Jul 312020
A Tour of My Vegetable Garden

Raised bed in July

I thought it would be fun to do a virtual tour of my vegetable garden for 2020! This is the first year I’ve grown a garden, and I wasn’t intending on growing more than a few tomato plants, but the pandemic encouraged me to use my spare time to grow food and spend time outside. Some of the vegetables I tried growing were experiments, such as growing lentils from dried cupboard staples, and re-growing food scraps; I’ll talk more about this in a future post. Otherwise, I managed to get some vegetable seeds and grew most of these indoors, later transplanting the seedlings in April and May.

For more on gardening see: My Flower Show – A Tour of the Flowers in my Garden and How to Compost

Biggest Challenges

I’m happy to report that overall, I had success! My two main hurdles in the garden are slugs and snails, and wind gusts. I eventually caved and bought some organic slug pellets because no matter how much I tried picking up the snails, drowning the slugs in yeast mix, and using barrier methods, most of my seedlings were being decimated.

Similarly, I had a lot of difficulties with wind. Even though I bought a metal and plastic mini-greenhouse to protect the tomatoes from gusts, this turned into a giant wind sock and I spent many hours securing it to the house with rope. Since the sides were plastic, they bashed against the plants and probably did more harm than good. After a couple of wind storms, which the BBC forecast as “fresh breeze”, I lost a lot of the leaves and flower buds on my tomatoes, though they somewhat recovered. My plan is to invest in a ventilated glass greenhouse in the future.

Greenhouse wind shield

Finally, I should note that I didn’t have enough decent size containers to pot on all my seedlings. I honestly didn’t expect them all to thrive so my advice is to be a bit braver than I was and compost the weakest seedlings.

How did I grow my vegetables?

All my vegetables were grown from either seeds or scraps, and I stuck to organic fertiliser such as blood and bone, and liquid seaweed. Our soil – if it can even be called that – is terrible! It’s rock solid with clay and is full of debris like stones and brick chunks. Combined with the slug/snail onslaught, there would have been little point growing directly in the ground. Hence, I purchased a square raised bed and several containers, and filled them with compost and manure. The raised bed is covered in netting because the neighbour’s cat hates us and poops all over our yard – including outside the front door! The netting also protects the cabbage from butterflies.

Raised Bed

My garden is therefore classified as a suburban container garden, and it’s been fairly bountiful! For watering, we either use the hose, the water butt, or rainwater captured in containers, though thankfully it’s rained a fair amount this summer. I hope this post and future posts will provide helpful tips on how and what to grow from seed in containers!

A Tour of My Vegetable Garden
Grown from purchased seed
  • Carrots – I’m not sure if these are successful yet. The first crop was eaten by snails, but the second crop grown in a felted grow bag seems promising.
  • Cherry Tomatoes (tumbler determinate variety) – Tomatoes are very high maintenance in the wind, but these are a delicious and bountiful crop!

Tomato Plant

  • Courgette (zucchini) – Always reliable… courgette with every meal!

Courgette

  • Mixed lettuce – I had good success with this mix, though it prefers partial shade. Lettuce is a great option for containers.
  • Pea Shoots – I grew pea shoots in re-used berry punnets with great success. These are great in sandwiches!
  • Potatoes (earlies – Charlotte) – I purchased seed potatoes at the beginning of March and I harvested the first container too soon in May, with a poor yield. The second container was harvested in June and had a decent yield!

Potato Crop

  • Radishes – I planted two types of standard red globe radish and sewed multiple times, with very little success. I ended up with lots of leafy tops, but only one or two roots. Suggestions on how to fix this are most welcome!
  • Scarlet Runner Beans – I grew an heirloom variety of runner bean in a large container. The twig frame I built wasn’t big enough but the beans were nonetheless keen climbers. Unfortunately, the leaves were decimated by snails and possibly butterflies. It had lots of blooms but they didn’t set and the three plants yielded only a few beans.
  • Snap Peas – A winner! Had the highest yield in the garden.
  • Spinach – I started five plants indoors and they had a good yield, but bolted in the May heat. I’m growing more for autumn harvest.
Vegetables grown from scraps
  • Cabbage – 1 behemoth grown from scrap spring green. Don’t try this if you’re short on space – the cabbage is taking over!
  • Celery – not successful
  • Chickpeas – Fun to grow from dried cupboard staple, but not a high yield
  • Green onion – It’s best to re-grow your spring onion scraps in soil rather than just water
  • Leeks – not successful
  • Lemon – Technically a fruit tree, but I have a few tiny lemon plants grown from scrap seeds
  • Puy and brown lentils – 4 lentils yielded 200 puy lentils. A fun experiment and they tasted nice, but not worth the space.
  • Red bell peppers – I planted too many seeds and have about 20 pepper plants. Surprisingly, they all have flowers and a tiny pepper is growing!
  • Queen Squash Pumpkin – Taking over the garden, yield tbd.
  • Vine tomatoes (unknown, but probably determinate variety) – Again, planted to many seeds, but they seemed to work!

Bell Pepper Plant

Herbs

We already have chives, lemon verbena, and rosemary and I grew a few more herbs:

  • Basil – I split a supermarket basil plant into several containers
  • Chives – Haven’t had much success growing from seed
  • Cilantro – Lesson learned, it bolts in heat. Plant your cilantro in partial shade and watch out for aphids.
  • Mint – I painstakingly removed the mint from the garden that the previous owners had let take over (never plant mint direct!) and put it in a pot
  • Tarragon – I got one harvest out of it and then the leaves went all silvery and it got infested with bugs
  • Thyme – I think it will take several years to get big enough to harvest.
Edible/Utility Flowers
  • Calendula – Will attempt to dry and use in cosmetics
  • Nastertians – These are among the winners of the garden. We had many salads with the leaves and flowers, and the bees loved them too! Best grown in containers in partial shade.
  • Sunflowers – These ended up being smaller than anticipated because I grew them in a container to keep away the slugs. Still got eaten, still cheerful…

Sunflowers

What will I grow in Autumn?

My plan is to grow perpetual spinach and rainbow chard through the winter in the raised bed. Wish me luck!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of my vegetable garden. What did your grow this year?

Lettuce and Sweetpeas
Mixed lettuce and sweet peas in May

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Reader Comments

  1. Nice to see all the greenery! You’ve been busy 🙂
    I can highly recommend a greenhouse if you have space. I inherited one in this house, we don’t maintain it at all, generally leave the door open and have one of those automatic window openers, and it’s grand. The toms LOVE it in there, also cucumbers though they seem fine outside too.

  2. Oh and yes, I totally feel your pain about the slugs and snails, and about getting rid of weaker seedlings. I struggle with my feelings regarding both!

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