Chapter 2: Waiting, excitement, disappointment and first harvesting
Finally the weather has warmed up. Things are moving quickly in the garden now, so time for an update. Lots has happened since I wrote my first chapter about our vegetable garden. We have waited and waited for seeds to sprout, we have been excited about some sprouting and disappointed about quite a few not moving at all. We even had our very first little harvesting already.
After preparing the soil and our first sowing session we had to wait a long time to see something changing again. We started fairly early in the season, that was beginning of Marh already. It was still pretty cold and it stayed cold for a long time still, as if winter only started in February this year. That is why we kept the little seedlings on the kitchen sill for a while, but quite soon I wanted to move them out and we put it under the plastic tunnel in the garden. At least that kept them a little warmer and we hoped that would speed up the sprouting.
While we were waiting for the first seeds to sprout, we had time to plan and think where all those seedlings would go once they had grown into baby plants. There was probably room for some more, what else could we plant or sow still?
We drew a plan and tried to stick to it when time went on, but the plan you can see here, I must admit, was drawn after most of the planting and sowing had been done already, it was hard to stick to the plan as it was, we have been planning in a flexible way…
In the picture below, my daughter is making sure everybody knows where they are allowed to walk on and where not. If the plants are tiny still, or you have sown in the open soil, that isn’t always clear for enthusiastic little gardeners and it is not unlikely they would damage their own hard work. Big sister here is making sure her little brothers won’t cause any damage, she created a beautiful little fence al long the paths.
First baby plants sprout!
I took this picture on the 29th of March, exactly 3 weeks after we had sown. The first seeds had sprouted! Everything was still safely under the tunnel, so they needed watering quite often as the rain couldn’t reach them.
Here are a few more of the baby plants, we had sown these a bit later.
Then one day I was very surprised to see these in the veggie patch. The rhubarb had come out again. I only planted this last summer and nothing was left of it, I thought it had died, but suddenly it was there again!
It took us quite a while to realise, but in the end we had to accept the fact that many of our seeds were not sprouting at all. I haven’t counted how many, but after about 6 weeks more or less quite a few of our seeds still hadn’t sprouted. Worse was that when we left the plastic cover off for just a short amount of time, the birds or squirrels had come to pick the seeds out. They liked the peas especially, they left the pots with a little hole in the middle, just to show us what they had done!
Because there were more seeds that didn’t sprout, than what we had expected and Spring had sprung eventually, we did buy some tiny vegetable plants in the local garden centre. We bought strawberries, red lettuce, cauliflower and some extra carrots, because we do eats lots of those last ones! The advantage of planting as opposed to sowing, is not just that is saves times, but also that you are less likely to loose some, it is easier to plan that way. The plants are a bit stronger already and the birds seem to prefer the seeds above all.
This is how the garden looked like when we had finished all our planting, some seeds were still left under the tunnel not so much for warmth now, but to protect them from the birds.
All the bright green leaves in the front are the radishes. My son had sown those on the 6th of March already, so by this time they were growing nicely!
We gave the strawberries a little bed of straw so that the berries don’t lay on the bare soil, that would make them rot easily. Another benefit of the straw is that is very prickly for the slugs, so hopefully they will leave them alone this year. Another trick to keep slugs away is putting broken egg shells around the vegetables, I think I will give that a go as well. We eat plenty of eggs, so there are always shells available.
The radishes are the only thing we have sown in the open soil on that cold day in the beginning of March. They were covered under that plastic cover just like the little pots for the first 6 weeks or so and they came out beautifully! We had to thin them out because my son had been very enthusiastic with the seeds, but then they grew so very nicely as you can see.
My son wanted to grow them because he had seen Peter Rabbit making big efforts to snitch some from Mr. Mc Greggor’s garden and then enjoy them thoroughly afterwards . When the radishes were ready he was keen to taste them because he had never tasted radishes before. He tried and he also did really try to like them, but it was not what he had expected, a bit too bitter for his taste. I saw some really funny faces when the other two tasted as well, but my husband and I did really like them, they are so juicy and crispy and so rich in flavour, the kind of quality you only get when you eat something straight after picking.
Then finally some really warm and dry days came, we even had to get the hose out. Funny how much more help I get with the watering when that hose appears!
Fruit at the back of the garden
In the meantime the rhubarb and the blackberries are growing well in the back of the garden. The blueberry bush I only planted last summer is doing great as well, it has so many beautiful white flowers, they will soon grow into the yummy berries. We will have to protect them from the birds soon now, but for I love to enjoy the sight of that wonderful blossom until then.
We will be cooking soon!
Not long now and we will be eating strawberry and rhubarb crumble with fruit from our own garden. We will be having blueberry cake or blueberries with or homemade speculaas granola and yoghurt for breakfast! We will be having a blackberry tart for one of the birthdays. And we might have beetroot risotto, parsnip chips and cauliflower crackers later, everything with fruit and veggies from the garden! The recipes for the cauliflower and the veggie burger with chips have to come on this blog still, but you can go have a look at my blog in Dutch for a preview.