Grow your own

by Organikal on July 22, 2006

Border_sunHow big is yours?
Vegetable garden, I mean.

Ours isn’t big – in fact it’s teensy tiny.
That’s it, well almost all of, in the picture.

With no experience, and even less patience, we ripped out most of the very neglected plants the previous owner had left in a somewhat dubious border in our garden, and chucked in some potatoes, some lettuce seedlings, some courgette plants and some herb seedlings, in an attempt to start growing our own.

We didn’t prepare the soil. We didn’t add any fertiliser. In fact, we’d no idea, really. But you know what? Stuff grows … it’s like magic. Okay, so the lettuce took ages getting going, and I’d some trouble with the herb seedlings, when they got frazzled in my mini greenhouse (of the plastic zip up variety). The courgettes haven’t managed to produce anything yet, as the flowers keep falling off (help anyone?), but CourgettesI’m hopeful, and waiting with my courgette cake recipe – sacrilege, i know, but I’m actually not that fond of courgettes!

(my courgette plants)

I spent all last week carefully weeding after our summer vacation meant we came back to a proliferation of unknown weed-like characters hogging all the space and no doubt, any nutrition to be found in our water-logged clay soil. It was a hugely restorative experience (I had a pesky summer cold) and gave me an enormous sense of wellbeing: there I was, nurturing life from almost nothing, and it would provide some organic sustenance for our table as an end result – what a marvellous and mind-opening experience. So much so, that I’m earnestly researching what I can grow for the rest of the summer, into autumn and winter. The plans are there to increase the size of the beds, to something less miniature.

Whilst carrying out my research, I was reading Grow your own magazine tucked up in bed last night with a cup of chamomile, honey and vanilla tea, and discovered that if I harvested leaves only from my lettuce, they stood every chance of re-cropping! Of course that makes sense. But I hadn’t actually ever thought of it – I was waiting until my lettuce got big enough and round enough, then I was going to eat as much as I could, and give the rest away to family and friends! My lettuce has previously only ever come as a plant, with it’s roots cut off. I haven’t ever thought of the potential lifecycle of the plant.

And of course, in the meantime, the birds and the slugs are divulging themselves of my precious crop, and I’m losing leaves daily. Ah, the naivety of a first time grow-your-owner!

First_harvestSo today, I harvested some lettuce leaves from a variety of the plants in the border patch. Sure, I found only 2 slugs, but there were a lot of leaves simply not salvageable, and they ended up composted. I washed the rest and proudly display them for all to see.

What to do with the lettuce before it wilts? Well, of course, we incorporated it into lunch – which was a boiled egg/celery/mayo affair, with warm pitta bread with home made hummus. I simply added half an avocado pear to the lettuce, along with some toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and was all set for a tasty meal – with some smug satisfaction as a side course – I can’t help it – I’m only human :o ).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

peoplemaps July 22, 2006 at 9:47 pm

reading your blog from ukraine and sorry i missed your first lettuce harvest. looking forward to it upon my return. ukraine is looking for some ideas on what it should put its massive farming ability to. i am thinking biofuels and hemp. can you remind me of the hemp story.


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