Over the past few weeks I have been struggling a lot, haven't we all? I know I am incredibly privileged to be safe, fed and warm. But this crisis is of course bringing a huge amount of worries. We had just been in the middle of a house move, the Forest Row Community Fridge had only just started, I was at the start of a very intensive module of my masters, I had planned one of the busiest 8 weeks over April & May of the whole year and to top it off, Lee went away for work for a few months.
We are very lucky that we still have our home on the farm. I have taken a huge step back from everything in the past few weeks. I have no doubt that we are entering a new phase of humanity, but whilst we deal with supermarket queues, not being able to get out and see our loved ones, I am trying to not get stressed about the future. I am just trying to get through and allowing the crisis to unfold as it will.
As much as I would love to be productive, learn a new language, I simply can't. In Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" she writes about creativity freezing up under pressure. I relate to this entirely. And so I have had to be kind to myself, as we are in the middle of a pandemic...
But one thing beyond journalling that has I have absolutely loved, that has been an escape, is gardening. Luckily, we're in the midst of spring and at this time of year we would naturally have been out in the garden getting things ready anyway. This year, I am focussing on our tiny patio bed, a more manageable size for us with the prospect of Scotland at some point this year. I realised that last year I hardly produced any blogs about the garden- it was mostly documented through Instagram stories, which is such a shame! So I'll try to write more about the garden and what I'm growing.
So here's a list of what I have planted so far & how they're growing. A video to go alongside the blog is at the bottom of the blog!
The egg tray method failed last year but I wanted to try again because it is in theory the perfect way to grow seedlings... It failed last year, but I am willing to give it another go. So in a big egg tray I planted tomatoes, broad beans, apple (trial), rocket and salad mix,
I planted 4 large tomato plant seeds and 4 hanging basket tomato seeds. They have taken a really long time to get going, I'm not sure if the egg tray has hampered growth?
Broad Beans: The broad beans took a long while to take off in the egg tray. Once off, I monitored them about 6 times a day. Three didn't take off at all, so I replanted in the veggie patch to see if they preferred the open soil. One day I went and checked on the broad beans that were ABOUT to fully sprout, and they were ALL gone. GUTTED!! Cheeky little birds have taken all of the seeds. So no broad beans. Seeds companies are completely sold out with huge waiting lists on online seed retailers (30,000!) So no beans!
Rocket: Last year, we grew rocket and it lived up to it's name and it ROCKETED in growth. We couldn't keep up. We ate rocket with every single meal and in the end grew completely fed up with it! When picked as leaves across plants it crops for a long time. I planted some this year because it's very fast growing. It's a great, easy salad crop. It's growing relatively well, but again, I think the egg trays stunt growth somewhat.
Salad Mix: Again, a fast grower and perfect for a solid crop in the summer. Growing well!
Apple: This was a complete wild card. I found the most delicious apple tree and foraged some apples last year- and kept some seeds. I am completely ignorant to how to grow apples- perhaps I should have planted the whole fruit. However, I kept the seeds to have a go, but they haven't grown.
The BBQ: I have repurposed an old metal BBQ into a raised bed. It's very usual but very handy! I've managed to close it during frosts- protecting seedling and it gets warm in the day. In the BBQ I have radishes and basil at the moment.
Radishes grow VERY fast and easily. They're a great starter. I have planted two small rows.
Basil: I adore fresh basil pesto. I've not have much luck growing basil so went perhaps a little bit overboard with the planting and now have a NUMBER of seedlings growing.
I love my little raised beds. I have also put a little temporary add on to the back of the beds, using old bricks found on the farm. In the beds last years Chard is still growing, it did absolutely brilliantly over winter and now with the sun has gone absolutely mad with growth! It's producing fantastically already and I've been eating it regularly- as picking leaves promotes growth. Considering it's one of my favourite vegetables, it's a challenge I will take on.
Also planted in the veg bed, I have put more chard into which is just starting to grow, a row of beetroot, grown for root and leaves which I love equally, I have a salad area ready for transplanting salad mixes and radishes. I also have an experimental patch, with regrown produce experiments of celery, lettuce and garlic.
In the "extension" was supposed to be the broad beans and peas. They'll have to wait......
I also have some seedling pots with extra radishes and beetroots. I have to say, they have done much better than the egg trays.
Courgettes are currently planted in terracotta pots and I hope to transplant to a big pot against the fence with some invention for growing against.
Also, we have aubergine, that is struggling. I'll update if it starts to grow.
Peppers are also not growing although planted and nurtured.
I have a strawberry plant (of very special variety- that my brother heavily researched!) that is currently growing in a (since cleaned) toilet cistern. It seems to love it.
And lastly, I am currently failing absolutely terribly at one very special plant. I have a blueberry bush, given to me from my brother. I have been wanting a blueberry bush for a long time- and found one on my doorstop one day, a lovely thoughtful gift from Bill. I absolutely adore it and will treasure it. However, apparently blueberry bushes are very hard to manage apparently, and already I'm doing a terrible job. Made trickier but the lack of access to garden centres and specialised food supplements!
So here is an update on the garden. I will try and follow again soon with updates and photographs.
I hope you're all well xo