Here we are, firmly in the middle of May, and I feel as though I should have written this post much earlier in the year. In fact hold up – HOW are we in the middle of May already?! To be honest, as much as I enjoyed my first foray into vegetable growing last year, I really wasn’t sure whether anything would happen in 2021.
Firstly I am not and probably never will be a hardy gardener. Going outside in January and February is to be avoided at all costs, plus I was otherwise pre-occupied with job-hunting. Then in March when I should have undertaken a frenzy of seed sowing I started my new job and took a month to adjust. April saw the coldest April since the 1980s and May has been probably the wettest May since the 1980s.
All good reasons to throw my seed packets up in the air and declare it “not happening this year!”.
However, I’ve persevered – somewhat – but before we get into it, let me tell you what I’m not growing this year. Sweetpeas (tried two separate sowings, failed twice). I’m also afraid to say I’ve let my fledgling zinnias and cosmos flowers dwindle away so maybe I’ll try to sow some more cosmos. I feel like I need to get more involved with cut annual flowers but I struggle a little bit to be interested.
We’ve also taken a few steps forward in terms of adding to our vegetable patch/area for this year – Pete built a second “raised” bed (we don’t actually fill the soil up to the top, just add some boards to create a designated area), I’ve made an A-frame out of canes and netting for anything that needs to climb like peas and beans.
Lastly, we’ve put in two arches across the path at the top of the garden, one side of which I’m hoping will make a lovely new home for my runner beans which is a little giveaway as to what’s on the horizon!
I think these will hopefully be my pride and joy this year. Last year my neighbour gave me a couple of runner bean plants but unaware just how much support they needed, I didn’t look after them and just let the bean pods dry out. From there I harvested between 10 and 15 beans that I kept in a drawer over winter, and this season I’ve sowed them in small pots and they have ALL germinated. It literally is like Jack and the Beanstalk, I’m dead chuffed!
I’ve sown a row of mange tout in the same place as last year because it was so successful. I know, I know, you’re not meant to grow the same crop in the same space but I don’t have much wiggle room so needs must. I’ll then sow another row in about 3 weeks time.
My neighbour gave me some lovely red/pink sunflower seeds that she saved from her collection so they’re on the go along with a couple I bought from a shop. I grew yellow sunflowers last year but again, didn’t harvest properly so I’m excited to see what comes of this more unusual variety.
Yes, more fool me I have sowed 4 courgette seeds and yes, they have all germinated. We’ll see whether I end up planting them all out, or whether I give a couple away. I know last year I did end up with a glut just like everyone said I would…
Again, last year I managed to grow cucumbers from seed but I didn’t provide enough support so I need to think about that for this year. I have 4 plants on the go so will end up with a lot, but I’m trying a smaller variety this year than last.
Last year I did everything I could to kill my aubergine seedlings and they still flourished, although by the time the aubergines themselves were ready I was in a colitis flare and too poorly to get into the garden let alone cook with them. So I’m trying again with 5 babies on the go.
Nasturtiums Ladybird Rose
I’d always heard about nasturtiums being fabulous companion plants to a lot of vegetables but I just can’t take to orange/yellow flowers – please don’t hate me! But the joy of gardening comes through learning and I’ve bought some ladybird rose variety which look as though they develop the prettiest pink and peach flowers. We live in hope!
I don’t think I’ll ever get over that you can take a seed or part of an existing vegetable from your kitchen and potentially grow more vegetables from it the following year. I have no idea why but this really does blow my mind. Following some instructions from the Mother Cooker Garden patreon that I have a monthly subscription too, earlier this year in the cold days I took two plump garlic cloves, buried them in a pot in some soil and it turns out they are at the very least growing. It remains to be seen if they produce an actual edible bulb of garlic but we’ll see!
Chillis and Peppers
I feel like I should make a mention here for what is undoubtedly my total failure when it comes to growing heat loving plants 😊 I tried last year, I tried this year, adding a propagator and heat pad this time and still I couldn’t get my chillies especially to germinate. I have managed two peppers who now seem to be doing quite well but they’re so tiny I’m not sure they’ll produce anything.
Undeterred though I cheated and bought two chillies and a pepper from a nursey and will try again with germination next year. I’m too stubborn to give up!
Finally there’s the list of things that I intend to sew but haven’t actually done anything about it yet – rocket, spinach, lettuce and cauliflowers. Cauliflowers I’m just intrigued to see whether I can, and I read that they go well with peas and beans so I’ll plant them out at the bottom of my mange tout frame. Or that’s the idea. And there we have it, I AM enthusiastic for this year but there’s no two ways about it that both of a lack of time and the shocking spring we’ve had have put a damper on things. But we’ve done more to the vegetable growing space so if this year is a bit lame, roll on 2022 when I’ll DEFINITELY be ready!