So here we are in 2018. I have almost caught you up on my gardening journey so far. This has definitely been a year where the weather was king and we were at its mercy.
I sowed some more sweetpeas in January again; many more than the year before after acquiring some root trainers for Christmas.
We had lots of snow in December but it carried on and on and I wondered if winter would ever end! I found it so frustrating that I couldn’t get outside and start digging and cleaning the polytunnel but the wait was finally over by the end of March.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of chance to sit on my purple bench and enjoy the daffs popping up around me but it was a beautiful sight.
A sight that could not be beaten were the absolutely stunning tulips in pots – oh my! My family thought I was mad gushing over the flowers and boring everyone to death on social media with my tulip spam!
My sweetpeas were extremely leggy and knotted up when I finally got around to planting them in baskets, of which I acquired two more this year. They put on a decent enough show but the hot weather and shallow baskets were not a good mix so by mid summer, I gave up and put them on the compost.
I experimented with growing lettuce leaves in washing up bowls and this has worked very well, using up less compost than a deep pot with more surface area for more leaves. I shall definitely do this again next year.
I wanted to implement lots of changes this year – New border shapes and splitting the raised bed to make things easier for me. This took a lot of work and in a never-ending heatwave too, but we got there in the end and I’m so pleased with the results.
I made rhubarb and vanilla jam – my first foray into jam making and definitely not my last.
The heatwave was like nothing I can remember before. I have lived in shorts for months, could not imagine a time where I would feel cold and need a coat or not be able to wear my flip flops! A heatwave to surpass all heatwaves. Two hosepipes broke and I gave up and began watering everything by can instead which took much, much longer but was also quite enjoyable.
The sun was now king and we were at its mercy. It made gardening much harder in many ways. Watering seemed to take over our lives!
The courgettes loved it. I have never picked so many. I still have lots of grated courgette in the freezer to add to bolognese sauces over the winter and to make more courgette chocolate brownies and lemon courgette cake. My family have asked that I don’t grow it next year as they are sick of it! It’s like the runner beans all over again!
We have also enjoyed peas, beetroot, carrots and yellow squash this year. I had a year off from polytunnel growing (i.e tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers) so in that way things were a bit more relaxed. I found time to actually sit and enjoy the garden this year, reading, knitting and soaking up some sun, and that has been lovely.
I successfully grew hollyhocks and cosmos from seed and even now into October, they are both still going strong and are absolutely beautiful. I have been picking Cosmos flowers for the house since early August.
As I was so late getting the veg sown this year due to all of the digging and changes, I decided to sow sunflowers in one of my raised beds and they have been a pure delight.
Not everything worked, however, I forgot all about the dahlia tubers I had purchased on whim in B&Q and didn’t get them potted up until late May. I kept them in pots to grow on but they did not work. I think I had two flowers before they gave up! This was mostly due to the enduring hot weather, I think. When I removed the spent cornflowers from the border in July, I decided to transplant the dahlias from the pots into the border to see if they could do better there. They finally began flowering last week so not all was lost. I am thinking about how I can grow them next year as I absolutely love dahlias.
I am growing winter brassicas and leeks in the raised bed for the first time this year and despite a bit of slug damage, they are doing quite well.
I also gave my shed an interior makeover, but more on that next week.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my garden journey up to this point. It has been rather a sweeping round up but I wanted to show you how many things I have got wrong in the process to where I am now. I’m still a long way off a beautiful, functioning garden, but making progress all the time.