Last summer, I grew tomatoes for the first time, in the run-down little glasshouse we inherited from the previous owners of our house. I have marvelled at exotic plants in my Mum and Dad’s garden for years, and more recently I have helped out in their nursery. In the last five years or so I have really become enthusiastic about the garden and gardening, but for the first time I now have my own garden, and fruit and vegetable growing is a totally new world to me.
The garden was on the list of must-haves when we were looking to step onto the property ladder, although this was pretty hard to find with our limited budget. 2008 was a very busy year, what with planning my wedding, and starting this new job, as well as trying to do-up the new house, which was desperately in need of some love and attention (and a lot of elbow grease). So the garden was going to have to wait. Simple. We needed a functioning bathroom and kitchen first!
But it wasn’t that simple – I got twitchy, and decided the glasshouse would be a good place to begin. A few panes of glass needed replacing (although some damaged ones have had to remain for now), and there was an awful lot of rubbish, but after a hard morning’s work, the glasshouse was clear, I had made beds down either side, and I later planted my tomato and capsicum seedlings, and a cucumber plant (I was lucky to have my grandad’s assistance with the plants). Being in the glasshouse or doing a bit of weeding was an escape from the noise of sanders and the smell of paint, and the crops were delicious – I was amazed at how easy it was to get such great rewards.
In anticipation of more freshly grown crops this year, and hoping to save some money, my husband and I set about creating a raised vegetable bed last weekend. My family of farmers are great hoarders, and I do not like to spend unnecessarily, so we rummaged through all sorts of treasure (or junk) tucked away around the yard, and in barns – there was bound to be something we could construct the bed with. We found some old planks, and cut them to size before squashing them into the cars to get them home. We scrounged some topsoil and well-rotted farmyard manure to fill the bed, and four or five trips later, and pleased with our progress, we were finished.
I have now planted an assortment of vegetable seeds in the bed, including purple radish, black carrots, and beetroot ‘Bolthardy’, an old favourite my grandad has grown for years. What will grow is yet to be seen. I found some old hanging baskets, which were lying around unused and neglected at the farm, so now I have baskets of strawberries (‘Cambridge Favourite’) and tomatoes as well.
The tomatoes and peppers in the glasshouse are in now too, and I have the next few months to see how my crops fare. No doubt there will be lessons to learn, but hopefully also successes to spur this little venture on. I can’t wait to try my first crops, and look forward to using some ‘proper’ veg in the kitchen. A tomato I am trying for the first time this year is called TOMAZING™ – I shall have to wait and see if any of my crops are amazing.