Friday, 13 April 2012

Frugal Friday...

....and everything in the Garden's lovely! Indeed, it seems to have come on a storm in the past little while. Still lots to do though....let me take you through our plans for this year.

Our garden food-growing space is tiny. I mean REALLY tiny - around 1m x 1.5m of usable space in one bed, plus pots, a wall, and a sort of improvised wigwam affair that means we have somewhere to grow beans. (It also helps to disguise the hideous miniature conifer, but that's a whole other story!). This lack of space means we have to a) be careful what we choose to grow, and b) choose the most compact varieties of everything. Miniature veg is big in our world, and there is no sweetcorn or rows of cabbages for us! Kale though - that works as the plants are quite upright, and can be squeezed in round one edge - this year I'm considering "hedging" the plot with kale. We will also have baby turnips, and beetroot that are designed to be ideal picked as mini ones, too. We'red trying leeks this year - I have an idea that they might plant out in a nice little line just the other side of the kale......sort of "kale & leek fencing" ......they needen't have any ideas about getting the sort of space the seed packet told us they should though - nothing does! Things frequently have to be picked several at a time, as they tend to rather "grow together".

Tomatoes usually get put into many of our larger salvaged pots....we have a good few nice tall ones, plus an old plastic crate which will take a couple of plants - they can then be fitted in around the place wherever there is room. We salvage pots from all over the place - friends who would otherwise be throwing them out, florists getting rid of excess stock (especially good for the large "flower bucket" type things, and even on occasion when we've spotted them while out and about - that's where the crate came from!) We're trying Courgettes this year - first time in a while for those, but we've chosen the "Eight Ball" round variety which have relatively compact plants. With their lovely vibrant yellow flowers they will go into the flower bed as well as the veg plot - then it's a race to see if we, or the slugs and snails, get to them first!

There they are look....little buggers! This lot (all absolutely tiny!) were removed from my poor parsley plant was like a snail nursery under there. We've shied away in recent years from using slug pellets - it's always worried us that either the cat, or wild birds, might manage to pick them up, and even the "animal friendly" ones can't do them much good, let's face it. We've tried various methods of getting rid, and so far the one that seems most effective is crushed eggshells. We save our shells up, then crush them by putting them into a carrier bag, squeezing out all the air, then stamping on the bag underfoot until they are reasonably finely crushed. The theory is that the bits of shell get stuck to the slime underneath the beasty, and they don't like it. (Well they *wouldn't*, would they?!) It seems to work reasonably, but you do need a fair number of shells! the other methods which seems to work is Ben going outside late at night and picking the little blighters off by hand.....he then treats them to "flying lessons" - you'd be surprised how far some get, and they've never flown before!

There's the Parsley, safely de-snailed. As well as that, I also have rosemary (needing repotting) Bay, savoury, chives and mint scattered around in various pots, and some purple basil coming on along with some salad leaves in the large trough kindly donated by the nice neighbours with the allotment. We swap seedlings and pots back and forth too, which is great - means we all get to try some different stuff. We've got high hopes, although not this year, for the gooseberry bushes we recently put in - replacing the old hedge in front of the window which had been getting steadily thinner and thinner, the goosies should give a nice prickly deterrent to anyone trying to look in once they've grown a the moment they wouldn't deter anything much! If they decide to give us some nice fruit too, then so much the better.

 As well as the frugality of growing all the bits and bobs that we do, there is also the point that pottering around in our little patch of green gives us plenty of fun and fresh air, and while we're pottering around out there, we're not spending money elsewhere! It's a bit of a win-win situation, that!


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