So last year, I went pumpkin picking (and had the best time) and I saved the seeds. I dried them and kept them safe in a jar, with the intention of planting them this year. I love Autumn and Halloween so growing my own pumpkins sounded like such a good plan! I wasn’t sure if the seeds would germinate and grow when I started them off inside, earlier in this Covid lockdown, but they did, and I was thrilled. So much so, that when a local garden nursery opened back up, I bought some more vegetable seedlings and created myself a small vegetable patch. It has not exactly gone to plan, got to be real with y’all! But there are some improvements and I feel so proud to even have just started to grow some of my own food for the first time.
I planted everything outside at the end of May, and I wanted to just write about what I’m growing and what I’ve learnt in the weeks since. I’ve mainly learnt from advice from others and from the RHS and Gardeners Word websites.
My biggest problem to be perfectly honest is the slugs! I’ve tried everything. I don’t want to use slug pellets because of the wildlife and the chemicals, so I’ve tried straw mulch (think this is helping keep the ground moist which in turn is jsut encouraging them), beer traps (trying not to hurt living things but literally was at my wits end), coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, and they are still enjoying munching on my veggies plants! The beer traps have slowed down the population, but certainly haven’t eliminated them. If anyone reading this has some advice, please let me know! I’ve also tried encouraging hedgehogs to eat them – hedgehog house, food, shallow dish of water, holes under the gate and fence, wild areas for them to hide, but so far nothing seems to be working. I’m still trying to stay positive and learn for next year, and just hope that some of my vegetables grow.
My pumpkin plants are doing pretty well, except for some of the leaves being attacked by the slugs! I have since put my rosemary plant next to the pumpkins as slugs aren’t supposed to like them! Flower buds are starting to appear, as are some vines, so I’m really hopeful. Even if I get at least one small pumpkin I will be so happy!
I am so proud of my little tomato plant – one little tomato is starting to grow! This tomato plant was tiny when it was first planted. As it grew, it started to tilt to one side, so I have secured it with two bamboo canes. I’ve also been trimming the lower stems off to ensure all the nutrients go to the fruits.
Three of my pea plants are doing well – the other two have been stunted by, yet again, the dreaded slugs! Flowers are beginning to appear, so I am looking forward to the possibility of having some fresh garden peas.
The corn! I love fresh corn. I have grown them in a block together as that is supposed to help them wind-pollinate. They seem to be growing well, and I’ve secured them with canes as they grow taller. I think I may have planted them a little late, but we’ll see how they go.
Parsnip. These I am growing from seed! They are supposed to be very winter resistant and actually become sweeter after they have been hit by frost. I’m hoping to try them with a lovely winter roast!
Beetroot. The leaves are being well eaten but I’m looking forward to when it’s time to pull them up!
Spinach, Kale and Courgette. I’ve grouped these together because they have been absolutely decimated by slugs. I’m going to try again with these! In the future, I will use large growing containers and raised beds, and do a bit more research on deterring slugs! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I also have my little herb garden, which I actually love! Using fresh herbs in my cooking has been so wonderful and you barely need to use any for the flavours to come through. It’s also so much better than buying loads of little jars. I have Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Fennel, Oregano, Chamomile, Garlic Chives, Tarragon, Sage, Parsley and a Chilli plant. I will bring this back inside after the Summer, as I know it won’t survive colder temperatures. I’m really lucky to have a utility room where I can keep them.
I’ve got a little Strawberry plant growing (again, one strawberry started to grow and it was eaten, though I think it was a bird, so I don’t mind as much). For next year, I have a proper Strawberry planter, so watch this space for next Summer’s luscious strawberries and subsequent scones, cakes, jams, etc! (I hope)
Hubby has also joined me in the garden! He’s very proud of our wild blackberries and is keeping them pruned and well looked after. He’s also planted blueberries, raspberries and lots of lavender!
We also have lots of plants and wildflowers now growing in our garden. We said all along that we wanted to keep some of our garden wild for the wildlife and ecosystems, and we have enjoyed watching the bees and butterflies enjoy them, as well as having the excitement at seeing what would grow! We have some nice potted plants too to bring colour to the garden and again encourage those lovely pollinators!
We’ve had successes and failures but it’s all a learning curve! I can’t wait to prep everything throughout the winter and grow even more next year. I’m definitely going to move a lot of my veggie-growing to containers and raised beds, and to other areas of the garden going forward.
It’s been a very uncertain scary time for us all this year, and spending time outside has really made me feel good. I feel more at home with nature and I love that I have become so outdoor-sy.
I’ll update at some point if I have any veggie successes!
Have you been gardening or enjoying time outside when possible during this lockdown? Or do you have any stories/tip/tricks on vegetable growing? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!