Girl child has fully embraced gardening this year and asks “can we garden mummy?” as if she is asking for chocolate treats. Win! Bits of tidying, planning and some planting have been like a salve for our occasional tempestuous relations when the weather has allowed. I learned last year, that gardening with a small child involves a large degree of letting go. Gardening is always teaching me about life. I learn to grow, nurture, watch, be patient and trust. There no other option really, nature will have her way.
I’m not setting high hopes for vegetables this year, save for trying a few seeds I have left from last year – beetroots, lettuce and salad leaves. I’m focussing on the herbs this year. I have a small patch of the sunny border which has accidentally evolved into a herb patch over the years. This year I’m sowing some annuals like parsley and coriander, but having listened to Gardeners Question Time on Friday afternoon, James Wong suggested that germination of herbs is so hit and miss, the better approach may be to buy supermarket herbs and then divide up the plants from the pot and pot them on. The phrase “it couldn’t be simpler” drives me insane when applied to anything, but growing basil is my gardening nemesis and in fact, it seems anything could be simpler. I have read about a method (also using supermarket herbs) where you make a clean transverse (I imagine) snip in a stem and then pop it into a glass of water until it sprouts roots, then pot it up. It’s got to beat poor germination, damping off, growing leggy or just plain s l o w growth, so I’ll give it a try.
Elsewhere in the garden, the concrete area outside the back door is looking happy now that the evergreen shrubs I potted up last year have established, reducing the need for loads of pricey annuals and keeping the area looking cheerful all year round. The lavenders which I gave a good haircut to last summer are also lush with little purple spikes. A friend gave us a lovely but leggy sedum last year, and it has redoubled its energy over the winter and is now growing bushy and bold. All being well there will be a mass of little clusters of bee-friendly flowers later in the summer.
Compost has been a bit of an issue. I prefer to buy peat-free unless I am desperate or completely skint, so I decided this year it was time to harvest the compost bin which has lain abandoned since parenthood came along. I was stopped in my tracks by an apparent Yellow Jacket nest, which by all accounts (Dr. Google) is best left alone until they leave by themselves, usually after a year. I bought New Horizon Organic peat-free multipurpose which has been fine for general garden planting, but I’ve found it moulds over when left in the bag or in the seed pots. My seeds have still germinated but it ain’t pretty. Does anybody have any experience or tips for sowing in peat-free mediums? I know Monty Don says it’s no problem, but I think he blends his own, which is not feasible for those of us not producing acres-worth of garden waste!
Looking back at this time last year, so much more is still to come into flower – It’s been such a cold May!
How does your garden grow? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment below!