I’ve been getting a little over excited at the prospect of our veg patch. I’m really looking forward to having it right outside our door, so once the kids are tucked up and in the land of nod I will be able to head out to the garden, water the plants and potter away those long summer nights (which, at the moment, seem so far away). I’ve also been quite excited about the idea of just being able to garden whilst the kids play in the garden and keep themselves amused. But then I remember, they’re 2 and 3, and are rubbish at keeping themselves amused. Our gardening exploits so far have been hindered by the children pretending that, of course they will happily play on the pirate ship that Santa so thoughtfully provided them with (thanks again grandparents) but the minute we’re all outside they demand to be up on the patch with us, ‘helping’. Their help generally consists of them asking to be allowed to dig, we provide them with appropriate sized tools (whilst they eye up our tools) and give them a spot to dig. But they don’t want to dig where we ask them to. They want to dig exactly where we are, or hide right behind us, in almost exactly the perfect spot to be knocked out by us wielding forks and spades, trying to get massive rocks out of the ground. Eventually after much pleading with them, it generally ends with them threatening each other with their trowels, or trying to push each other through the chicken wire fence, and being frogmarched off the patch whilst howling with indignation at how unfair life is (both them and me). Saying all that though, we think we might have found the perfect occupation for them- raking over the ground which we’ve dug, although of course they still regularly battle over whose turn it is with the rake.
Undeterred by all this though, we have been stocking up on plenty of seeds for when the veg patch is finally revealed in all its glory. We now have enough seeds to take on any small greengrocer, once all the veg has grown (which of course it will). We’re planning on growing quite a range, from the abundantly cropping courgette, peas, runner beans, broad beans and potatoes to things we’ve never grown before, including sweetcorn, butternut squash, swede and pumpkins, to asparagus which we’re going to need a bit of patience for, as they take a couple of years to start producing a decent crop. We’re also giving growing tomatoes outdoors a go, we’ve tried this once before with very little success, but there are a few sunny spots which we’re hoping will be warm enough to ripen the tomatoes. We’re also going to be growing sweet peas, as I love cutting them and filling the house with their gorgeous fragrance which just screams summer, and sunflowers for the kids to grow and compete over who can get the tallest flower. And as well as all this, we have cabbages, carrots, onions, garlic, rocket, mixed salad leaves, cauliflower and leeks, and probably some more that I’ve forgotten.
I’ve still to plan the plot out properly, making sure that everything gets the right amount of sun, shade or shelter as required. But again undeterred (and slightly impatient) and keen to keep the momentum up on the patch, I’ve already planted a few cauliflower and leek seeds.
I’ve planted them in a propagator in my workshop, although I’ve not put the heat on yet, wanting to see how they do just undercover for starters. I know they might not actually do anything, as it is still quite early for sowing seeds, but we have more than enough seeds to do another lot in a month or so if nothing happens, and I won’t be aiming to actually plant them out for another six weeks to two months anyway (and even then, under some cloches made from our plastic milk bottles, to protect them from frosts we’re still sure to be getting), and I will just pot them up when they get to a transplantable size. Even if they are successful, I plan to do another lot of cauliflower seeds in a month, so I can do a bit of successional sowing to make sure we don’t just get one batch. I’ll be aiming to do this with quite a lot of other things, to make the growing season last as long as possible.
Fingers crossed ours is going to be a very busy veg patch, and I’m going to be a very busy grower, and I can’t wait.