Thursday, 5 July 2012

Attempting a Vegetable Garden

We have a big garden, it’s over 800 square metres, relatively speaking it’s a huge space. When we moved to the house it was full of weeds as tall as giraffes, if you took a walk to the bottom you would almost need a GPS to get back to the relative safety of the house...

We brought in a team of pros to clear it, party because we had no idea where to start and party because we didn’t have the gear. It took them the best part of a long day, lots of machinery and a huge bonfire, at the end of which we had a very barren patch of land.

The next issue we had was what to do with it. It was almost level and the thought of leveling it out so that it was completely flat and making a croquet lawn passed through my head … not for long though, then came a grass tennis court – that idea went in and out as fast as a flash of lightning in a raging storm.

My husband had more practical plans. He wanted to make a deck, his plan was to use old wooden pallets … he even went as far as convincing a friend of ours to help him find a whole heap of them … one day I went home to discover that over 30 pallets had arrived in our garden; my husband wagging his tail, came over to explain his grand plan. Then armed with a youtube video and the tools the nice American lady on youtube had told him to buy, he promptly started to pull the pallets all apart.

It turns out that pallets which have sat in the sun and then the rain for a few years are not the best pallets to use - the nice American lady in the video forgot to point this out. After a couple of days of hard work, sweat, lots of splinters and a little bit of swearing he had managed to destroy most of the planks. The planks he had which were in good condition were nowhere near good enough to make a deck. The idea was then put on hold.

Then I had a rather crazy idea. I, who knew nothing about gardening, would grow a garden! This I thought would be a genius ides, everyone else seemed to manage why couldn’t I?  I consulted a well regarded font of knowledge … the world wide web, the web in its wisdom pointed me on to a string of videos, youtube, e-how, gardeners’ world, they all had useful tips on how to grow a garden.

I had decided that the garden should be useful and I was only going to plant things that would taste good. I mentioned this idea when it was still in its infancy to my grandfather who claimed, at the time, to know nothing about gardens and who then called back with all sorts of tips and gardening trivia which had come back to him. He obviously liked the idea as the next thing I knew a parcel the size of shoe box had arrived at my office.  It seems that he had been to the garden center and bought a whole heap of seeds for us. There were, tomato, green pea, parsley, basil, chives, onions, carrots, lettuce, dwarf beans, runner beans, rocket seeds and a whole heap more in the parcel.

I got home that night and presented the seeds to my husband. We both decided that we had the space so why not give it a try. And try we did. I followed the instructions on the packets and then realised that they had been written for the much much cooler region of the arctic United Kingdom and my island with its 300 days of sunshine might change the environmental factors a bit.

I planted the seeds and waited, the packets said three to four weeks, obviously I had seeds with super powers! I didn’t have to wait too long and within a week there was a hive of activity in the little pots. After three weeks I realised that I had probably been carried away with my planting. I had thought that I would plant everything and perhaps if I was lucky I would get about 20% of the seeds to germinate, it turns out that my fingers are slightly greener than I thought. I think I managed about 95%!

To cut a long story short I had to replant 42 tomato plants into the garden as being super plants, they had outgrown their pots … I say I had to plant them out but really it was a team effort. My husband agreed to help me, of course he was the muscle and was set to digging, he did think that he was only digging a few holes and he was not best pleased to discover he had over 40 to dig. Tempted as I imagine he was not to be apart of the digging team, he soldiered on – the ground was clay, it was sun baked and as hard as concrete – it was not easy going. Yet after a lot of work, with him jumping on the spade like an enraged baboon to break the surface, which to be honest would have been hard work for a jack hammer intended to break tar roads, we eventually had them all in.

I then continued with the gardening. Gardening is a lot of work in order for things to look pretty and to have a chance of actually producing food like items. You have to go out there every day to dig out the weeds, feed the plants plant food, make sure that they have water and in a way I think you have to talk to them, convince them that they should grow and that if they are going to take them time to grow that they should make very yummy babies!

My husband retuned to youtube and again surfaced with a huge grin on his face and another shopping list. Off he went to the tool shop. A few days later I got home to discover that he had put his pallet planks to good use and had made me some rather cool plant boxes, he had even gone as far as to paint them for me. We put them into the garden and filled them with soil, then carefully selected the plants that we thought would grow.

My Granny wanted in on the action, she had heard about my garden through the family grape vine and had decided to send me some seeds too. My parents, who came to stay a little while ago, came armed with all sorts of toys. In amongst them was an envelope from Granny with a huge pile of seeds … this started phase two of planting. This time it was more tomatoes, cucumbers, coriander, peppers and a whole load more. My Mum and I planted all these out into pots and under various trees in the garden.  The once jungle of weeds was now a jungle of vegetables.

The garden has been busy sprouting all sorts of things. We have enjoyed very peppery rocket, lettuce, peas, basil, mint, and coriander. In amongst all the spewing of vegetables the garden has also attracted other visitors. While my husband was away a rather large hedgehog came to say hello in the middle of the night. My plant nursery is right beside our bedroom, I keep the windows open at night to let the cool air into a house which, until last week didn’t have any air-conditioning and was a touch on the warm side at night. I was woken up in the middle of the night by some sort of scuffling, I opened my eyes to see what I thought was the largest rat in the whole entire world! A little bit freaked I turned the lights on only to discover that the rat was actually a hedgehog and it was as startled to find me as I was to find it. It hung around for a while and then disappeared off into the night. 

The garden is growing up fast, a few days ago I very excitedly, like a young child, ran up to my husband to show off the first of the tomatoes, they were small and bright red – success for it they had been purple I would have been worried! I can’t wait for the rest to be ready but I have also realised that when they are ready, we – my husband and I - are going to go red, eating the produce of 42 plants before they go off! I have been looking into things that I can do with them, so far I have other than the obvious (eating them) been jarring and drying them … any ideas are welcomed!! 

1 comment:

  1. What a great publication !!! I live in Western Crete and have had big problems with rodents eating my tomatoes etc... It is soul destroying to grow a tiny seed to a ripening fruit only for it to be eaten overnight.