Gardening Magazine

Lockdown Lowdown

By The Garden Smallholder @gdnsmallholder

This is an extremely testing time for us all and gardening has never felt as important as it does right now, for healthy bodies and mind. Many people are turning to their gardens for solace, even turning their gardens over to veg patches for the first time. I’m ashamed to say I neglected the vegetable garden while I worked on my allotments, and I’ve been a bit lazy since. Weeds took full advantage of my absence, enjoying a mild and damp winter. Worrying about the current coronavirus pandemic kicked me up the bottom to sort the veg garden out, the weather has been lovely since the ‘lockdown’ was announced and with plenty of time on my hands I have slowly worked it back it into shape for the growing year, accompanied by the chickens of course who love nothing better than scratching up weeds, and dustbathing!

Just look at those weeds behind the chickens in the raised bed! *hangs head in shame*

A good top up of homemade compost on the veg beds after weeding suddenly makes the garden look loved again, mulching the surface of the soil gives it a much needed boost and helps to retain moisture.

To celebrate the new growing year the seed packets came out of the box and we got sowing! Carrots, parsnips and radish are all in and peas and potatoes planted. The very short video below demonstrates just how easy planting potatoes can be, no need to dig trenches!

We love our peas here, our very favourite is a variety called ‘Jaguar’ which we have grown for a number of years for sweetness and well filled pods. This variety doesn’t grow very tall but will need support, a length of chicken wire with a couple of garden canes pushed through each end, around 3 ft high is all you need to give them a something to grab onto as they grow. I also like to use our spent autumn raspberry canes cut down in late winter around the young plants, they provide a lovely rustic-looking form of support. Simply push into the soil, the spiky canes also provide a bit of protection from pests such as slugs, mice and pigeons.

Spent raspberry canes make great pea sticks!

The greenhouse is greening up at last. Trays of multi-sown peas, beets, leeks and onions, also kohl rabi, lettuce, salad leaves, broad beans, brassicas and flowers for the bees all coming along nicely.

Tomatoes have been potted on, I’m growing my favourite variety called ‘Ruby’ as well as ‘Galina’ and ‘Chocolate Cherry’, both cherry types. Mixed cut and come again salad leaves have been sown into old wooden crates which are just outside the greenhouse.

Rhubarb is ready and the first sticks went into a crumble and enjoyed – a reward for the hard work. There’s still a fair amount to do in the vegetable garden but I’m pleased with how it’s looking, I plan to grow more veg than we need and share it out with folk in my village who may appreciate some fresh food, if you can, do the same!

I feel calm and happy when I’m in the garden, especially so now, and I feel so lucky to have somewhere to retreat to and grow fresh food. I realise not everyone is fortunate to have a garden or allotment, but don’t despair! My grow your own journey began by growing everything I could in containers, you don’t need a garden to grow food. The beauty of container gardening is you can provide the perfect growing conditions for a wide-range of crops and you can use any pots or tubs you like (even old car tyres but wash them first), root veg such as carrots will require a good depth, as will potatoes. Give it a go!

Stay safe and happy gardening x

Easy way to plant potatoes – The Garden Smallholder

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