Growing your own veg

Anyone for vegetable soup?

We grew our own vegetables when I was growing up but I hated having to work in the garden.  It always seemed too much like hard work.  However, a redeeming feature was being able to pull a carrot out of the ground, wash it under the outside tap and gnaw away at it there and then.  Instant healthy snack!  Gardening is still not my favourite pastime but I can appreciate it more today.

When I first moved in, there was a flower bed with quite tall plants in it that draped out onto the path.  Don’t get me wrong, they were quite nice to look at but a complete pain.  And especially when they were wet.  Which, let’s face it, was most of the time given our recent summers.  Last autumn, I’d had enough of those shrubs and decided I was going to try growing some veg. instead.  So, out they came.  I put down a load of homemade compost and let the soil rest for the winter.  Easy!

I choose carrots and leeks because I thought they were going to be the easiest to begin with.  I wasn’t organised enough at the start of the year and didn’t plant them in seed trays like you should.  These went straight into the ground.  I also went overboard and planted far too many seeds far too close together.  I must have done something right though because a shedload of them sprouted.  Over the summer, I thinned them out while I was weeding.  They had a couple of feeds of vegetable plant food but no great level of care and attention.  What you could see overground was impressive.  I was quite pleased with myself.

It was a little too good to be true however.  The carrots were too misshapen to ever find them in a supermarket but then they started coming up all cracked.  Apparently I’d “forced” them to grow too quickly in that the soil was too rich.  They got carrot fly after that and it all went to pot.  I’ve since found out that you can throw carrot fly off the scent by alternating between onion and carrot seeds.

On the up-side, the leeks have done really well all things considered.  We’re using them fairly regularly even though the ones I’m pulling are those that will give the rest the best chance of surviving the winter.  In hindsight, I didn’t plant them deep enough so I built the soil up around them to strengthen them and bring on the white stalks.  The lesson here is to plant the seeds in trays (as you should do anyway), transfer them from there into a six-inch deep hole, fill it with water and that’s it.  I’m told they’ll grow to fill the hole.  That’s something to try next year.