Growing Our Own

No WIP Wednesday for me yesterday - mainly down to the fact that I've been so busy this last week with the kids and getting the garden ready for this years attempt at growing our own veg - that I've hardly had a chance to pick up either knitting needles or crochet hook.  Tony's been taking on all the overtime he can get at work so I haven't been able to get up to Ramsey for my wool, and it's hard to work on the circular one when I keep falling asleep with the wee ones when they go to bed at night!

And lately, when I do manage to get onto the computer, I can usually be found scrawling through the forums here to find out how to grow what.  (Did I just add a linky there - Yay me!!!)

We had a go last year, and I'm pleased to say we had some success.  For the past few years, I've signed the kids up to the BBC's Dig In programme so we can give it a go, but last year was the first that we've really taken seriously.  When I was pregnant with Jessica, I got my "hippy head" (as Tony calls it) on big time and decided that, since money was tight, we were going to try to grow some of the veg that we spend the most money on.  That way we would have some spare cash for treats.  And hopefully if we could get the kids to help grow them then we might actually get them to eat some veg.  So that summer, while I tottled off the Belfast alone to see my mum, Tony went with the kids to visit his parents in Birmingham with explicit instructions to buy me a "blowaway" green house from Argos.  Which, I'll give him his dues he did.  And it sat out the back off our house for over a year storing all my pots and paraphernalia, but not actually doing what it was supposed to be doing.

Then I signed up to the Dig In scheme last year.  We got 5 free packs of seeds: french beans, courgettes (zucchini), carrots, basil and mixed salad leaves, which, along with a few packets we had floating round the house would make a great start.  But knowing me, I couldn't leave it at that.  Oh no - off I go and put a request on Freecycle for spare seeds if anyone had them.  We had one wisecrack who told me to go to Tesco and buy a pack for 60something pence, but on the whole I was totally shocked by the response.  In the end I met a lovely lady who not only gave me loads more pots but also gave me a load of seed potatoes, 3 tomato plants, 2 squash plants, some french bean plants and a load of strawberry plants.  And another guy gave us a load of topsoil and mushroom compost.  He has since become my "dealer" - supplying me with loads of goodies to feed my addiction to GYO, the last fix being about 60-70+ large black plant pots he had left over from redoing his own garden.

So, armed with all these goodies I really had to follow through, didn't I?

I have to admit, because we had the shop at the time, it did turn into a bit of a weekend affair - Tony sort of left it up to me since it was my bright idea, though bless him, he did do the really heavy/dirty work for me.  He made me a raised bed out of an old pallet box that the shop next door had given us, so Beccabird and I planted up the carrots, scallions and mixed salad.  Well, I planted - she just threw her seeds all over the box.  And every night during the good weather I was out the back diligently watering and talking to my babies.  And the babies did good.  Within weeks the back of the house actually almost resembled a proper garden (except for the fact it's all concrete and actually a car park for the shop next door).   For a while it seemed like every Saturday you could find me in Wilkinsons garden aisle buying a bigger pot for this one or another bag of compost for that one.  In fact the only problems we had were 1) my tiny 2-tiered green house simply wasn't big enough and 2) Beccabirds salad leaves took over their plot and suffocated my poor carrots and scallions.  But everything else thrived.

Then in August, we thought we'd lost the lot.  We woke one Sunday morning to find that the gales the night before had blown the greenhouse off it's boxes and it had sent all my pots flying.  Thankfully it had gone straight up the alleyway at the side of the house, but it meant we had to spend the day moving everything through the house into the front garden - and keep everything we could cross crossed!

But thankfully, it didn't seem to do much damage and they did well considering they didn't have as much sun in their new home.  Granted, we didn't get the glut of fresh veg we we're hoping for - and my one red tomato split it's skin, but still we managed to get a few meals out of the french beans and Tony found a recipe for the most lushest green tomato chutney (almost makes me hope they stay green this year!)  Oh, and we discovered to our surprise that the basil was infact sunflowers but heyho - ya live and ya learn. 

But my pride and glory were my courgettes.  Now they alone were enough to make me feel like I knew what I was doing.  Massive they were, HUGE!  We had 5 plants all in all and they kept us going in chocolate and courgette cake right up to Beccabirds birthday in November. Yum!

And so this year we're going to try it all again.  Like I said, we've spent the last week getting everything sorted - Tony doing the heavy/dirty work like weeding and such, and I've spent the week up to my elbows in soapy water washing all the pots so that my new babies have somewhere clean and shiney to live.  My seed potatoes are chitting away happily on the kitchen window and the strawbug plants seem to have managed to survive the winter frosts and have all been repotted.  On Monday I split the Aloe Vera plant that Tony's dad gave us a few years ago and got 10 more pots out of it - one for my mum, one for Tony's dad (who lost his to the frost this year) and the kids have got one each on their window sills with the instructions that they have to look after them so that Jonathan and Jessica can have the pups that come from them (oooh get me knowing the technical terms ;oD )  The rest will be given to friends who want one.  And to top it all off, this morning I got the Vales Emerald seed potatoes I ordered ages ago from a special offer the BBC Gardeners World were doing with Thompson and Morgan - a free potato growing kit comprising of 5 tubers and a spud growing bag, we just had to pay the p&p.  And they threw in 5 extra packets of seeds - "Mini Finger" carrots, "Primo" cabbage,  "Anaheim" pepper chilli, coriander and "lettuce leaf" basil.  Add to that the spinach, radish, tomatoes, 2 sets of onion, shallots, another basil and 2 packets of carrot we have ready to go out and we'll eat like vegetarian kings this year.  Oh and of course I'm going to give the courgettes another go.  Well after last year I'd be daft not too - and the kids are begging for me to start making the cakes again.

Well if it gets the greens into them, I'll give anything a go :oD

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