How Does Your Garden Grow?

So it looks like spring is slowly beginning to arrive in Newfoundland. Technically spring doesn’t really happen here, winter is just slowly overtaken by summer at some point in June, but there are crocuses blooming and the snowfall is definitely lessening, so I have decided that spring is definitely now arriving, albeit with frequent delays and setbacks!

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Our crocuses have now survived two dumping of snow 🙂

When we moved in to our current abode, I was thrilled to note that there were two raised beds already set up in the garden – one of which was full of strawberry plants. I have been desperate to try my hand at properly growing stuff for a while now and this place seemed ideal. We even have a raspberry patch that we share with our neighbour – it’s on the narrow strip of grass and hedge that divides the two houses.

Up until now, we haven’t had much chance to do anything, because of the snow and so forth, but the last couple of days have been fairly bright and sunny, so I decided to seize the opportunity and get out in the garden. I enthusiastically bought some seeds at the dollar store a few months ago and had completely forgotten what I had purchased, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover I had carrot seeds and spring onion seeds, both of which were apparently suitable for sowing in early spring. I may be optimistic in sowing them now, but this is really all experimental – even if we don’t get any veg from them at all this year, it will be interesting to see when and how – or even if – they start to grow.

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Carrots on the left, spring onions on the right!

I discovered to my dismay that the strawberry plants had already started regrowing – this was a problem because I had not thought to remove the dead parts of the strawberry plants from last year, so now the new baby plants are fighting to get through the older, dead plants and there isn’t enough space. Unfortunately, the plants are all matted together, so it’s impossible to just rip up the old ones without dislodging the new plants – in fact, they seem to be joined at the roots, so I will need to buy a pair of secateurs or something and carefully cut away all the dead vegetation – according to strawberry plants.org, anyway.

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Entangled strawberry plants.

I am entirely new to this growing business – apart from an ill-fated attempt to grow carrots in a container during my undergrad years in Liverpool – they grew, but were extremely thin and spindly, so we didn’t get anything edible from them at all! Thankfully, Google is my friend and I’m fairly certain I can find the answers to most queries I might have through a quick search online. However, if anyone reading this has any advice or suggestions, do let me know!

In addition to outdoor plants, I also have a couple of basil plants that were given to me by a friend of a friend – we had our first ‘harvest’ from them a few days ago and they were delicious, so I am very keen for the leaves to grow back so we can use them again! I particularly want to try one of the basil buttercream recipes I’ve just found online – I can’t really imagine what basil buttercream even tastes like, but am deeply curious to try it!

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Basil. My fish (George) is on the left.

 

What else? Oh yes, another friend has given me four sweet pepper plants – unfortunately one is already looking a bit far gone, because I hadn’t realised they needed frequent watering (oops!) but the other three are doing well, so I can hopefully transplant them to a larger container soon.

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Sweet pepper plants. Not sure if the front right one will make it!

Finally, my girlfriend has started growing beansprouts from a tub of mung beans, so we have those to eat too.

Why the sudden fascination with growing our own food? Well for me it isn’t really that sudden – I grew up on a farm and we always had our own fruit and vegetables available, os that just seems natural to me. Plus – and I know this is such a cliche – I really do believe that our homegrown fruit, in particular, tasted better than anything I’ve since bought at a supermarket. The supermarket practice of chilling things like strawberries and raspberries ruins the flavour, in my opinion. Strawberries should be sun-warmed when you eat them, not cold. This may be partly to do with nostalgia, but anyway, fresh fruit and veg is bloody expensive here in Newfoundland (we mainly buy frozen veg for this reason), so anything we can grow ourselves will definitely help both our diets and our grocery bill!

I will post regular garden updates with photos, but I don’t expect anyone else to be particularly interested – there are a bajillion other blogs doing exactly the same thing as this already, and they are probably much better organised and more engaging – I think this will mainly be for my own benefit, so I can keep track of our progress over the next few months.

I will of course still be posting my usual blogposts about various topics of interest, so this definitely won’t turn into a gardening-only blog!

Thanks for reading 🙂 If you have any tips or advice, or just want to share your own stories about growing food/flowers etc, I would love to hear from you, so please do comment or message me!

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8 Responses to How Does Your Garden Grow?

  1. peggyblank says:

    I’m interested 🙂 I love this post because of your attitude! I don’t know much about growing my own food either, but try a little. Currently I’m a little disheartened by minor set backs like pests eating my plants and not enough water. So I haven’t been blogging because I feel like I should write about stuff that works, good advice etc. However, I enjoyed reading this post and it made me realise that I DO want to keep trying to grow good edibles (and more) because there is much joy in the process even if you don’t get great yield 🙂

    • zanyzigzag says:

      Hi Peggy, thank you so much for commenting! It’s great to hear from someone else who’s gardening too. What sort of things are you growing?
      I can see why you would rather write about your successes – everyone loves seeing a happy ending! – but I think that writing about mistakes or unfortunate occurrences can also be really helpful too 🙂

      • peggyblank says:

        I’m growing spinach, tomatillos and chillies. I’m in Australia, so the opposite growing season to you. One great thing about our mild winters is that I can keep growing stuff. I’ll plant broad beans and lettuce from seed soon 🙂

  2. Some thoughts on growing:

    From my allotmenting experience courgettes were a doddle
    A cheap white plastic greenhouse from a budget shop will help start seeds off.
    Cornflowers are very easy to grow and don’t mind poor soil.
    Larkspur is happy with a cold start.
    Basil grows easily from seed but needs a warm start.
    Sharp scissors will do instead of secateurs for the strawberries – the leaf stalks aren’t that tough.
    The sweet peppers are ready to pot on, one per pot, about one size up from what you currently have them in. Check if they need ‘pinching out’ to form bushier plants with extra fruiting stems.
    Potatoes can be grown in a plastic dustbin with holes in the bottom.

    • zanyzigzag says:

      Wow, some fab tips here, thank you very much Victoria!

      • Further thoughts – your crocuses are a variety that flower in February here in Blighty so you can probably think about planting as if it’s late winter.

        A Canadian gardening book will let you know what ‘climate zone’ you are in so you can find out what will cope with the shorter switch to summer.

        There must be some sort of Canadian Horticultural Society with a website? Is there a gardening club in your town?

        Looking forward to your gardening updates!

      • zanyzigzag says:

        I’ve got a couple of Canadian gardening books out of the library and they were pretty helpful for learning more about the climate and best crops to grow here. They were even giving away free seeds at the library!

  3. Crikey, what a brilliant library! What varieties did you get?

    Thinking about those crocuses – how about having a winter garden? There’s a lot of shrubs that flower in winter in bare stems and are generally scented too – wintersweet, witch hazel, viburnum ‘Dawn’ and Christmas box are the ones that spring to mind. You could put them in that strip of grass under the window for George to look at.

    Hellebores and some other crocuses will flower in January – you want the species crocuses, not the larger Dutch ones. And species daffodils can go under the shrubs – they flower in March here, probably your June.

    How about shrubs and spring bulbs for the front, which will be low maintenance – and fruit and veg and annual flowers for the back? Have you thought of soft fruit – gooseberries are happy with the cold and so are black/white/red currants. Blackberries will grow up a wall and cultivated varieties are fairly thornless.

    We will need regular updates on this exciting new venture!

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