo: mpmedia)

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