The Limery Awakens

We are just at the start of our second full growing season in the limery. Last year saw amazing successes with sweet peppers (capsicum) and a fairly healthy tomato crop (the last of which have on just ripened up in their box!). Now I’m starting to nurture this year’s crops (including at least one new one) and some of the carnivores are beginning to wake up…

As always, we are doing our best to reuse… the writing on the milk carton plant labels from last year has been cleaned off with meths, the padded packaging from around the new chicken feeder looks like it will make cosy trays for seedlings, none of the plant pots are new, we water the seedlings from a plastic milk bottle with a perforated lid and my dad’s propagator is doing it’s stuff for yet another year. Only the seed compost, seed potatoes and the seeds are new (in fact some of the seeds are from last year, plus we overwintered the pepper plants).

I do love the promise that spring holds.

Experiments in gardening

As regular readers know, I have quite a small garden, so I have to be choosy about the crops that I grow. For a long time I focused on things that were expensive to buy in the shops, difficult to transport or were simply not readily available. Over recent years, however, I have realised that there are lots of good reasons to grow some of the more common things, especially if they form a staple for us (see my post, for example, about whether it’s worth growing potatoes here).

This year, however, I’m going to be able to expand a bit… not because we’re moving house but because my sister is! Now, I know that I shouldn’t have designs on her garden, but she is buying a house much closer to me and with a decent-sized garden that already has a vegetable patch and greenhouse. So, when I ordered my seeds the other day, I knew that I could experiment a bit more; not only this, but that any excess plants can go to my friend Perkin who has loads of space for growing and who will be just a few miles from my sister!

Making good use of vertical space

Planning to grow lots of mangetout again this year

So what have I chosen that’s a bit out of the ordinary? Well, a couple of things from the Heritage Seed Library: Shark fin Melon (a rather rampant sort of squash from which you can eat the fruits, shoots and leaves) and Callaloo (a leafy green, much used in Jamaica). The latter I’ve been intending to try for a while, but the former was just a whim… apparently it covers a lot of ground, so I’m thinking of growing it over my shed as well as giving plants to sister and Perkin. I have  few other heritage seeds coming from the lovely Kate in Australia… I chose genuine Australian varieties of lettuce, pumpkin and pepper, which will be interesting to experiment with. And then my big seed order was from The Real Seed Catalogue. This included some tried and tested varieties that I have written about in the past, plus a few new things for me and my sister to have a go with: Rainbow Quinoa (for the seeds), Groundcherry, Tall Giant Sugar Pea (this has HUGE pods, apparently), Really Red Dear Tongue Lettuce and a previously untried pepper called Nova.

I don’t know what will work and what won’t, but I’m certainly looking forward to trying out both old and new varieties here and with my sister… are you trying anything different this year?

Reasons to be cheerful (or give thanks!)

Normally at this time of year we would be enjoying a wide range of stored produce from the garden, but 2012 will not be remembered as a year of gluts, so we have no pumpkins and squashes, few runner beans in the freezer, and only a limited amount of apple (stewed and frozen or pureed and bottled). I am thinking wistfully about the mountains of apples last year, the winters when we have eaten gallons of courgette soup and the times when we had enough ripened squashes in the loft to provide stored sunshine on even the gloomiest days. Not this year, though.

Sunrise 18 November… from out of our back door

So, what s there to be grateful for this year? Well, the first thing is that we don’t have to rely on what we grow to feed ourselves – if we did, we’d starve this winter. Fortunately, even if we only buy locally produced food, there is plenty – potatoes, meat, leeks, onions, swede… so we won’t go hungry. Living in a marginal area, the country has lots of land that isn’t suitable for plant crops, but is suitable for raising sheep, s0 there’s a source of protein from land that, in arable terms, is pretty useless. Living in the countryside means not only lovely surroundings, but lots of local growers, producers and foragers, allowing us to support the local economy whilst eating well. Llwynhelyg, our local farm shop, sources the majority of the produce that they sell from Wales or the borders, so we even have a one stop shop that delivers the majority of our needs from fairly local farmers and makers.

Peppers ripening today in my office

However, we are also still producing at least a little of our own food. There is a raised bed containing broccoli (fingers crossed for a good harvest from January onwards) and kale (which we have already started eating). We also have leeks growing and still some bunching onions (some of which we ate this evening along with broad beans that were frozen a few moths ago). The Claytonia that I planted doesn’t seem to have germinated, but the oriental greens have and I have high hopes for them plus there is some root parsley that seems to be coming along nicely… and we are using the leaves already even if the roots don’t do well. Meanwhile indoors, there are still a few sweet peppers on the plants that we are hoping to overwinter and some of the rocoto chillis are now ripening up. By the look of the picture here, they may well make great Christmas trees! We even, believe it or not, still have mange tout growing in pots outdoors, although a frost will finish these off soon, no doubt.

November mange tout

%d bloggers like this: