Monday, March 20, 2006

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Given that it is only March and Thames Water are proposing a hosepipe ban in April (a bit rich when most of the water in their pipes seems to be pissing down our road for months on end with nobody doing anything about it), Spouse and are looking at the possibility of the garden not growing at all this year.

This is a pity as amateur enthusiasts that we are, we are vaguely getting the hang of growing our own veg, and now that I have worked out that you should be really really ruthless about thinning carrots and parsnips, was rather looking forward to having some decent size carrots this year, rather then the weedy variety I produced last year.

It having been so cold the last few weeks has also proved a bugger in the garden. Our daffs are usually out by now, but they keep poking their heads up, and then going Nah, think I'll leave it... and I can't help feeling we're going to get through spring with most of them staying resolutely shut.

As it's been too cold to produce anything in the greenhouse, I assiduously planted: brocoli, onions, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes and cucumbers a couple of weeks ago, when I had to give up as I ran out of compost. They have been happily growing in the conservatory since.

This weekend being slightly sunny, Spouse having bought some more, I spent several happy hours with the sprogs sowing further seeds. But given that they were all crowding round at one point, and dropping seeds anywhere and everywhere, the likelihood of my second sowings actually reaching any kind of fruition are probably limited...

I now have every available windowsill in the conservatory covered in seed trays, which along with a bucket of frogspawn (an experiment by Spouse - he wants to see if they hatch quicker indoors then in the pond), means that the conservatory, which is half finished and therefore the children's play area of choice is in danger of becoming a mudbath, or home to hundreds of frogs... Neither of which prospect fills me with joy...

However the upside is, if we get any frogs, they'll eat the slugs without us resorting to Evil Slug Pellets which destroy everything in their path. To be fair to Spouse, we have tried upside down citrus fruit - we got ants - and pints of beer, to no avail, and he does get the environmentally friendly kind. But I'm all for having an eco garden, so if the frogs can do it, bring on the frogs, say I.

All of this is of course academic if we have no water as we won't have any plants for the slugs to eat.

Which is why in addition to the four water butts we also have, Spouse spent much of yesterday constructing a watering system in the greenhouse which is fed by a bucket to catch rainwater outside, and he then spent several hours pouring over the instructions in Saturday's Telegraph to build your own resevoir. Maybe we should just use the coldframes instead of growing stuff in them...

But drought or no drought. It does your heart good to get in the open and get your hands dirty. The fruits of our labours this weekend meant we now have half the vegetable patch dug over, so we can get sowing next weekend, I've cleared the strawberry beds which were in a shocking state, and I've also managed to get some pansies and primula in my pots, so that after months of drab greyness, I have some colour back in my garden.

Now I just have to sit back and pray for rain...

If you are interested in a more eco friendly way of life, I can recommend Imperfectly Natural Woman -Getting Life Right the Natural Way by Janey Lee Grace of Radio 2 fame. To find out more about it you can visit:

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