A Smashing Vegetable Garden

Having used an inordinate amount of space on this blog lately to rant about the government and its plans for our money – whether to pay back its borrowings by working us to the death or keeping MPs in moats, trouser presses and toilet seats – I thought it was time for a change of pace this week. Actually, DJ told me that for my own sanity – and his – I wasn’t to read anything else about MPs’ expenses over the weekend and that, instead, I had to spend ­­­­­­­quality time in the garden. Very sensible advice, if you ask me. Not only is working in our back garden relaxing and good exercise, but there was an awful lot to do, anyway.

My potatoes were taking a bit of a battering in the wind – not unlike Michael Martin, the Commons’ Speaker, I thought – and had started to dry out, so I gave them a good watering and topped them up with some more compost. I swear they seem to grow a few more inches every day. They are enormous. Meanwhile the pumpkin, courgette, squash and cucumber seeds I planted a few weeks ago have also gone ape. After some of the geranium seeds I sowed didn’t come up, DJ advised me to plant at least two vegetable seeds in case I experienced the same problems. But there was nothing wrong with the seed stock in this instance, so now I have two of everything fighting for space. I’ve been busy repotting the squash, courgette and pumpkin plants in readiness for hardening them off and then planting them out in my vegetable plot. I can’t wait until the fruit starts growing on them. I can’t think of anything cooler than growing your own pumpkin. I thought I might try and feed it some homemade beer and see if that helps. I remember seeing somebody do that once on a programme about monster vegetables. Let me know if you’re tried it.

We’ve already got loads of different cucumber plant varieties as DJ is also growing a number of them, so he advised me to pinch the extra ones out. I’m growing a green house variety and as we don’t have any neighbours with a green house to swap them with, I’m afraid the spares wound up in the compost heap. I felt pretty mean doing it, I must say, but there is only so much room. The green house is teeming with DJ’s 21 tomato plants, which are already flowering, and the sunflowers for his work’s competition to grow the tallest sunflower. But my spare courgette, squash and pumpkin plants looked so vigorous that I just couldn’t bear to do away with them so callously. I will either try to foist them on my neighbour or find homes for them elsewhere in the garden if I can.

While the vegetable plot is going great guns with cabbages, purple sprouting broccoli, broad beans and peas all flourishing, we had a bit of a disaster with the green house itself last week. DJ had had a bad day so he decided to take his frustrations out on the lawn, thinking the fresh air would do him good. Sadly, he’d barely started mowing when he accidentally smashed a large pane of glass in the green house. At first I wondered if it was a symbolic attempt to demonstrate artistically, albeit on a smaller scale, how broken the House of Commons is, but apparently a stone simply ricocheted off the lawnmower. DJ’s rung around for some quotes and it will cost £45 to replace. Oops. Not very frugal. Now, if I were an MP, I’d be putting my claim together right now…

Do you grow your own veg, fruit or flowers? How is your garden coming along this year? Leave a comment and let me know.

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9 Responses to A Smashing Vegetable Garden

  1. Laura says:

    You should have advertised you extra vegetables on freecycle.I\’m sure someone would of been glad of them 🙂

  2. Christine says:

    You are right Laura, people around here snap up excess plants advertised on freecycle – they go in hours. Spare plants also go great guns on an advert in the local shop window or in the local newspaper under the free ads section. There are always people who will take swaps and left over seeds to save them money in the garden. Especially serious gardeners. I never have a problem with gluts of plants as there is always someone nearby who will take the excess! And return something later in the season from a different glut that they have. Mind you I\’m getting wise as to how much will fit into the allotment now and don\’t often come up with too many.I\’m not too sure that growing your own is totally frugal unless you are very strict with yourself. It\’s very easy to plant too many seeds (don\’t ask about red cabbages!) or to overestimate the space that you have. The real costs are the hidden ones. Like the glass in the greenhouse, repairs or replacements on tools, compost you have to buy in because you can\’t make enough of your own or can\’t obtain free manure or whatever. If you actually sit down and list everything you have bought for the garden over a year it will shock you completely and make you seriously wonder if the effort is worth it. However if you factor in the time spent actually working in the garden rather than using electricity watching the telly or going out (cost of petrol, cost of a meal, cost of whatever) you come up with a much more balanced view of things. You at least have some hens which will provide some manure for the beds.I reckon to make about £10 a week on produce every week of the year from the allotment which is at slightly more than split even point. Next year with all the serious spending done (fruit trees, raspberry canes, tools, canes and netting which can be reused) and left over seeds it will be a very profitable plot.I find that the serious allotment holders here go on holiday in the off season when there is very little to be done so that they also save money on their holidays and don\’t miss any of the produce grown.

  3. piper says:

    Good idea. Looks like we might have to sacrifice a few tomato plants too as there is now so little room in the green house, so might be trying the Freecycle approach! Thanks.

  4. miro says:

    Dig for victory.The war is back, I presume.Good idea to grow your own, if you know your carrot from a turnip.Better still, go and pick your own down on the farm.Very cheap and a good exercise too.It may also help the Poles to find a job at home.

  5. miro says:

    Furthermore:If you live so frugally, how can you spend 45 pounds on a small piece of glass?The merchant must be laughing all the way to the bank, (or is he now stashing it under his pillow??)Replace it with plastic, not as nice but,(it will not be broken by a stone) and as they say:Do not throw stones when living in a glass house!

  6. piper says:

    It\’s quite a large piece of glass actually – hence the problem – but will suggest the plastic to DJ.

  7. Bill says:

    Hi piper!Have you tried the local demolition sites, sorry, redevelopment. It is always possible that you could rescue a suitable sheet of glass, even if you need to cut it down to size.Have you voted Gordon Brown & co out yet?http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/GoToCountryNow/?signed=e7cfcf1.f820d4Sign up now to avoid the rush!

  8. john says:

    I work for a glazing company in Harlow, Essex and the largest greenhouse pane we sell are £11.00 these are 730mm x 1420More standard sizes are 610mm x 610mm – £4.00 each and 610mm x 457mm – £3.00 eachAnyone interested just ask and I will give the company name out

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