Lessons Learnt

Following on from a year of half-hearted effort and poor results, I promised myself that I would give as much time as possible to my garden in 2017. I began gardening on 5th January and found the enjoyment in drinking a hot cup of tea in the cold, pottering around in the wintery space.

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It was the first year that I had sown sweetpeas and I did this in my shed in late January using old toilet roll innards in a tray. These sat on my kitchen windowsill and were growing well by February.

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I spent much time pondering over seed catalogues and making plans and when the first bright weekend was forecast I emptied and cleaned my polytunnel ready for a new growing year.

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I started sowing lots of seeds in the polytunnel and ordered some new seating for the garden – a two-seater bench and a picnic table.  I spent some time in February painting them up with my favourite Cuprinol paint.

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By March, the Purple Sprouting Broccoli I had sown the previous year was ready for picking! It was absolutely delicious.

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Whilst the daffodils and tulips were popping up around the garden, I was busy tidying up the fairy garden and adding some new alpines and a little solar house.

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I began trying to perfect my lawn stripes and took every moment I could to potter around the garden, pulling up weeds and admiring the spring flowers, while continuing to sow more seeds as the weather warmed.

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All the early efforts began to pay off as I watched things blooming all around me. The excitement I felt at the sight of the first pea shoots was slightly embarrassing!

I planted out my seedlings in the raised bed a little early as I was eager to get them in the ground. Some floundered a little but thankfully I had kept some growing on in the polytunnel just in case, so I was able to replace them.

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I transplanted my sweetpeas into a basket and couldn’t believe how many flowers I was picking from them. The more you pick, the more they grow.

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After a little holiday in May half term, leaving my lovely dad to pop round and water, I came home to blooming flowers and growing veg. It surprised me how much things had grown in a week when I hadn’t been monitoring them every day. I planted out my lettuces and potted on cucamelons for the first time.

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Unfortunately, there had been some slug and pigeon damage so we made a makeshift covering with nets to keep them away.

I worked hard to clean and clear the patio and brick paths of the never ending weeds using water from a pressure washer as I don’t like to use weedkiller. It’s a battle you can’t ever really win but can stay on top of with enough effort.

Into July, we were picking lettuce, kale, tomatoes, borlotti beans, courgettes, rhubarb, strawberries and, best of all, the peas! I absolutely fell in love with shelling peas for the freezer and knew that I would grow more the following year.

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I’d ordered some plug plants of Cosmos ‘Purity’ for the first time too and discovered a new love.

Then we had our summer holiday leaving my dad in charge for another week. Unfortunately, he had a bad back at the time and could just about manage to water the garden on hot days but missed the fact that the caterpillars were literally taking over the veg patch. One of my side nets had bigger holes and had allowed the butterflies to fly right in and lay there eggs. Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts were utterly decimated. There were hundreds of caterpillars. I can’t deny I was absolutely gutted. At first I couldn’t bring myself to do anything, but in the end I went out and pulled everything up and put it on the compost heap. It was a hard lesson.

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Although it was a bad year for cucumbers (I think I picked one from seven plants), the tomatoes did not let me down and I had my first go at making tomato chutney.

The cosmos were putting on a beautiful display well into autumn until a very windy night cut the plant down. We made the most of them by filling jars all over the house.

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Autumn saw me sowing hardy annuals in the triangle bed – calendula, cornflower and larkspur; and pulling up the last of the spindly carrots (due to lack of thinning – another lesson).

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I planted up lots of spring bulbs knowing that they would cheer me into next year. Around the purple bench I planted as many daffodil bulbs in the grass as I could fit in. The tulips went into pots so that I would be able to enjoy them from my kitchen window. Then I put the garden to bed for another year.

 

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