Allotment, Craig, Gardening, Guest Posts

Planting Out

The dreary rain-filled days of April seem to be a lifetime ago after the recent mini-heatwave and certainly in terms of growing there have been some big changes. Our small seeds have taken every ray of sunshine and seem to have gone from sorry-looking water washed items to sprouting shoots of growth.

Craig's allotment beds

Plants in the Allotment
We share the allotment with another family – the dream for this year being that we will have sufficient fruit and vegetables from June onwards. Last year’s expansion meant that we started seeding late – but with the procurement of a large homemade greenhouse we have been able to sow directly from seeds. In simple terms it means we can expect more for less. Or at least, that is the plan.

We are actively trying to involve our son in the experience. He is three and already enjoys playing alongside us; he has his own spade and gloves and like most young boys he enjoys filling buckets with dirt. But equally he is learning. He is keen to know what things are called and loves to help pick (and eat) the fruits of our labour. So when he is maybe too heavy handed with the delicate seedlings, we explain he needs to be careful and put it down to experience. He has even got his own small pots full of all kinds of interesting things growing.

Our local council refuge site has been selling soil enhancer for a very reasonable £2.50 per 50 litre bag – so we took full advantage of this and still have three bags left from the original ten we bought. If you couple that with a load of bargain seeds then our total investment for this year has been a paltry £40 – which has been split between the 2 families. So what are we expecting for our hard-earned money?Craig's salad

Last week we took the step of planting out our dear young growers, hoping that we have seen the last of any frost until at least October. We got stung last year by planting too early and even the “hardy” potatoes fell foul of a particularly firm frost. A team effort took place and we managed to get the following transplanted – courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions (spring, red and white), garlic, peas, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, runner beans and dwarf beans.

The swathes of fresh turned soil which had look like we would never fill them, quickly took to life with the odd splashes of green fresh growth. Our runner beans and peas are being trained to grow around lengths of recycled pipe and we have used a collection of old pieces of wood to create planting beds. The ever ingenious gardener’s motto seems to be, “don’t throw that away – I can use that on my allotment!” I constantly marvel at how mundane items become used in ways never dreamt of.

Craig's Plants
So after the months of preparing we now enter the growing stage. Judging by what I have seen so far we could well be in for a good one. The tomato plants stand no more than 4 inches tall but already have many trusses on and as we have failed in the last two summers are taking that to be a very good omen. Only time will tell…

Craig

Charlotte, Gardening, Guest Posts

New Girl on the Plot

It’s all too easy to spend every moment in the garden being ‘busy’. Particularly at this time of year, when there’s so much to be done, it’s difficult to put down the tools for a minute and appreciate what your hard work has created.

Charlotte and child hanging birdfeeders
During our first days in the new house we hung feeders to attract local birds

So this morning, I spent a few minutes with a cup of tea, perched on the wall, admiring the garden around me.
We’ve only lived in our present home for 3 months so the garden is still somewhat of a stranger to me. Having grown up following my parents and grandparents around their own beautifully maintained patches, I developed an interest in horticulture. However once I’d flown the nest for University I spent a decade living in city apartments, with little more than a window box to occupy my green fingers.

This year my husband and I decided to relocate our family home from inner city Brighton to the suburbs of Hove. Granted we only moved a few miles, but the lush surroundings and birdsong of our new home seem a world away from the traffic and noise of our previous one. Lily of the ValleyWhite flowersSo finally I have a garden of my own, and with it, a duty to care for the land.

I feel a huge responsibility to create an environment in which our children and the local wildlife can thrive. Consequently I plan to tend it in an eco-friendly manner; working with nature and avoiding the use of chemicals and artificial fertilisers. In order to do this I first need to understand my new plot. So rather that rushing in with drastic changes, for this first year, I’m allowing the garden to reveal itself. When we initially moved in, the garden welcomed us with a mass of snowdrops and daffodils. These withered to make way for colourful tulips and poppies. Now the borders are filled with lily of the valley, wild garlic and the last few bluebells of the season.
Daisy in gardenStone path steps in garden

Suddenly everything is springing to life. The fruit trees are filling out and flowers appearing on the roses, while the pond is overflowing with lilies and irises. As I sat, sipping my tea and taking it all in, my arm brushed past the bank of lavender developing around the patio. Releasing a waft of fragrance, it hinted that the garden has many more surprises in store for the coming months. I can’t wait to see what they are!

– Charlotte

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