Meanwhile, in the garden…

wild primrose

wild primrose


Easter has come and gone, and those of you lucky enough to have a garden may well have been out in it planting things. I don’t have a garden, and my mum is probably raising her eyebrows right now because I didn’t get that much done in hers over Easter, but I do have a terrace, and I am looking forward to trying my hand at growing a few plants this year.

I’ve grown vegetables in pots before, but not without pesticides and fertilisers. This year will be different, I intend to follow the growing trend and see how well I manage without chemical assistance. If it’s good enough for Michelle Obama, it’s good enough for me!

Michelle Obama wants to plant an organic garden in the white house lawn, and apparently this is upsetting the agricultural chemicals industry in the US. They are concerned that it sends the wrong message because it is organic. This despite the fact that more and more people out there are moving away from pesticide use. The fourth Semaine sans Pesticides (‘week without pesticides’), just last month, was twice the size of the one last year.

Preparing for pesticide application.
Image via Wikipedia

14 countries participated, from Canada, South America, Europe, and Africa (a summary is available online). Pesticides are nasty chemicals, and it seems a lot of people, the world over, think we can do without using so much or so many of them. But how?

Fortunately for the small gardener, there’s a lot of good information out there about natural pest control, such as using coffee to repel slugs and snails, using neem oil as an environmentally-friendly pesticide, companion planting, for mutual pest-resistance, selecting plants to attract useful insects, and growing vegetables in pots. I’ve even read some of it, and have decided what I want to grow this year.

I want to grow lettuce, beetroot, chard, and spring onions. Beetroot leaves are good in salads, so they’re not just for the roots. I also want to plant a few herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, mint), as much for the smell as anything. I’ve chosen these plants for a variety of reasons:

  • they’re easy and fast to grow, so I can hope to get something quickly
  • for the most part, they’re cut-and-come-again, so I can hope for a long season
  • lettuce and chard, in particular, don’t keep too well in the fridge. By growing my own, I hope to have them fresh whenever I want them.
  • they don’t need staking, so occasional high winds and storms won’t damage them (I hope)
  • in the event of a disaster (hailstorm, heatwave, locusts, whatever) I should be able to replace them rapidly
Jasmine with carrot

Jasmine with carrot

Incidentally, if your parrot likes beetroot, do bear in mind that it retains its colour as it passes through the digestive system of your feathered friend. Jasmine liked beetroot, but the first few times we gave it to her we were a little concerned about the red droppings at the bottom of the cage a few hours later!

I also want to grow some flowers, partly for the colour but also for the local birds and insects – some of them anyway. The local bees will probably like the thyme, and I’m sure they’ll go for sunflowers too. The sunflower heads will be kept for feeding the birds later in the autumn and winter.

The minimal research I’ve done so far suggests that french marigolds are good at deterring aphids, so they’ll be very much in evidence, in and around the other plants. Nasturtiums are easy and, if I am to believe what I hear, edible too, but I’m not convinced. Maybe I’ll try them, maybe not.

I don’t intend to be too ambitous with my gardening this year. I won’t have a great deal of time for it and I’m not expecting to save a lot of money. I do expect to grow some tasty food, and to have a lot of fun in the process. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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One Response [lang_en]to[/lang_en][lang_fr]pour[/lang_fr] “Meanwhile, in the garden…”

  1. Gardening update | Song for Jasmine Says:

    [...] in April, I described my gardening plans for this year. Time for an update! It’s been seven weeks since then, so I ought really to be [...]