With Spring in full flow, and Summer just around the corner, our courtyard is in full bloom. And with the exception of the lavender, everything we’re growing is edible. Our long-term goal is to have a plot of land where we can grow even more fruit and vegetables, but for the time being we’re not doing too badly with a few pots, our vegepod, and a little patch of soil in front of our gate.
Once again the tomatoes are going gangbusters in the vegepod, and it looks like we’re going to have another excellent crop. We’re being careful to do a lot more pinching this year to try and keep their growth in check. The lid of the vegepod restricts their growth to some degree but, left to their own devices, tomatoes will just keep growing.
We’re also growing green beans again this year. We’ve got six plants in the vegepod that have been constantly producing beans. You should pick the beans regularly before they get oversized and lose some of their flavour. Also, regular picking of the beans will encourage more growth.
I’ve still got masses of chillies in the freezer from last year’s crop but I couldn’t resist planting another one. They’re so easy to grow, and I love the bright red colour among the sea of green. Plus, chillies can be dried or frozen. You can never have too many chillies!
The basil took a bit of a battering when we first planted it, and I was worried it wasn’t going to do very well. Something started munching on it almost immediately, something that turned out to be slugs. As much as slugs aren’t my favourite creatures, I don’t want to kill them, and as an aspiring organic gardener I don’t want to spray my plants with chemicals. Last year I spent a fair bit of time armed with a torch and stick, and went about finding these mini menaces and rehoming them. This year we’ve tried a different tactic in an attempt to stop the slugs from reaching the basil in the first place. Gravel. We’ve sprinkled gravel around the base of the plant to make it harder for the slugs to reach. The logic being that slugs do not want to drag themselves over sharp gravel. It certainly seems to have done the trick as there has been significantly less munching, and the basil is thriving.
Caterpillars are causing me problems again, most particularly with my mint plant. They ate so much of the plant that we were left with no more than a woody tangle of mess and very little leaf. Mint is a hardy beast, almost weed-like in its ability to grow and spread, but the caterpillars are proving to be a worthy adversary. We ended up chopping it right back to the ground to give it a fresh start. It’s already started coming back to life but the first little leaves were immediately munched. I caught two green caterpillars brazenly having a feast yesterday afternoon. They were immediately relocated. So at the moment I’m not sure how to tackle the caterpillar crisis. I need to do some research on how I can deter them from their minty meal. For the time being we’ll have to cut back on the Mojitos.
Our hybrid Meyer lemon tree is currently in its fourth year, and producing lots of fruit. We repotted it about six weeks ago and since then we’ve seen lots of new leaf growth and loads of flowers. It’s still a young tree so I have no doubt it will drop some of its fruit but each year we’re harvesting more and more lemons. A change of soil seemed to do it wonders. The new growth and buds have come in a little later this year but I expect we’ll have ripe lemons around August.
Sadly, I’ve lost a third thyme plant. I’m not sure where I’m going wrong with this herb but I just can’t get them to grow. They become stunted before withering and then dying. I’ve tried them in both the vegepod and out in separate pots but neither worked. They get what they need in terms of sunlight and water but still they refuse to grow. I wonder if perhaps I don’t have the right type of soil. We’re now trying a lemon thyme instead to see if this one yields better results. If I kill another one then I may have to accept that I don’t have the right conditions for this type of plant.
In other news, we’ve discovered a couple of rogue mystery plants in the vegepod. At first I thought they were weeds but I was informed by a gardener far more experienced than myself (my dad) that they most certainly are not weeds. From the look of the leaves they’ve been identified as most likely being zucchini plants. It appears they found their way into the vegepod via our compost. At some point we would have composted a whole zucchini, and then some of the seeds germinated in the soil. To cut a long story short, a zucchini was composted and now we have zucchini plants. I was told they’d be much too big for the vegepod so we took two of the strongest looking plants and transplanted them to a sunny patch next to our front gate. Transplanting can be a stressful time for plants so they were kept in shade for the first day to try and ease them into their new home. So far they seem to be doing really well. Time will tell if they turn out to be the zucchini plants they claim to be.
So apart from the caterpillars waging war on our mint plant, and the thyme refusing to play ball, everything seems to be doing well. We continue to be gardeners without a garden but our pots and vegepod are serving us well.