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Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:41 pm
by KG Steve
Hi everyone

This has been a really challenging year for everyone and gardeners are no exception. Garden centre closures, shortages and delivery challenges involving many gardening essentials have forced us to adapt and become more resourceful. In the kitchen too we’ve all been looking for ways to make the harvests go further and to ensure nothing is wasted, so reducing the need to venture out.

The KG team would love to know how the lockdown has forced you to adapt how and what you grow and if it has made you think more carefully about what you throw away in the garden and kitchen. Maybe you’ve hit on ideas that you’ll continue to use for years to come? We will gather together all your top tips put them together for a feature in a forthcoming issue and share them with other readers.

To get the ball rolling, for me I suppose it has made me appreciate seeds much more and I've decided to save more where I can - which is really just going back to what my father and grandfather did! Still working on my own formula for potting compost. I used to make it years ago, but it was peat-based then. That doesn't seem to fit with modern thinking now. Any top tips on those topics - and any others - very gratefully received and in the meantime, wishing you a good gardening weekend ahead with some rain...but not too much.


Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:21 pm
by Clive.
My plan for the year to dig and keep clean but not plant up my vegetable garden, other than a couple of rows of broad beans all due to work and other commitments, changed, almost overnight, to see it now fully planted almost to how my mother and father would have had it...with suddenly time on hands due to furlough... In that respect it has become a marvelous focus everyday...too many times everyday in terms of checking for growth and progress early on...nothing was seeming to move forward in growth when you check it so many times a day.!

The greenhouse that my father constructed in the late 1960s was becoming rather tired and had been out of use for a couple of years but with glass that could be re fitted back in place and vegimesh, held by screws and large washers where I hadn't got replacement glass, it was back in service and planted up, likewise with the cold frames.

I had no compost in stock..but the material that is produced via the regular compost heap is good stuff that once 1/2" riddled and some feriliser added (I only had a bag of growmore in stock) is serving me well for the large tomato rings in the be fair this compost mix has been used previously as half and half with bought compost.

The tomato seed was courtesy of KG magazine enclosures, Red Cherry and Alicante.. :) Sweetcorn, Carrots, Marrow, Butternut Squash, Spring onion and Chard are ex KG too whilst others have come from my embarrassingly large stock of seed packet remnants. The "spring onion" shimonita in its sealed packet was 10 years old...and came up well and is now being enjoyed :)

Own saved seed was and is the normal here for peas, broad beans and runner beans. An addition to the bean repertoire though is courtesy of our new next door neighbour dropping some of his stock of Cobra seed over the fence for me to try. I wrote earlier of the change of both leaning on the garden fence talking kitchen gardening to him leaning on the fence and me stood back in the centre of the garden, leaning on my hoe handle....

I was lucky that within days of the lockdown starting, realising things looked likely become challenging, I had quickly popped out to the local nursery and bought some Foremost and Duke of York potatoes and a bag of red re-visiting my gardening plan for the year...

Fruits of my labour are now coming good and we are eating well :) I did make good use this year of the Good King Henry, "Mercury" as we know it here in Lincolnshire, which I had neglected for a few years...and I was pleased to have stocks in the freezer of peas and broad beans from last year which are now being restocked, shelling and freezing Early Onward peas this morning, broad beans next. Good sense suggests to keep such stock levels buoyant, which was again once fully the normal here.

Not really a top tip...just a story .. of rapid re invention..

.....but I had neglected the home garden and had assumed the shops would feed me...mighty pleased they did largely retain their supply whilst I managed to switch the garden here back on again. It becoming a huge help to retain daily focus, along now with some known source lunch and tea ... :)



Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:46 pm
by KG Steve
...and a great story too Clive and one I reckon many people will identify with. Thank so much for sharing it with us. Hoping some of the slowing down and making do that was forced upon us over the past few months will rub off, but fear modern life will take over again as soon as it can! Glad the free seeds were useful, too!


Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:33 pm
by tigerburnie
I'm retired, so the hours put in to the garden have only changed a little(no fishing done until this week), I always have a reasonable supply of seeds and had manure and compost in ready for the season to start. I did run out of Multi Purpose Compost, but a local GC delivered me some which was helpful. The main thing that changed for me was what I grew and where, I sowed early crops of peas and carrots inside the greenhouse in the border along with salad crops as soon as the virus began, so we are eating some earlier crops than I would usually, I will be doing more of this next year too. I will be building a bigger cold frame to grow more crops that are usually grown outside. I can't really use cloches due to being coastal and have a rather windy garden.


Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:19 pm
by vivienz
I had no seed compost but needed to sow plenty of seeds. I do, though, have a very active mole in the garden and the spoil in the molehills is wonderfully graded, finely dug tilth and with a bit of sand added into it (we're on clay), it made great potting compost. Thanks, moley!
Little and often has worked really well for me, too, as it massively reduced the need to go to the shops for fresh produce. In particular, getting salads going nice and early and harvesting them as leaves rather than waiting for the whole head or the usual cut-and-come-again method. It meant I got nice big leaves and didn't have to wait for the whole plant to re-grow. Also, not growing things I don't like. I love the free seeds from KG, but if I've learned one thing this growing season, it's that I really don't like turnips, so they won't get raised bed space again.


Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:23 pm
by retropants
I had to give up my allotment in 2018 due to my parents moving away, we shared it between us, I can't manage it on my own. Last year I only grew tomatoes and strawberries at home. This year, I had planned to dig up a hard standing at the bottom of the garden and get it into shape to grow veggies. As I couldn't get this done, my main focus has been to grow in containers, literally anything I can find that will suit the crops. I have an old dustbins with carrots, a tin bath full of garlic and various and sundry containers even sweet corn is growing happily in a plastic box with some calendula for company. I am going to take a look in the rubble sack growing second early (charlottes) potatoes in a week or two, trying to be patient! I have strawberries in buckets and cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets, they are cropping well. My friends delivered some wild strawberry plants yesterday, which will also go into an hanging basket, must find room on the poor old shed to hang it up! Compost and seeds have been difficult to get hold of, but we are getting there!


Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:56 pm
by Westi
Lockdown didn't help, but why did the weather, mice, rats, slimy things & birds have to side with the virus? Yep deliveries were later than expected, but turned out to be a blessing as the above were in overdrive as such limited interaction from us with the cars & stuff. I quite liked it - especially when I was officially & legally allowed down to the plot, when everyone without the blessing of a growing space were still trapped! I would kind of like to think those who faced the challenge of a pot on the window sill also understand it is not easy & when they get the opportunity to get a space will love & work it! Not a trend or fad, failures & successes have to be accepted, & deffo not easy! The folk who may save allotments have had a little taste & found it is pretty good feeling to have success & a challenge when you don't!


Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:43 am
by KG Steve
Wow thanks chaps for all your comments that have come in over the weekend. Lots of great stories and tips there, but feel free to keep sending them in. We will add as many as we can to our feature, probably in the October issue.

Hope you (and your veggies) are not being blown around too much this morning!


Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:07 pm
by Westi
Cheers Steve, but the wind had all the stakes on an angle & wee plants closest at risk of damage! Thankfully it rained so didn't have to water so had the time to sort it! Not likely to last though as soil was wet & now wetter & wind not abating so probably a repeat performance!