Posts Tagged ‘gardens&growing’

Vegetable Patch and other Stories

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

We don’t have a garden here in St Just. We have a small courtyard, which doesn’t get a huge amount of sun, and a balcony. The courtyard has a border with a lot of trees (elderberry/climbing rose/ some bushy-shrubby-evergreeny thing/ another tree that I don’t know the name of) and a very rocky little raised bed which is used by the neighbourhood cats, and has really poor soil. And when you water it everything runs off into the courtyard anyway. This little patch really just survives. I throw a couple of plants at it every year and they sometimes take and they sometimes don’t. There is a Bleeding Heart plant which was absolutely stunning last year, but I don’t know if it will have survived the winter, and a self seeded buddleia – which may well take over – as well as some bits of cuttings that I’ve shoved in the stony soil. And an ivy which, bien sûr, climbs up and over everything. This weekend (if it’s warm) I may try to sort this patch out a little – stake up the buddleia (at the moment it’s lying prone!) and clear up the cat shit. But for all that, it’s not a very inspiring little patch…

As well as this, for the last couple of years we’ve shared a vegetable patch with our friends A & G – the chickens are next door to this. The problem for us is that it’s about 10 minutes walk away, which can be a bit of a turn-off for going to “do a bit of weeding”. Mr D worked really hard last year, as did A, but I’m afraid I didn’t do very much – partly (but not completely) because of the amount of work I had. It was splendid to harvest our own courgettes, and pumpkins and strawberries – but even that was a bit of an effort. (Yes, as you may have gathered by now I am monumentally lazy!)

However, I do like pottering on the balcony. Last year I grew (reasonably succesfully) tomatoes and herbs, although some tomatoes got what is cheerily known as “Blossom End Rot”, which is apparently caused by “water stress”. I can only assume that means “You didn’t water the poor tomatoes enough and now you’re getting what you deserve!”

So, having seen something on a TV programme in the UK, which I vaguely took notice of, I’m planning on a trellis/container vegetable garden on the balcony. I’m going to get a piece of strong metal trellis and persuade Mr D to drill holes into the wall to hold it. I can then either hook containers onto this, and grow trailing vegetables, or plant stuff in a trough below which can climb up the trellis. I’m also thinking of what we have lying around (or what can be bought cheaply) to use as interesting containers. Last year I grew the tomatoes in old pedal bin buckets, which worked quite well – although I have since learned that the fact that one was black probably contributed to the Blossom End Rot as they dry out quickly, black soaking up the warmth of the sun.

If anyone has any hints/suggestions/warnings about what vegetables grow well in containers do please let me know. I’ve looked on various websites but I find it all a bit daunting. I’m not very green fingered at all (although I do have an asparagus fern that is almost 30 years old – I had it at college. It goes on the balcony every summer and has a wonderful time. Every autumn it comes back inside, goes brown because I forget to water it, loses a lot of its leaves but just about hangs on long enough to go outside again in the summer! I’m sure it would have the world’s worst case of Blossom End Rot if such a thing existed for asparagus ferns! It does get its own back by viciously attacking me with its barbs/thorns whenever I touch it. They can be nasty things!)

Other than garden-y musings not much else is happening.

I’ve planned a James Bond themed couple of lessons for my Collège students as we have Italian exchange students here. I didn’t think it was sensible just carrying on with the boring crap we’re doing (You can tell I’m so inspired by my work at Collège!) so for two days I hope we’ll do something more fun. Whether I’ll be able to control them is another matter… I am getting very dispirited with this work. Sigh. Never mind – it’s nearly July. 😉

Mr D has spent today helping said friends A&G build the foundations for a garden wall. This is for their new gite, which they hope will be open for business in July. You can see their current gite in the blog roll to the left. A provided lunch, and as I wasn’t working I went up for lunch too. It was very pleasant – but hard to get back to lesson planning afterwards. We had roast pork, roast potatoes & green beans, cheeses and then yoghurt, fruit and bun-round (brioche with creme patissiere, chocolate chips and icing. Bun-round is not its real name. It’s really Brioche Suisse and looks something like this. But we call it Bun-round ) I love bun-round, but don’t buy it very often, as we’d only eat it (!) So it was good to have an excuse to buy one, and have some of it, but not very much.

Prayer meeting tonight. I can’t get very excited about it, but I think I’d better go. I wish I was more enthusiastic about these things. Still, I have to simply trust that this is a Gloomy Sunday Afternoon of the Soul (it’s hardly a “dark night of the soul”, but a gloomy Sunday afternoon… well, maybe that!) and that things will get better.