MY LITTLE KITCHEN GARDEN

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It’s that fabulous time of year when Spring seems to be dancing into Summer, when I can wander around with my tattoos out (the ones on my arms, anyway) and I can scatter some seeds into buckets and bags and pop back a few weeks later to some home grown goodness. Regular readers will know that I’ve grown herbs and chillies on my window sill for a few years now – my saving grace when I had a very small budget for storecupboard ingredients and frozen veg – and this year I branched out into growing Other Things. I wanted to do simple things, that are usually pricey to buy in the shops, but easy to grow…

At the moment, we have radishes (‘bright lights’ in jewel colours of deep purple, bright yellow and fuschia, and ‘french breakfast’, long and pointed with shocking pink fading into a bright white). We also have a LOT of parsley, basil, rocket, cavolo, one strawberry plant out of 30 seeds (something went a little wrong somewhere), mint, a lot of salad leaves, and a few sticks of rhubarb clinging in from last year.

We’ve also planted roots in a vegetable patch – little round carrots, potatoes, split up and planted a garlic clove, dwarf beans, and perpetual spinach – I’ll keep you posted on those!

And I’m lucky enough to have some outdoor space to grow things this year, but radishes will do well on a sunny window ledge (I always ignore the spacing instructions on the backs of packets of seeds and just toss them in, seems to work for me, I’ve had 130 of the things so far…). Salad leaves will also do well indoors, and herbs. Most things will grow well in a bucket, cheaper to buy from hardware stores than fancy flower pots, just stab a few holes in it with a skewer or knife to allow them to drain.

You can also use old drinks bottles and milk bottles as propagators for growing indoors. Cut the bottle in half horizontally, make a few holes in the bottom for drainage, fill the bottom half with soil and compost, plant the seeds, and pop the top back on to make an indoor greenhouse to germinate your seeds. I tried this last year and didn’t get around to blogging about it – but it works really well, and the 2l drinks bottles are the perfect size for popping on a window ledge all in a row. I’ll try to find some pics from last year and post them up here – I planted out my chilli plant into one to shield it from the winter cold, and it was a very happy and productive little chilli plant!

 

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Jack.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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22 thoughts on “MY LITTLE KITCHEN GARDEN

  1. Hi Jack,
    I’ve started to grow chillies and the seeds have sprouted, there are now a few (I don’t know what to call them) in the propagator so I’ll need to pot. Does that mean I’ll get loads of chilli plants?

    • @Twinkle – you need to separate the plants into reasonably sized pots to get the best yield, although they should still grow and produce even if you don’t bother (to separate them). Just make sure they’re in a warm, sunny location, and don’t overwater them.

      But yes, assuming your seedlings all survive you will have loads of chili plants. Never a bad thing :)

  2. I recommend you try permaculture to work with nature and maximise your return with a minimum of effort. Companion planting can increase yields significantly – you want to plant things which aid and don’t hinder each other by taking the same nutrients from the soil. I’ve just started a blog about it, because I found it so hard to find information about doing it in an established small garden, rather than acres and acres of virgin soil in America.

  3. Tip of the week- if you are a person who seems to have black thumbs as regards getting seeds to germinate then this is an alternative way of getting an enormous crop of salad leaves costing between 99p – £1:20 depending upon the supermarket. Cheaper than many packets of seeds are too.

    Buy one of those trays of ‘Living Salads’ sold in ASDA, Waitrose or Tesco’s (where we’ve seen them) that have the plantlets growing in a seed tray of compost. Gently check the underneath of the tray and choose one with no roots growing out of the bottom. This will make it easier to do what we’re going to do.

    Each pair of leaves is one whole young plant and the trays usually comprise hundreds of plants. You will need to put a decent layer of potting compost into a pot, tub or in a prepared bed in the garden; alternatively use a grow bag. Gently tease apart the salad plantlets into clumps and plant each clump into the compost, adding more to bed them in. Water and cover with clear plastic for a few days to encourage fresh roots and reduce water loss from any root disturbance.

    From one tray you will get hundreds of cut and come again salad leaves. Easy!

  4. You just can’t beat homegrown both for money saving and for flavour can you.

    A little tip if you have a pot of Rosemary or a plant in the garden, cut a good sprig off and leave it in an inch or so of water on your windowsill, within a week it will have roots and can be potted on…. another Rosemary plant for free and they look lovely both indoors and out.

    I did this by accident as I cut one sprig too many the other week and left the spare one in a jam jar on the windowsill, now it’s ready for potting :-)

    • Both daughters have rosemary plants, but DD2 has just asked if I will do a bay cutting for her. Any tips on the best way to do that Sue? I will take a semi ripe cutting and pot it up. Maybe I’ll pop one in a jar too and see if it will root like your rosemary.
      Our garden is growing madly right now. The tomatoes are shooting for the stars and the salad leaves are springing up everywhere. I love this time of year

  5. Keep your one Strawberry plant healthy and watered, it will send runners out towards the end of the summer and you’ll have lots of plants, I started with four last year ended up with 35+ plants this year! just remember to cut of the dead leaves come autumn

  6. If you know anyone with a horse it is not unusual for them to have a bucket or two that the horse has trashed (in addition to the ‘fertiliser’ they provide).
    Home grown and harvested leaves are so much nicer, and cheaper, than the bags of salad.

  7. Please put plastic cups or similar on those sticks in garden have visions of young boy getting one in eye

  8. So glad your blog is back in date order – found the change very confusing and stopped looking at it, but just needed to check your dried mushroom recipe and will now have to catch up with the last couple of months’ entries!

  9. I was going to say the same as Fidget. You’ll easily get at least half a dozen new plants off it. Just peg the runners down with something, they’ll root and give you baby plants. Once those look reasonably safe you just cut the umbilical cord. And then the same next year with all your babies ad infinitum.

    Thrifty Lesley, bay is not so easy to do cuttings of, but – ahem, polishes halo, I think I may have managed it this year. My bay tree put out suckers from the bottom and I pushed the earth back till I got to the join and took those out as completely as I could, like heel cuttings. I remembered my Mum wanted to do one once and she read up on it. She had to pot it up and cover the pot with a plastic bag like a mini greenhouse, then she put it on the windowledge. So with mine I did pretty much the same. I put them in a reasonable sized pot with a plastic bell cloche over the top, then put that in my cold frame for the rest of the summer with the cold frame lid up. It just kept the whole thing a little bit sheltered. They didn’t seem dead or struggling by the time winter came on so I put the pot in the shed window for added protection and left it there till all risk of frost was past, and back into the coldframe again. Then I started taking the cloche off for daytimes only for a bit until the really milder weather came. Now they are just in the pot out in the open. They have all got some new leaves on and a couple of my 5 have definitely started growing taller than the others. At some stage I have to be brave and separate them so they can go in their own individual pots. I’ve just come past my mature bay tree and notice 3 new suckers – I may go into business!… I was really eager to try last year because when we went on holiday my son nigh on managed to kill my bay tree for lack of watering. I was horrified at the price of a new one which was nothing like the size mine is! My little cuttings were my insurance policy.

    • Lizzie – hmm, that sounds complicated! I have only recently moved my huge bay tree. I had put it where some raspberries had failed to grow, then decided I wanted to have another go with the raspberries. So it probably won’t have any suckers for a while (it doesn’t seem to have been upset by the brutal move at all, where it was uprooted, drastically cut back and replanted!) . In view of the lack of suckers, I’ll try doing a normal cutting, but in view of what you say, I won’t hold my breath!

      • I’ve just potted up my 5 baby bay trees. They seem all to have a reasonable looking root system on them so we’ll see in good time if they continue to thrive and survive. Good lulck with yours anyway.

  10. If anyone wants help with growing veg, soft fruit or herbs, I’d recommend nipping over to YouTube and looking up Alys Fowler. There are about 1/2 a dozen episodes of her show ‘The Edible Garden’ and it’s fantastic. Very easy to follow, and with an emphasis on growing organic & not spending wads of cash.

  11. Growing tomatoes, peppers (sweet & habeniero), cucumbers, green beans, kale, okra, basil, oregano in the raised bed out side of the kitchen…Mint, rosemary, and sage in pots in the kitchen. Nothing like being able to step out back and pick something for supper.

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