Hello Dear Reader,
I'm increasingly being contacted by companies who offer products for giveaways. These are hard time for businesses and the economy would come to a grinding halt and jobs would be lost if none of us bought anything at all. We all make our own decisions how we write our blogs and whether we engage with media or not. I make the personal decision whether I work with them and wouldn't do so if I didn't think there was a benefit for anyone else, or if I thought they didn't represent a bargain. I was offered seeds to give away by 'Sarah Raven's kitchen and garden' and I know many of you are gardeners and would benefit from a delivery of seeds and that there is nothing better than free for a bargain.
I also wanted some advice myself as I see gardening as over rated outdoor housework and need to get past the equation of effort and cost, versus payback. I've spent a lot of time and money on gardening in the past and due to uncontrollable weather, lack of light, living on the side of a dry south facing slope with no soil, had little to show for my efforts at the end of it. I also have huge water costs and in dry times have resorted to paid for water which has added to the expense of growing my own and remain unconvinced that my efforts were worth the piddly results I've had in the past. I know some of you touch soil and food springs forth as if Jesus himself had his wellies on and had dug it. For me, it's more plague than plentiful so I'll turn back to the advice I've been given and have another go. I have good success with spuds, beans and lettuce and I'll have another go this year. I agreed on the promotion and giveaway as long as I was given some personal advice on gardening and sent my own questions and here are the answers I was given.
Which vegetables are great for beginners?
Squashes, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, carrots, radish, spinach, chard.
Summers are getting wetter, any advice would you give to making sure a vegetable bed is well drained and which vegetables are 'bomb proof' no matter how bad the weather?
Brassicas, spinach, lettuce, asparagus all don’t mind the rain. If your soil is water logged or if it is really wet and remains so year round, you might want to think about building raised beds. These do not have to be the actual wood or brick framed beds that are popular, you can simply layer organic material, and make 6" mounds the length of your beds. You might also try mixing in more organic material with the soil you have, if it is tillable. By simply loosening it, adding organic matter (2-4") and turning it, you will raise the soil level in the beds. You will need to add organic matter yearly - what you add depends on the type of soil you have.
3. What can you tell readers about starting seeds off on the window sill?
Starting seeds off on a windowsill is a good idea but - a few warnings... Keep the container moist, but not soggy. You can cover it with plastic wrap or an old piece of rigid clear plastic if your seed tray doesn’t come with a lid, but be sure to pull it up to check daily to be sure they aren't drying out. Make sure to water as necessary with a very gentle spray of water. Beware of cold nights with a sharp temperature drop – move the containers to an appropriate place. Finally, make sure that you rotate your container so the light is even.
Could you suggest what we should being doing in our gardens at this time of year?
Outside, winter dig your veg beds, as hard frosts will break down large clods of soil. This is also a great time of year to start seed potatoes off. Remember to apply organic fertiliser when things start showing signs of growth in the garden. It’s also the perfect time of year to sow sweet pea seeds, one of the most delicious summer scents in any garden. Plant bare-root trees and shrubs – there’s lots to choose from! Check your containers and water if necessary.
Which veggies can be grown in pots on a patio or a tiny garden or just in an old sink on the steps?
Beetroot, Broad beans, Carrots, Chillies & Peppers Dwarf French beans, Herbs, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Runner beans, Salad leaves, spring onions, Tomatoes.
Which herbs could you recommend for us which are easy to grow that will help with our frugal cooking?
Rosemary, sage, coriander, chives, parsley, basil and mint are all easy to grow. Delicious in stuffed butternut squash (http://www.sarahraven.com/how-to/seasonal-recipes/stuffed-butternut-squash), cheese and fennel scones with sausage burgers (http://www.sarahraven.com/how-to/seasonal-recipes/sausage-burgers-cheese-and-fennel-sconeshttp://www.sarahraven.com/how-to/seasonal-recipes/sausage-burgers-cheese-and-fennel-scones), and tricolour pepper caponata (http://www.sarahraven.com/how-to/seasonal-recipes/tricolour-pepper-caponatahttp://www.sarahraven.com/how-to/seasonal-recipes/tricolour-pepper-caponata). Many other home-grown veggie recipes on our website. All Sarah’s articles, videos and gardening advice can be found at http://www.sarahraven.com/how-to.
So, Dear Reader, Wish me me well as I'm going to have another go this year and turn some of my garden into a veggie patch and grow a few herbs on my patio. I'm not going away this year so there will be no interruptions or need for a neighbour to water the garden and I'll be there all the time to tend it. I'm sure you'll enjoy the seeds if you win them and I hope you join in with the giveaway by leaving a comment and I'll pull the name out of something hattish on Monday night and post them out to you as soon as I can.
I know a lot of you are keen gardeners and really good at it and I'm sure some of you have had your struggles just as I have. Tell us all about your delights, triumphs or struggles with growing veggies. I hope, who ever wins these seeds, really enjoys them. This post will be linked to all my other posts over the weekend and up to and including Monday evening.
T&Cs - be a followers, if not become one, and leave a message to take part in the giveaway.
I'll be back tonight with my quilt in a day, the instructions and how to make a gift in no time at all.
Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxx