25 April 2015

Hope



I have read somewhere this week that the sales of vegetable seeds overtook flower seeds last year.  I do hope that it is not just a passing fashion.  Growing your own is not an easy undertaking, sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle but the rewards are amazing.  I have been growing my own for the past twelve summers, we inherited a patch of grass when we bought our house which we have turned into a productive wildlife friendly space.  It is not huge but it is enough for me to keep on top off, just, with everything else that we also like to do.

The main lesson I have learnt in all those years is to grow only what is suitable for my climate, seems simple, but there are many plants that I thought were and are grown successfully by others in my area.  My limited space means that I have to choose carefully, whilst always growing what we actually like eating.

I live in a terraced house, the middle of five.  All our plots are long and thin, the back of the house is the middle of a 100m plot (it's about 5.5m wide), we have a front and back garden.  Immediately behind our house is an access strip as wide as a car which is shared by all the houses in the two terraces (there is another block of five) so we have to keep that land clear.  It makes a great safe place for children to play.  My back garden where I currently do all my growing is about 35ish metres long.

All the permanent plants we grow have to be very hardy, but even then some don't survive.  I think I may have lost yet another Rosemary bush this winter despite being assured it would cope!  Living, as I do, in the UK our maritime climate brings us all weathers, sometimes in one day.  We are at 54.5°N, 270m above sea level, on the edge of a small village.  There is open land in front of our house as far as the horizon, which is a 700 - 800m high ridge of hills about eight miles away and where most of our weather comes from.  We get a lot of rain, 510mm so far this year, more than three times that on average over the year, and wind blowing right across that open ground and not much sun.  Temperatures in the summer months average around 17°C, there have been a couple of summers since we have lived here where the temperatures barely got into double figures.  I always wait to buy my children sandals............

You would be forgiven for thinking it was all doom and gloom, but plenty of plants thrive, it has just taken a while to work out which ones they are.  We are also fortunate that land around fifteen miles south of us is at sea level which has a warmer climate and longer growing season (by about a month) there is an abundance of pick your owns farms in that area which provide us with all the fruit and veg that we cannot grow.

My garden is looking a little bare right now, I am busy sowing seeds, but you can see pictures of it here and here.  What about you?

23 comments:

  1. I've learnt to grow things with a short season, as like you with don't have a very good summer usually, I've given up on strawberries, but always grow leeks x

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    1. I suspect we have similar weather! We don't grow strawberries either!

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  2. I started sowing late this year, with time under pressure from other things. It remains to be seen whether it will catch up. All depends on the type of summer we get I guess. It's been raining yesterday and today and the greening up everywhere is really quite noticeable.

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    1. I always sow now as I found that my seedlings got too leggy if I sowed them any earlier. I have to start most things in the polytunnel, and much of it stays there!

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  3. We're only a small island, you'd think that we'd all have the same weather and growing conditions but that's not so. There's such a big difference in what will grow in one area compared to another, isn't there? I've got seedlings all over the place at the moment, the windowsills are full and so is the greenhouse, it's just about time to start planing things out at the allotment now.

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    1. It's is amazing the differences, particularly places that are a few miles apart!

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  4. HI
    we just put in our first raised bed this weekend but I haven't decided what to put in it yet.
    Just came back from a holiday in Wales - were we had fantastic weather but the sea was soo cold.
    Looking forward to seeing pictures of you lovely garden this year.

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    1. I bet the sea was cold! I wouldn't dare go near it until well into August! Enjoy your growing this year Emma :)

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  5. Hi Dear friend,

    I sent a text about the Thursday for B and I to visit just before ten, did you get it as sometimes my phone is dodgy with the texts!

    San x

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  6. I love growing our own food, it is something that is part of our life and we wouldn't change it for the world, even with all the work involved. It does take awhile to figure out what grows well, and over the years we have experimented here and there with things, but this year we are sticking pretty close to what we know grows well, and that we eat a lot of. There are still a few small experiments, I just can't help myself :)

    Happy gardening!

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    1. I love it too, and I always love to read what others are growing. Sometimes I wish we had a slightly longer growing season but that would mean living further south which I don't really want to do, can't have it both ways!

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  7. Just getting our seeds going. Bit behind this year, but determined. I love trying different varieties. Some are planted each year, but I like to push our luck and try something different. We're trying outdoor melons this year. Meant to be small, so hopefully they'll get enough of the right kind of weather and grow quick. We'll see.

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    1. I am sure yours will catch up! Outdoor melons wow, that will be fun :)

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  8. I really hope that's a trend that's set to continue - I don't grow very much but it's always very satisfying eating something you grew yourself isn't it!

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    1. I didnt grow much when mine were little I just didn't have the time. But now they are a little older I am enjoying it much more :)

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  9. I'm just excited to start a garden, periode and hope the weeds don't take over

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    1. Weeding is endless but worth it, little and often is my mantra!

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  10. We only have a small courtyard garden behind the house. Having it paved makes life much easier with the dogs, but I'm hoping to come by some big planters, the kind that are deep enough to grow veg in, and get back to having at least some home grown veg in our diet. At least living in a village where a large market garden and farm shop are the principle employers means we can always come by fresh fruit and vegetables. Good luck with your plans :o)

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    1. Somehow I imagined you would have a wild and rambling large garden! Old feed sacks make good planters too but they don't look as pretty! My neighbour always grows potatoes in them each year.

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  11. We are very fortunate, our lovely next door neighbour grows lots of veg and I often come home to find a bag or basket on the doorstep full of squeaky-fresh veg. I usually respond with some home baking or a jar of lemon curd or jam, so it's a good arrangement x

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    1. What a wonderful arrangement! We give our neighbour fruit and veg in exchange for babysitting!

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  12. We have quite a bit to do in the new garden, but much of it has gone on the back burner atm. We have got various seedlings going, though.

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Hello......would love to hear from you :)