This year we are working in earnest to establish a hearty vegetable garden. Last year was our first year here and although we had a good first harvest, we were never going to sustain ourselves on the amount we grew. For example, we grew 40 corn on the cobs, but that lasted us 4 meals! We had orchards fruits, leeks, carrots, peas, courgettes and lots of tomatoes. I must also make mention of the few radishes we grew. I was heartily disappointed when I pulled up my first radish, somehow I imagined they would come up as a bunch! I now feel incredibly stupid admitting this, but really that is how ignorant we were when we started this. So if we can grow food, anyone can! This year we are endeavouring to go up a gear.
We see complete self sufficiency as a far off potential, not a near reality. We are currently about 30% self sufficient, due, in the most part, to our 10 litres of milk a day from the cow, 40 eggs a week from the chickens and a regular supply of pork, bacon, gammon and sausages from the pigs. Next on the list is veg.
Over the winter we weeded the beds, put rotted cow manure on them and covered them in sheeting, hoping they would be ready for planting out in May, once the risk of frost is gone. We managed to grow lots of chard throughout the winter, in the greenhouse, and our cabbages got a head start in the cold frame.
Once March arrived we got going on sowing the seeds. We’ve has a go at pumpkin, sweetcorn, sprouts, carrots, squash, onions, peas, mange tout, peppers, chillies, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, leeks and purple sprouting. So far we have a lot of seedlings but have also had some hard lessons learnt.
After diligently caring for our baby tomato plants for about 6 weeks, we were thrilled to watch them develop their true leaves and I was very excited to think we were ahead of the game and might get an early crop. Then disaster struck. I cannot say for sure what happened, maybe slugs, but one morning I went out to greet my baby plants and I discovered, much to my distress, that my tomatoes were no more! All the leaves had gone, every last one with true leaves on. The tiniest S seedlings had been totally ignored. I genuinely felt sad for a little while, but then quickly decided on plan B. I brought into our bedroom all the tomato plants that were still growing and put them on a bin liner and then a towel, on my window ledge.
I’m actually really enjoying having them inside as we can watch their progress more diligently. Every evening the children and I marvel at their daily progress as new leaves form, and hope once again is renewed, that tomatoes might well come this side of summer.
The other plants are thriving and only require watering once every day or two.
The next step is to plan where to put everything. I tend to be very haphazard, partly by personality and partly because I’m very busy and often multitasking; this means that I have basically just planted seeds and waited to see what would grow, before deciding where to put them. Thankfully I have an organised friend who is helping me to measure and plan where to plant everything, as that is certainly not my strength.
We’ll see what happens over the next few months, we’ll water them and do our best, but I’ll say and prayer and trust God to do the rest.