Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Growing My Own Vegetables

There is little in life more satisfying than growing your own food, a deep seeded need in me for some years now, however, this is the first year that I have successfully grown food. 

My father is a brilliant gardener, he can make the most forlorn looking raspberry bush burst forth with a bumper crop, it all seems effortless to him. I just assumed that the "green fingers" gene skipped me, instead I was the cook in the house, everyone has something, don't they? 

My first breakthrough came in the form of growing my (actually just keeping them alive) own herbs, I bought the ones you see in the supermarket, already potted and fully grown. Perfect for a cook, all I have to do is keep them alive. Now you'd think anyone could do that, isn't that what they are there for, nothing to do but water them. Well for the first few hundred (a slight exaggeration, but only slight) pots, I failed at even that. So much so that a snicker could be heard and murmurs of "another victim" when I would arrive home with another pot. So I was right, I'm not a gardener, I can cook but not grow. Until at last I was successful, my parsley lasted for months instead of days.

This summer was in Irish terms, a cracker. The ground turned from a muddy brown to bright green, for the first time in years it wasn't water logged. So I cautiously ventured forth in my quest to grow a vegetable or two. I started with some salad leaves. I bought two willow salad planters, a couple of reduced to clear (well this isn't going to work, right?) plug plants and sat down in the warm summer sun to plant.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't really hold out much hope, I mean this is me, I kill stuff at an alarming rate! The top bed has six strawberry plants and the bottom planter has nine of each Lollo Rossa Lettuce plants and spring onions. They look so small, will they survive?

So we watered them, flicked away the (many) slugs, chased away the cats and lo and behold it worked!!

The strawberries, are jumping out of themselves, although I will have to move them to bigger accommodation next year and start clipping the runners. The lettuce and spring onions served us very well all Summer and into early Autumn. I was so please to be at last giving my father something back from my garden! I could hear the note of pride in his voice when he would pass on some advice. 

I was proud to showcase my hard work in my Tom Doorley 3 Course Menu post, they did me proud. 

In that garden center clearance sale, I also picked up a tray of twelve Hispi Cabbage plants. Initially I planted them in the many leftover herb pots I had lying around, but before too long they outgrew them.

I decided that I was confident enough to buy this 6ft x 3ft deep raised bed, it is deep enough for the long cabbage roots and has years of excellent growing in it.

Here are our beautiful cabbages now, very happy in their new home. The are almost organic (do slug pellets count?) as you can tell from their Caterpillar eaten leaves, but looking strong and healthy.

We have begun to harvest them, but not before they invited in some beautiful winged creatures in now the last of the summer sun.

It has been a wonderful adventure, as a family we really enjoyed being part of our garden. My children became experts at spotting potential pests and watering became a very serious job indeed!

So it has become part useful and part simple beauty in our garden now.

We love the French Lavender for it's fragrance and dazzling blue of the Senetti.

My final word is this, if I can do it then anyone can do it.....

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