Gardening · Uncategorized

Gardening on a Budget

You might not know this about me, but I’m a bit of a closet tree-hugger hippie type. I love the idea of being able to grow my own veggies/food, stuff which I know doesn’t have pesticides or other stuff on it. However… I’m not very good at gardening. My thumbs are not green. There are a few things I can grow – most notably basil – but apart from that, I’m afraid I’m just not that good.

But why should I let that deter me from trying to grow more stuff? If at first you don’t succeed… kill more plants. Not really. But anyway. The other problem I had with growing anything was a severe lack of space in which to grow anything. Husband and I live in a granny flat which has paving all around it – the only spot of open ground is under the lemon tree – which, as it is a)very shady and b)regularly has lemons falling on it, is not all that friendly towards other plants. So in December last year Hubby and I built a little veggie garden, on top of the existing paving. In hindsight, we probably should have made the bed smaller and taller, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. All excited, I went out and bought some plants. Visions of tables overflowing with fresh veggies filled my mind as we dug and planted all sorts of lovely little plants. The sad thing is that they all grew, slowly, but none of the veggies really got big enough/ripe enough to eat. We had lots of cucumbers… all around 7cm long. We had lots of butternut flowers… but no butternut. Lots of watermelon flowers… but – yup, you guessed it! – no watermelon. The green pepper plants grew beautifully tall! but then the green peppers never got much bigger than a pea. Green peppers may be cute when they’re small, but they’re not good for much. Carrot tops sprouted, but the cats dug them up before they could grow big enough to do anything. (No idea why the carrots were singled out for destruction, but I guess such is life. Or such is death if you’re a carrot in my house.) The only things which grew well enough to be used were my basil plants and my mint plants. Not even my tomatoes did very well!

However – this year shall be different! I’ve had 6 months to mourn the loss of my veggies, do research on why they died – and I think the reason is that they didn’t have enough sun. Veggies like sun – who knew? But I have all sorts of plans on what to do this year… I’m going to try a sort of hanging garden against the vibracrete wall. Will serve two purposes. 1) It will hide the hideousness of the vibracrete. And 2)the veggies should get lots of sun. With the added bonus of not being available as a litter box for my kitties! Everybody wins!

Here, however, is where you all come in. I need some advice. 1 – What should I plant in the (rather shady and shallow) bed which used to have my veggie plants in it? I’m going to do my herbs again – they seemed happy last time – but any other advice? and 2 – what veggies grow easily and happily and won’t die on me? I’m not sure my psyche could handle another mass death of veggies. Thoughts?

Hoping for advice

(Hoping not to be) Veggie-Killer

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3 thoughts on “Gardening on a Budget

  1. I think you should mount mirrors on the top of your vibracrete wall to redirect sunlight into your vegetable box. It’ll probably scare the cats away too!

  2. Most importantly is to find out what herbs/veggies likes the shade, and plant them in the shady spots and veggies/herbs that loves the sun plant in the full sun.

    Here is a few shady lovers and some ideas that you can maybe make use of:

    Comfrey – this is an invasive herb so choose your spot carefully, it is a very leafy dense herb so good for ground cover. It has lovely flowers too that the bees love. One can never ever have to many bees.
    Comfrey is a very versatile and therefore a useful herb to have in the garden or near a vegetable patch. The leaves can be used as a compost activator and you can also use the leaves to make a good liquid feed although the smell will not be pleasant when brewing!

    Leaves left in between rows of vegetables will add nutrients to the soil and also apparently attract slugs away from your crops (haven’t tested this yet). Comfrey leaves have healing properties so are great to have around to use to make comfrey oil or ointments.

    Lemon Balm and Mints – these will tolerate shade and most mints are also happy in damp shade as well. Just make sure you plant mint in a pot or else it will take over. Trust me that is the only thing i could grow.

    Coriander – The most common problem with this herb is that it goes to seed too quickly, one way of slowing this down (apart from making sure you choose the right variety in the first place) is to grow it in the garden in a shady/semi-shady position.

    Parsley. One can never ever have to much parsley and play with the different varieties, curly leaf and Italian.

    Sweet Woodruff – this one is good for ground cover and has pretty little white flowers in the spring. Sweet Violet – usually found growing at the edge of woodland, under hedges or shrubs. Nice thing about herb flowers most can be used with food decoration plus attracting loads of interesting and good insects. Hopefully not to eat your veggies – LOL!!

    Wild Strawberry – these will supply you with vanilla flavoured tiny strawberries and send out runners absolutely everywhere!

    Primrose – Chives – a useful herb to have or Chervil.

    Well these are just a few ideas to ponder over. Dont feel bad about paving. Herbs loves pots and you can easily pot lots of them all over. They will make the place look more nicer.

  3. I would recommend planting beans, they take up little space and are very easy to grow. You get bush beans or climbing beans, I usually go with the bush beans. Try growing cherry tomatoes as the fruit doesn’t take long to mature so I always find they grow easier than the big tomatoes. Peppers are generally easy to grow, perhaps it was just as you said that they were lacking sun? Aubergines are also a winner! Make sure your plants are very well fed. I like using chicken manure on my veggies. You can get it in pelleted form which is easy to work with.

    Happy gardening!!

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