Friday 7 October 2011

The Good Life

Husband and I have been making the most of the recent good weather by spending as much time as we could in our garden, which this year has been a bit neglected as a result of my work schedule and the dismal weather that we have had here in the north west of England. We did have some good weather but it invariably seemed to be on the days that I was working. So once gain I have to apologise for absenting myself from Blogland. Husband has now had his two cataract ops. and it has been ideal recuperation to be able to potter around in the garden in warm sunny weather, even if he has had to wear sun glasses.

This year for the first time we have had a taste of the good life. For those of you who do not live in the UK or who are too young to remember, The Good Life was a TV sitcom about a young couple, Tom and Barbara Good played by Richard Briars and Felicity Kendall, who dropped out of the rat race and tried to become self sufficient by growing fruit and vegetables and keeping a pig. We do not have a pig but we have grown vegetables for the first time this year.

Summer 2010 and this is what our vegetable garden looked like.

The shed was purchased on 2005 to temporarily house the contents of our largely asbestos garage while it was rebuilt. It ended up full of all sorts and it was a mammoth task to empty it so that we could sell it which we managed to do about a year ago.

Summer 2011 the vegetable garden looked like this.

The vegetable garden is husband's 'baby' and I have left it pretty much up to him to organise it and grow what he wants. He bought the raised beds in kit form. He also bought the soil to fill the raised beds and has installed an irrigation system. The plants came from a garden centre. I am not sure if we shall ever get our money back or break even on this project. Next year maybe we shall try to grow the plants from seed.

The first vegetable that we were able to harvest was the spinach and we have continued to pick it on a regular basis for several weeks now. However, the leaves are now noticeably smaller. Next were the lettuces, cauliflowers and broccoli. Unfortunately some went to seed, as we did not watch them carefully enough. This year it has all been a bit of an experiment and next year we shall know better. The mange tout exceeded our  wildest expectations with a bumper crop. We had thought that our Cheshire climate would not be warm enough for them. The peas also did well and were far better than any frozen peas.

Carrots and cabbages have been a first for us. Carrots you would expect to be straight forward, but they have been anything but. Now I know why in days gone by housewives did not go out to work. It takes time and imagination to prepare something that looks edible from a carrot that resembles an octopus. The sprouts look to be about ready to harvest, but we must wait for a frost before we pick them. Amazing is the only description for our potato crop. We did not expect the rather sorry looking seed potatoes that we bought to do much at all, but we have enough potatoes to feed an army. Our courgettes crop has been our best ever. We have grown them before, always from seed I might add. Then there are the runner beans which are still producing.
Also we have had a good crop of tomatoes. I do not seem to have much luck with tomato seeds, so have always bought them as plants. This variety is Gardener's Delight. I find that the smaller tomatoes ripen better, than larger ones, in our relatively cool climate.

Lastly there is the fruit crop. The fruit cage contains raspberries and blackberries. Only the late raspberries have done well this year. Hopefully next year we shall do better with the fruit as we are both partial to raspberries. Finally there are two ancient cooking apple trees in our garden. We have already had some wind falls but will not harvest the main crop for a few weeks yet.

It has been a very worth while experiment. It has given husband more interest in the garden than he has had as he tends to leave most of it to me. Picking fresh vegetables from the garden and eating them within hours, rather than days for supermarket bought vegetables, has been an absolute pleasure. 


Jennytc said...

It all looks lovely, CW. I don't know why but carrots always seem to be awkward to grow - I have this on good authority from people who know something about gardening, ie. not me! ;)

Jenny Woolf said...

Wow, I am always so envious of vegetable gardens like this. I have a small bit of land on which I grow veggies and then I always find I don't know how to stake the tomatoes, or the damn beans don't climb up the pole I supply for them, etc .

mrsnesbitt said...

Oh wow! Indeed wow! Our sheds seem to have been designated log stores even the hens share with a pile of logs! All looking very appetising! We too are just getting to grips with the garden now - preparing for the winter!

the fly in the web said...

Sheds seem destined to be filled with things Mr. Fly deems to be essential and not to be thrown out. When he fills one he gets another...
It is great to have a veg garden...we are learning how to do it in the tropics.

Suburbia said...

Wow! Your veg patch looks great :-)

Rosaria Williams said...

You were very lucky this year, thanks to good beginnings, raised beds and compost, and lots of good work from both of you.
I don't bother with carrots here-our weather is a lot like yours-taking too long to grow, and then, not too well either.
I do grow lots of berries, peas and lettuces too.
Artichokes do well here. Try them, if you like artichokes.

Maggie May said...

That is a very impressive change.
Think of all the goodness you will be eating from your own produce.

The Good Life was one of my favourites on TV. It was a really good series and I think will never be forgotten.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

cheshire wife said...

Jennyta - your good authority is right!

Jenny Woolf - keep trying and I am sure you will suceed.

mrsnesbitt - winter is definitely on its' way.

fly - I am sure that you are growing something more exotic than we are.

Suburbia - thank you.

rosaria - thank you for the tip.

Maggie May - the Good Life was a classic. It will not be forgotten.

LindyLouMac said...

There is certainly nothing like growing and harvesting your own crops. We are off to visit our daughter this weekend so I will not be blogging again until November. Have a good Autumn in the garden.

Rob-bear said...

Wonderfully done, CW!
You could have your own tv show: "The Self-sufficient Chemist with Husband."
Or maybe not.
But so very well done, indeed. I'd be envious, but there is much garden space when one lives in an apartment.

cheshire wife said...

LLM - enjoy your visit to your daughter.

Rob - it ought to be good. Enough time and money went into it.

Trubes said...

That is a very good yield for your first attempt in Cheshire, We tried to grow tomatoes here in Liverpool but the crop was abyssmal. don't know what went wrong, we grew them in the greenhouse in growbags, as we did the year before and that time they wer really good..hey ho, will try again!

Hope all is well with all in Cheshire....Sunny greetings (at last), from Liverpool..

Di..xx said...

Well done on all the lovely veg - very inspiring!

Gilly said...

I am full of admiration! All that from the shed space, and in raised beds! Things are so much nicer when you've grown them yourself, aren't they.

You must have good soil down your part of Cheshire!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

How fortunate you have found a hobby you both can share. Most beautiful and I am impressed with your yield. The tomato plant? I'm jealous. Seems you have a good climate for cooler weather plants.

And you have potatoes for months!

Akelamalu said...

I'm really impressed!

cheshire wife said...

Trubes - I think that growing tomatoes is a bit of a lottery and rather dependant on the right mix of sun,warmth and water.

deb - there is nothing like fresh vegetables.

Gilly - top soil was bought to fill the raised beds. I don't know where it came from.

Midlife Jobhunter - I think we have potatoes until Christmas.

Akelamalu - thank you. We are pleased too.

Gill - That British Woman said...

you certainly had a good crop of veggies. I loved the series "The Good Life," all great actors.

Gill in Canada

cheshire wife said...

Gill - they do not write comedy like that these days.

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