Grow Your Own

Last year I grew baby courgettes, cherry tomatoes, alpine strawberries and baby carrots from seed and transplanted them into containers. Victoria kindly babysat the seedlings while I was on holiday. The carrots turned out well but a lot of effort for only one meals worth!

The tomatoes were prolific and while delicious all came at once – I gave a lot away and ended up making soup to use them up. The baby courgettes were a great success and provided us with veg several times a week throughout the summer. The alpine strawberries looked beautiful and tasted great but being  so small and only a few at a time being ripe meant they were only good for decoration. Some have survived over the winter in one of my pots – or have they reseeded – I’m not sure?

This year I’ve grown the same variety of mini courgette but decided to try growing some flowers from seed as space fillers for the bed at the bottom of the garden, which I started to plant up last year. I ended up with a lot of cosmos, candytuft and cornflower seedlings. I grew them in my plastic greenhouse which took on the appearance of the Leaning Tower of Pisa but seemed to do the job. The process was not without disappointment. One morning I found a lone snail had made its way up to the 3rd floor of the greenhouse and munched its way through two of my cosmos seedlings overnight. He was duly dispatched over the fence.

Where seeds are big enough I give them their own little pot to avoid the painful task of thinning out. I had to do the deed on the candytuft seedlings though. I don’t like doing it  – with some of the seedlings it’s obvious they’re not very robust  but with many it feels like performing a death sentence on a healthy little being.

I dithered for weeks about whether my seedlings were substantial enough to plant in the garden but took the plunge in May. The cornflowers have not been a great success. They are very lanky and several were trampled to death by fat pigeons or eaten by snails. The candytuft have flowered well but I think I should have repeated the thinning out process before planting them out because the end result has been rather gangly plants. I think they were all fighting for light and space. I’ve written previously about my Cosmos traumas Sadly it didn’t get much better – the survivors are all a disappointment.

My only real success is the courgettes. They are proof that you don’t need much space to grow veg. They’re already providing us with enough veg to go with a meal once a week and are delicious. Who cares if they’re not perfectly shaped ?!

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