Thursday, July 22

OMG look what I grew!

I haven't really written much about my battles with the mum-out-law's garden, mainly because they have been relatively fruitless and have involved lots of very dull weeding.

Until now, that is!

Elaine has a small back garden in Peckham which fell into disuse when she became bedridden. A lot of it is concrete, but it does have some flower beds, one of which she used to grow potatoes and spring onions in. I say 'grew' very loosely in that I think she used to throw out the leftovers from the kitchen and sometimes they would take root.

When she became confined to her bedroom, I took on the care of the garden mostly to keep the weeds down, but then I decided that if I was going to do some work, I should at least try to grow something useful. I got a free compost bin from the council, dug up as many weeds as I could manage, and planted a load of bulbs the first year. Not many came up the first year, but I kept up the weeding and the second year (this spring) was rewarded with a beautiful display of narcissi, tulips and so on. It gave me the impetus to keep going.

I planted a lavender bush, some sage and a rather stunted blackcurrant bush that was marked down at the garden centre. The honeysuckle and clematis that hated the hot conditions on my balcony were rehoused on the shady side of her fence.

We cut back the gnarled old apple tree and pruned the pear tree, which still fruits copiously each year - not the most tasty pears but great for chutney!

One side of the garden (the one that gets most of the sunshine) is earmarked for veg, but it mostly has to be low-maintenance veg since we are not there often enough to keep up the watering. This year I planted beetroot for the first time in my life, a couple of rows of potatoes and a couple of rows of beans.

We nursed the young beets through their first few weeks, and watered occasionally whenever we could, but it's been so hot the last few weeks I fully expected everything to be dead when we went round there this evening.

Not one bit of it - the beetroot had suddenly somehow grown to a respectable size and the beans, from what I could see in the dusk light, are desperately in need of sticks! I brought a few beets home and look forward to a few more in due course. This weekend I'm off to do some proper maintenance of the garden, and will try to get a few more photos. But I can honestly say that I am inordinately proud of my success so far, especially in view of the minimal effort!

Now, anyone got a great recipe for beetroot preserve?


Clare said...

That's fab!

colleen said...

Hurrah for beetroot. I love it freshly cooked myself, that wonderful sweet earthy flavour.

You might like to make some "chrain", a mixture of beets and horseradish, which might appeal to your taste for heat. My mother in law loved it. This is the sort of recipe, and there are others of you google, though I have not made it myself yet:

I'm planning to make a red velvet chocolate cake with mine idc.

knit nurse said...

Thanks Colleen, sounds great - I have bought beetroot and horseradish chutney from the farmer's market at Otley, W Yorks in the past. I like the idea of making it - but where does one get horseradish from?

Rowan said...

how about pickling the beetroot?

colleen said...

I've seen horseradish for sale, but not often, I must admit. Was it Waitrose. Or you could always forage it I guess.