I spent yesterday afternoon tidying up the garden for winter. I cut back the wild rose bush (because it’s got too tall) and the fuchcia and other misc shrubs (because they were stopping the gate from opening proper), and turned over the vegetable bed/tubs.

I haven’t grown as much variety of veg as I did last year. I decided to concentrate on things we would use (more than just things I thought would grow) and things that would grow in the north-facing rocky, clay-y soil that we’re stuck with. I started with beans (broad and french) and peas (sugar snaps and garden) in tubs, and onions (from sets) and potatoes (from sprouting old ones) in the main bed. Everything started fine until the slugs and snails descended and by the time they were gone, so had most of the peas and beans seedlings. I planted some more peas out in the bed but it was too late to start any more beans (I tried, they died).

The sugar snap peas in the bed were the only real success story this year. I planted a lot of seeds, reasonably close together and supported them with canes and netting. We had several good sized servings (but later on, had to fight the slugs for them). We boiled them for a couple of minutes (until they turned a brighter green but were still crunchy) and had them in a pasta dish (with crunchy boiled carrots, toasted pinenuts and olives, tossed in olive oil): they were delicious so well worth another go next year.

The potatoes weren’t as bountiful as I had hoped – some plants didn’t produce at all. Strangely, the ones closest to the house (that get the least sun) were the most productive and kicked out some huge potatoes. I think I would have preferred a larger amount of smaller ones but since they’re probably going to be used for mash due to my silly paranoia*, it’s probably better this way around.

This year was my first year growing onions from sets and it was a bit disappointing. I suspect it is my fault from planting them too close together but they didn’t grow very big at all. I planted about 80 sets and harvested about 40 small onions (mostly white but perhaps a dozen red). I replanted the rest of the onions figuring they might resprout again for next year. The onions were too small (and I worried they were damp so wouldn’t dry properly) to easily use for cooking on a daily basis so I decided to peel, slice and freeze them in batches instead of having them hang around the kitchen. It took longer than I thought (I’m glad I decided to do it while cooking a soup instead of before) and my hands still stink of onions after a shower and using one of those metal odour-removing soap bar things – but at least they didn’t make me cry too much. The soup was ace too – but I don’t know whether that was the onions or my wonderful culinary skillzz. It also only cost about 15p for a huge vat of it – I heart soup.

* Despite having had home-grown veg all my life, my mind gets a bit icked out when it thinks about things that have grown in the dirt in my front garden. Because, ugh, it’s dirty. So I get really obsessive about checking everything and discarding it if it is at all bitten/bruised/not 100% perfect. I find this really strange since I know supermarket bought veg will not undergo such scrutiny and it’s only “clean” because it’s been subject to pesticides until there is no natural (essential) bacteria left in the similarly-dirty soil and washed with chemicals before it’s transported thousands of miles. Silly mind.

(photos to follow)