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Notes from a messy garden

August 12, 2010

I had great plans for the garden. Such great plans.

I sowed lots of seeds back in April, but then we had all that funny weather. If I hadn’t had exams, I could have nursed the seedlings through May; likewise, if the weather had not got freakishly cold, they would have been perfectly happy on their own. Still, I got distinctions on two of my modules, so at least my tomatoes didn’t die in vain…

Then the ceiling in our flat fell down. No, really.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. Only part of it fell down.

So we had to engage in some extensive wrangling with the landlord and were expecting to have to move out. Not particularly conducive to investing time, money and emotional energy in a place…

And so the sum total of produce from the garden this year is:

  • 4 strawberries
  • a handful of salad leaves
  • a moderate amount of blackberries. Ahem.

However, a) I got sick of looking at all the weeds every time I went outside, b) ideally, I want some home-grown veg, dammit, and c) sitting amongst brambles saying, ‘Oh, it’s sooooo good for biodiversity!’ does not a food revolution make. Especially not when one is supposed to be a ‘local food-growing ambassador’ or whatever they called us at Saturday’s training day.

So there is a new plan. I need to find a balance between (sensibly) not getting too invested in the garden and letting it go to rack and ruin. The thought of spending years improving the soil in Negligent Landlord’s garden and then having to leave is galling, but I’m also not going to let him stop me using it now.

I’ve tamed the brambliness, put some blackberries in the freezer, found some plants that were actually supposed to be there, and eaten the remaining spinach for lunch. So far, so good.

As luck would have it, I’ve been given a free pack of Westerwolds annual ryegrass seeds – this is a green manure that can be grown over winter to improve soil fertility. So I scattered those all over the large, empty bed – if we’re still here next spring, I intend to fill it with cheap, low-maintenance things. If not, I’ve made some soil slightly nicer, entirely for free. I planted my remaining flower seeds in the smaller bed, just to see what happens. And any expensive vegetables from heirloom seeds are going in containers – so far this is salads and herbs that I can keep indoors over winter, and next year… Next year, I will only have one exam.

Now, I wish there was some kind of soil improver that would DISSOLVE STONES.

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