I awoke early the morning after my new veg plot was created. With just a little spousal assistance, a forgotten corner of the garden had been transformed into an accessible and useful space. With my vegetable seedlings bursting out of their pots I was eager to prepare for them a permanent home with room to spread their roots.
Firstly I gave the ground a good digging over. The soil was a mix of sticky clay over which lay mountains of well-rotted compost. Unsure of how long the compost had sat there, or what it had been derived from; I added some extra nutrients in the form of organic chicken manure. Is there a magic ingredient you use to feed your crops? Having ploughed in the manure, I firmed down the soil by treading over it – a somewhat lengthy task for my tiny size 3 feet.
It would have been preferable to leave the patch for a few weeks to allow any weed seeds to germinate and subsequently be removed. However I was already seriously behind schedule on my planting out so I took a risk and left any hidden weeds in place. Once raked, the plot was ready for its new inhabitants.
First to take residence were courgettes which quickly settled in and sprawled out. These were closely followed by the sweetcorn which have made a remarkable recovery since being flattened by heavy winds a few weeks ago. Also transplanted were some ‘snake gourds’ which my grandfather had sent for the children. We’re hoping they’ll produce long, winding gourds which can be dried and painted to resemble our own ‘nest’ of snakes.
Next were the seeds which would be planted directly into the ground. After finely raking the soil I created neat trenches within which the turnip, beetroot, parsnip, carrot and chard seeds could be sprinkled. Being somewhat of a perfectionist I like my crops growing in neat rows. But with a pint-sized assistant at my side this was unachievable. Although most of the seeds made it into the ground many were spilled en route, and those that did reach their intended destination were sprinkled rather haphazardly. With everything mixed up it seemed pointless placing markers in the soil. However we’d been collecting used lolly sticks for just this purpose so it would have been a shame not to utilise them.
A couple of rows of onions were squeezed in to complete the days planting, and all that remained to be done was give the whole thing a good watering. Thankfully the hosepipe ban had been lifted at just the right time for this.
The final job for the day was to make good use of all the branches we’d removed from the site the previous day. With the foliage stripped they made great supports for my peas and cucumbers to climb.
I can’t leave without boasting about the success of my potatoes which are bursting out of their compost bin. I’ve been topping them up with extra soil for the past few weeks and the lush vegetation has finally erupted out of the top. Although I’ve watered them liberally I’ve yet to feed the potatoes, unsure of whether it’s necessary. Do potatoes require extra nutrition and if so what’s the best method of providing this? They seem to be flourishing well enough, but who knows what lies beneath the surface? It will be some time yet until all will be revealed at the grand ‘tipping out’ ceremony I’m planning.