Potager Garden: Cabbages, Sunflowers and Fuchsia … the start of May in the garden

We spent our bank holiday hiking in Staffordshire in search of wild garlic, however we are now back and tending to the garden.

We have been getting all of our late winter and early spring baby plants settled outside, and making room for lots of new seedling trays in the kitchen.  Any sudden frosts and I’ll move all of the pots back indoors overnight, but the end of the cold snaps is almost in sight!

Today our silver birch burst into full leaf…

… and the courgette leaves have changed from tiny seedlings just a few weeks ago …

… to the size of lily pads!  I love the veins in the leaves when the sun shines through them and how the bright orange petals gracefully open and close each day – to me, vegetables plants are every bit as beautiful as ornamental flowers.

Our brussels sprouts are now too large to be troubled by slugs, which prefer to munch on younger baby leaves.  They are growing in a sheltered spot, which will provide protection and support against winter gales, once they have (fingers crossed!) grown into towering structures later in the year.  The leaves are recognisably like brussels now.

The cabbages, too, are fending off the slugs well now – and because our raised bed is quite close to a large buddleia, which butterflies love to swarm over, I’ve added nets as protection against Cabbage Whites laying their eggs there.  I also have many nasturtium seedlings on the way, as they provide a great distraction for pests too.

We have fuchsias growing all over our garden, grown from cuttings my mum gave me when we first moved here, and we spotted our very first fuchsia flower of 2017 today.  I can never quite believe that such an elegant, delicate-looking bloom is so hardy and easy to look after.  It grows in abundance without any help whatsoever, I just cut it back almost to the ground once a year.

And finally, I’ll leave you today with one of our sunflowers … which are looking far happier outside than they ever did in the kitchen!  These are a dwarf variety, that provide a spectrum of orange and yellow flowers.  Meanwhile the giant sunflower seeds have just started to germinate on the windowsill.

We hope everyone is having a lovely start to May 🙂

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Potager Garden: mushrooms, recycled planters, seedlings and a birthday

Here in England we have had the most perfect spring week of bright sunshine, so we have been away from our blog getting lots of work done on converting the garden into a potager.  Here’s a little update on how it’s going…

With thanks to our online friends, we have our slug problem humanely under control using grapefruit peel.   The brussels (that were munched almost down to stalks in just one night) have recovered wonderfully with fresh new leaves.

Throughout March we collected all of our soup and vegetable tins, and my husband has drilled holes in them so that they now have a new life as planters.

The basil, thyme, dill, chives and coriander seedlings are coming along nicely.

As we are working in a relatively small plot, we are experimenting with using garden wire to hang the tins from the fence as a vertical herb garden … more on that later!

The french beans on the camping table suddenly had a growth spurt one night and started to try and attach themselves to the ceiling light fitting (!) So they’re now in giant pots on the kitchen floor, trained up large bean poles … safe inside until after the May frosts.

The little raspberry plant is growing very quickly now, which is such a relief after it arrived in a terrible state.  Around the pot you can see the remains of soap nuts.   We use this brilliant little nuts in our washing machine to clean and condition our clothes, then we are able to recycle the husks on the garden to enrich the soil.

Then it was my birthday, and my husband and children built me a raised bed as my present …

… and my friends and family were really supportive of the way we are trying to live as sustainably as we can; hand making or sending virtual cards, giving us plants for our home and garden, or books to help us learn about how to make the most of this year’s surplus.  I have one kind friend who bakes me a wonderful vegan chocolate cake every year, even though she’s an omnivore herself.

And then finally, great news on the mushrooms we are cultivating.  The tiny domes of baby mushrooms are just visible – and we have some great photos to share in our next post.

We are now moving onto the next phase for this growing year and have many new seeds planted and more gravel boards and posts on order from the local timber yard – enough for three more raised beds!

Happy spring gardening everyone x

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Commission Enquiries: tinypotager@hotmail.com