E32 – W21
“How is the gardening coming along?” Someone recently asked me in an email. “We haven’t seen regular updates like last year and where are the miniseries? I answered with it’s been a complicated year and we are not even at the half way mark yet.
Has though, hasn’t it? Been a strange year already – l started the year with a series entitled ‘Plenty for 20’ which started on January 1st and continued till 3rd February where it stopped for the first half of the year – it will continue again in October – l mean that alone as a series was hyperfocusing on just the blog and a lot has happened in-blog already.
But the year too from January to now here in later May has seen incredible changes from adverse weather conditions around the world – to a major pandemic crisis with thousands upon thousands of deaths internationally , with countries being in major lockdown mode, economies crashing, greedy tyrant type government figures playing the political joker game with the human element. Huge changes to our environment and climate controls and the list goes on on that level.
Ava has really come into her own this season and is in full growing mode – very pleased with her recovery still.
On a personal closer to home basis l have lost my best friend – Scrappy, and my relationship is now in a strange kind of limbo due to lockdown with Suze and l a couple of seven and a half years sharing our last year together as a couple under the same roof. Next year we will still be friends and buddies but living in different houses and having different gardens. That’s a lot all by itself to take on board never mind everything else which trust me makes an impact on you as a person.
Furthermore this year has been both remarkable and indelible with regards the gardening side to things – l started a project called 366 Days of Gardening to celebrate the leap year and worked hard in the garden preparing a project for two people to enjoy as a hobby and whilst YES two people are still working the garden – with everything that has already occured this year – those two people are no longer a couple sharing a hobby just two friends realising that the garden has become ‘just too much’.
But take away the emotional side to the garden – there are two distinct areas 1] is the green growing of gardening and 2] is the brown composting of decay or end of green life in gardening. I am still religiously turning the compost and whatever happens – as in – be the compost stays here or we take the composts with us – we do have an exceedingly great black gold commodity!
Admittedly we have struggled to maintain our enthusiasm for the green garden this year considering we have finally managed to take a beaten up garden from July 2016 and together we have now got a beautiful garden that wildlife adores to visit – that is a huge achievement. Secondly with the fabulous compost, we have a sensational growing medium but as great as the garden is .. now it is viewed as just a content producing chore which is a great shame.
Suze however is a champ and has been out there planting and transplanting from the green house to the garden – a lot more of the plants have been given away this year.
But as a garden it also still takes a lot of time to weed, prepare, water and manage and maintain – basically like most gardeners will tell you – gardening is time consuming. It’s also hard to retain motivation when you know the garden is to be broken down and this is the final season.
Once however l have managed to get the blog to where it needs to be ‘Table Wise’ with the new changes l will have the confidence to start producing posts again that don’t hopefully take me half a day to write because of a new editor in situ! The mini-series will recommence and hopefully more regular garden updates will be able to start again.
Now all the actual realities aside – the garden this year has both peaked and troughed in growing and seedling production … l take the responsibility of maybe planting too early in the season for some crops – but then again this year has been different to previous seasons and years where planting early has only served the plots well.
The ornamental side of the garden as well as the herb garden side are doing really well – they are filled with lush growth and beautiful greens as you can see below ….
This year however planting some vegetables too early has been a major problem … but then again we have been experiencing a lot of different weather fronts where we are here in East Kent which we haven’t seen here in of the four years we have been in residence. We have had sudden drops in temperatures including arctic winds, severe winds and strange rain showers. Additionally we are experiencing much higher salt ratios in both the air and the water levels … l think that might be because of the environment being cleaner.
The runner beans, French beans and sweet peas are seriously struggling to grow this year.
This year the runner beans and French beans have seriously struggled to grow outside of the green house. The green house is new as you will recall, we set it up one week prior to the UK lockdown on March 23rd. It holds a great fixed temperature there whereas the temperatures outside are not controlled. Perhaps this has damaged the growing chances of the bean crops … l know not. But only in the last few days and especially with this heat we are experiencing are they starting to develop.
The courgettes and cucumbers have all struggled in the black environmental bags and yet if we transfer them to ceramics posts – they all start to grow again – you can see a significant difference from the front Courgette to the ones behind.
Things we have both noticed that we have not been overly happy with however is/are the environmental pots be these growing pots or seedling pots as well as the fabric bags we don’t believe are ideal – be this for this garden or anyone’s garden we don’t know yet – but nothing seemingly enjoys growing in them here in this garden. We will NOT be using eco friendly next year sadly.
What has done seriously well have been the salad beds – those small raised beds l bought a few months ago – they were planted with wok boks, pak chois, rockets, mustard greens, beetroots, spinach, chards, radish and spring onions. They have awarded us some very nice and fresh salad greens this year and if you keep on top of your cut often strategy, they will keep growing back.
A rich and fresh mixture of salad greens – wild rocket, radish [leaves can be eaten also], spinach, mustard greens. We have been harvesting off various greens for a couple of weeks now – what isn’t eaten on the day of harvest is washed and frozen.
The beds are performing very well this year and their growth is constant – most of the time the beds are under nets as the starlings, blackbirds and pigeons ALL like a bit of salad to add to their daily diet!
The two small wooden boxes used for the carrots, celery, lambs lettuce, raindow chards are all doing very well. But all raised beds where possible have to be netted.
The larger raised beds – like the smaller beds have performed very well also – the garlic and kale bed is thriving and the mixed beds are the same … in fact the only thing not thriving this year has been anything growing in eco friendly fabric pots or round plastic pots the latter especially is quite baffling due to previous years when the growth inside the pots has been brilliant.
Garlic, kales, leeks, spring onion, turnip,giant parsley, fennel, beetroot, kohl rabi, purple sprouting and onions are all performing marvelously in the raised beds.
Plants ordered long ago back in January and February – [long before lockdowns were imposed] are still delayed and both Suze and l now suspect we have been financially duped! No one answers from so called regular suppliers – we think its a case of greed taking the orders but not having the goods to furnish or like us – crops suffering due to either poor weathers or maybe furloughed staffing. Somewhat disappointing if honest.
Because of this – planned in gardens simply cannot work as plants either turn up horribly late and have missed the sowing starts or have not turned up at all which hinders everything.
The back garden is doing well horseradish, rhubarbs, potatoes and giant mustards, whilst the pak choi and spinaches are doing very well in the ceramic troughs – the patio garden strawberries, mints and lavenders are now just starting to growth spurt.
The French Beans and sunflowers growing along the back fence up the natural twigs are finally starting to show some enthusiasm. Whilst the sweet potatoe shoots that arrived a couple of weeks ago in a badly beat up packaged state are slowing coming good – l doubt we will see a crop this year from them though.
The Patio garden – Cape Gooseberries [small coloured ceramic pots] after weeks are finally starting to grow – the two out of three ordered blueberry bushes arrived in a battered state indeed, but are now starting to respond to Suze’s TLC. Tomato plants arrived ten days ago in good shape and like everything else here are now showing encouraged signs of growth.
In all the garden this year has been troubled and weary despite all the good intentions for it to grow up hardy. But this is gardening … there is never any guarantee to success – you do what you can, control where you can … but ultimately in the end – you just hope for the best!
Anyway, there we go, another update from Project Garden, thanks for both visiting and reading! Catch you next time! Rory