It’s wet, miserable and cold here in Manchester today (not as cold as it should be though), so I thought I’d write a summary blog of how our garden’s flourished this year.
Considering the extreme weather at times, the gardens’ fought back boldly, with some plants doing better than others.
My seasonal summary
Peas & beans – we started off sowing our old favs, back in March & April in our tried and tested way, toilet roll holders. It has to be said though, after a few weeks the broad beans and peas weren’t looking as good as they have in the past (think I used old seeds!!) so we gave them a dose of soil improver and things were soon back on track.
Herbs – in May, wild garlic went in pasta, chives for potato salad and some thyme used in a roast dinner. The cinnamon basil grown from seed was ready to use and the tarragon survived the winter, as did the apple mint and bay leaves, so Mum was going full stink in the kitchen rustling up all sorts of lush grub.
Veg seedlings – by June we were planting out more seedlings into the veg beds, including courgettes, which all germinated and grew into very healthy plants. There was sunflowers to pot on – far too many, so we gave some to family & friends – and potatoes to earth up. The spuds in containers were well ahead of those in the veg beds, but that’s alright ‘cos we ended up with a staggered harvest.
Salad crops – in July we sowed some more salad crops, lettuce and radish etc.. Of course, July is a time to enjoy your garden and I deffo did that, with a BBQ with my mates, where one of ’em nearly fell in the pond! Over in the veg beds we tied & supported the beans & peas with canes, twigs and branches. It was quite dry, so we kept on top of the watering and gave everything a boost with a liquid feed, which seemed to do the trick.
Fruit trees & bushes – whilst I mulched all the fruit trees & bushes, I left the tricky job of pruning to Dad. Summer pruning ensures the fruit on the tree gets a good chance to grow big and juicy and good cropping the following year. We also put some tarpaulin under the trees to collect any windfalls. Come autumn, there were daily picks of the raspberries too, they are so delicious, really fragrant.
August – In anticipation of the dry spell hitting whilst we were on holiday, we mulched areas of our garden after a particular wet spell and the gamble paid off, as when we returned, there were no heatwave plant casualties. We planted sweet peas amongst the peas & beans, and they were proper nose pleasers, as was the white buddleia, perfect for the moths and butterflies.
Blackcurrants – ripened a little earlier than usual this year and the birds took advantage of our absence, as when we returned from holidays there was barely enough for a pie (we usually harvest enough for 10+ jars of jam!). We managed to harvest enough for Mum to make her famous frangipane, so at least not all was lost.
Courgettes – as per usual it was courgettes with everything. They did particularly well, and the flowers are a proper delicacy in our house. The shallots & onions were also great this year, I should have entered them in a show!
Lettuce – August is a great time for garden centre bargains, and we picked up a tray of lettuce for a few pence. So, it was spuds out, compost back in, mixed with a little soil improver and lettuce planted, job done.
Creating a new space in the top garden – September saw us working on a new space in the very top bit of our garden. It’s a little bit shady there and we’ve mainly focused on wild woodland style planting. We’ve dug out and cleared an area, planted an azalea, 3 red hot pokers, which were gifted from Grandma’s neighbour and also a couple of heathers, from the garden centre bargain basement. Next year we’re hoping to plant some blueberries in there as well.
Bottom garden – we had to hack away at a load of the jasmine, which was beginning to crush the pieris and the berberis, it was beginning to grow over the top of them and pull them over. We cleared another area, which was getting really wild and overgrown and started to plant that out, with a large daisy, which we’ve split from the top garden – another gift from my other Grandma’s friend – it’s been split into three, 2 went in the new space and one in the front garden. We planted a phlox (another gift!), red hot poker and replanted the camassia bulbs that were dug up; they’ve gone in the top and bottom gardens, spread out all over the place. We cleared out an area where we’re hoping to put some wildflower seeds down and planted a rudbeckia which we bought from a canal side community project in Slaithwaite.
Winter veg beds – as we came to the end with some produce – onions, shallots and courgettes. Some of the winter/early spring produce went in. Some of it is growing great, especially the PSB, whilst others – swede – have been totally scoffed by slugs! We also put some of the veg beds ‘to bed’ for the winter, adding soil improver and then a layer of cardboard to suppress any weeds and also to prevent the local cats from doing their thing!!
Onions & garlic – in October, I planted some winter onion sets and 2 varieties of garlic – Mersley Wight and Solent Wight, which all being well, will be ready to harvest in July ’23. It’s not too late to bang some garlic in and the cloves are big enough for tiny hands, so great to grow with kids. Here’s a great ‘Garlic Crop Sheet’ with loads of advice from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.
Carnivorous Plants – earlier in the summer my nepenthes was looking a bit ropey, deffo in need of some TLC. So, I took a bit of a gamble and re-potted it using some mulch; it certainly worked its magic as it bounced back and is now looking rather fit. I’ve moved it to its winter accommodation, my bedroom, which actually isn’t much warmer than the greenhouse! Speaking of carnivorous plants, my sarracenias will be dying back for the winter so that they return stronger in the spring.
Snowdrop bulbs arrived in October, and I planted them in clumps in the new area of our top garden, alongside more bargain basement heathers. That area will look cracking come spring ’23.
RocketGro – As one of their brand ambassadors, we’ve been using RocketGro’s peat-free products all year and they’ve made a big difference to our garden. Products such as their soil improver which gave our veg beds a boost, the seed compost and tree & shrub compost, does what it says on the bag (!) and my Dad’s fav, magic mulch, really is magic!
How’s your garden grown? What’s been your bumper crop? Any plant casualties? Do let me know in the comments below, it’s always great to hear from you.