One of my great passions is gardening. I have dabbled with growing herbs and veg for just over 10 years now. Pre children, i spent all my spare cash on plants for the garden in our rented flat. I even managed to bring some favourites with me when we finally moved out of London in the late 90's.
This year my husband has taken an interest in the garden too, which has been great as keeping on top of it with the children still young and with running a business has been pretty difficult.
As we were flooded in freak weather in 2006, we decided to raise the old veg beds and built some very tall beds from oak sleepers. My man built another raised bed for salads nearer the house. The greenhouse was tidied, staging built and we happily sowed away.
It has been a trial and error year and I would like to share with you our attempts ...
Our first harvests were from Lollo Rosso lettuce, rocket ( really easy and really tasty), spring onions, basil and spinach (good for a bit and then bolted).
We then enjoyed some fruit; raspberries, gooseberries and alpine strawberries.. only a few of each but still great.
The potatoes came next and we were lucky that as the beds were raised so high, the damp weather didn't spoil them.
This was our alien potato.The dwarf french beans were our favourite crop of all.. so fresh and enjoyed by the whole family (good yeild over a long period for only six plants).
The carrots actually grew (a first for me!). They were of variable sizes but the earlier ones could have been sweeter. The spot we grew them in was not in direct sun so we wondered wether they needed more light? We had some this weekend and they were better.
The veg which did really well were the courgettes.. almost too many to eat and many turned into marrows whilst we were on our holiday. I did find a good recipe this book..
' Courgettes Parmigiana'.About 3lb courgettes cut diagonally and blanched for 3-4mins, drained, then arranged in layers (as in a lasagna) with fresh tomato sauce and then sliced mozzarello (each layer seasoned well) and then topped with grated parmesan and drizzled with olive oil. All baked at gas 4/ 180c for 40-45 mins. It was so easy to do and tasted really good.
We also have a large clump of rhubarb in the garden and have made fruit crumble a few times too. Crumble is my all time favourite pudding and in times of low moods (i get a few of these from time to time), my mum will always find an excuse to make me a blackberry and apple crumble (my most favourite). A small morello cherry tree gave us and the birds a few fruits too.
The crop which failed dismally for us were the tomatoes. I had sown gardener's delight and my man sowed Super Marmande beef tomatoes. Firstly we grew too many, and found it hard to care for them all, and secondly the they hated the wet and most got brown patches on their stems and got blighted so we had to dig them up. We were pleased to hear we wern't the only ones and even Monty said the tomatoes at Berryfield were a disaster.
Our final crop to harvest is sweetcorn. We barbequed our first cobs today and they really were the best we'd ever tasted. They do say that sweetcorn is best picked and eaten straight away and it seems to be true.
We still have ridge cucmbers going strong, some blackberries (thornless ones planted by me for the girls), more courgettes, a few salads, garlic and these bannana peppers.
All in all a good year .. i think next year we should plan for leeks and parsnips .. two of my favourites and romanesco.. but one thing at a time ...
It still amazes us that all this comes from tiny planted seeds ..So i want to say thanks for the harvest from our garden this year and how enjoyable it has been to share this new adventure with my husband. Our girls have really enjoyed helping too, especially picking the goodies.
If you have any veg/harvest stories or advice to share please do leave a comment.. i'd love to hear how this year is going for you..
Have a good week.