My First Crops And ‘Pricking Out’ Seedlings

My life has changed so much over the last year for one reason or another and at times I have found the changes very hard to come to terms with, especially having to give my four allotments up.  But my family mean the world to me and this is the way it has to be for the moment.

I have tried very hard not to think about my old allotment plots and make the best of what I do have, which is why I created my new kitchen garden:

(Below are my ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos):

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In the beginning I think Mr Thrift thought I was mad digging up the back garden, especially as it looked like such a small area.  However, I knew it was bigger than it looked because I had crawled under the bushes at the back of the garden to see where the boundary fence actually was.

The soil was awful too….a very heavy clay which I could easily have made a few ‘clay pots’ out of, but I forked in lots of council ‘green waste’ compost (£2 for a very large bag) and a few bags of organic manure, I can already see how much the soil has improved.

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I have started to put some flowers into my new plot to attract some beneficial insects to it.  It is beginning to look pretty in places now and I have already noticed some bees buzzing around.

The Forget-me-nots and Aubrietia that I brought back from my allotment

The Forget-me-nots and Aubrietia that I brought back from my allotment

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The weather here has been lovely over the last week or so and I have started to see some benefits to have a vegetable plot in my back garden.  I have found that I can pop out and pull up a few weeds when I want to, or just check my plants over when I have just a few minutes to spare and I can also go out very early in the morning or at dusk to finish off a few jobs…..I have even walked around it sometimes in my dressing gown and slippers (I hope my neighbours didn’t see me, as I do look a sight in the morning).

I have found it is also lovely to be able to go inside to warm up with a hot drink if it’s cold or to cool down in the middle of the day when it’s hot (like it has been this week).  And I mustn’t forget to say that it is really nice to go to the toilet when I want to as well.

I couldn’t do these things at my allotment.

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I am having to learn how to cram as much as possible in a small space and use every bit of space that is available in my garden and my greenhouse.

The photographs above show the cut and come again salad mix that I sowed at the beginning of March in old containers from the supermarket.  They have been growing in my greenhouse and this week we had some for tea.

We have also been eating a few of the chives that I brought back from my allotment in January and planted along my new path.

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It really is nice to nip out and pick something when I feel like it, rather than planning what I must pick each day and bringing back it home from my allotment.

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So even though I am still sad to have given my allotment plots up, I am seeing some lovely benefits for having a small kitchen garden at home.

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In My Kitchen Garden This week…..

This week my new compost bins were delivered.  I ordered two galvanised metal bins to replace the plastic ones I used before in my garden as compost bins.

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Unfortunately my neighbours recently had a rat set up home in their shed and this made me worry that the compost in my new kitchen garden (that is close to our house) would attract the rats too.

  For years at my allotment I had problems with rats in my black darlek compost bins (even though I never put anything into them that I shouldn’t have).  At one stage I purchased rodent proof bottoms for the darlek bins and the rats just bit a hole through them to get in!

The only way I managed to deter them from going into my darlek compost bins at the allotment was by taking the lids off all winter and making sure the contents were wet (as rats don’t like the wet and cold).  However at home, I didn’t want to attract the rats at all, which is why I have bought the metal bins, which hopefully they won’t be able to bite into.

I have already started to fill them and I can see I will need to buy more in the future:

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This week I have started to ‘harden off’ some of my plants, ready to plant out soon.  The cabbages, spring onions and peas are now sitting in my cold ‘mini’ greenhouse which I leave open in the day and shut at night:

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I have sown some seeds directly into my soil outside this week too….kohl rabi, turnip, radish and beetroot.  I always had problems sowing seeds directly in my heavy clay soil at my allotment as the germination rate was so low – so this is really a trial and i’m not sure what will happen.  I have covered the seeds with wire to protect them from the birds (I brought the wire back from my allotment in January):

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I have also planted my potatoes.  If you have been reading my blog for a long time you will know I usually plant three varieties at my allotment- Marfona (2nd early), piccasso (early main crop) and Desiree (a late main crop).  Obviously this year I don’t have the luxury of space and I can only plant a very small amount of seed potatoes, so I chose to grow twelve Desiree potatoes (as these are the least suseptable to slug and eel worm) and six Marfona seed potatoes, as I do love the taste of these new potatoes.

As usual I pulled a trench out of the soil with my draw hoe and then used a bulb planter to make the hole deeper:

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I also had four Marfona seed potatoes spare, so I put them in one of my old plastic compost bins:

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I covered the potatoes with compost and I will add more to the bin each time the foliage grows.

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I also planted some sweet peas this week.  I put some pea netting up for them to climb and I covered them with bottles to stop the slugs while they are establishing themselves:

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I also sowed some wildflower seeds around them – this is earlier than I normally sow these seeds, but the wall should bring the temperature in the area up a degree or two.

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One of the other things I did this week was to make up my hanging baskets.  I must confess, I did buy the small plants from our local nursery (as I have been so disorganised this year), but it is still alot cheaper than buying a ready made basket.

Hopefully  next year I will grow the plants myself from seed.

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As you can see, I use an empty compost bag turned inside out for my baskets.  I like to reuse things when I can and the trailing plants I have used will hopefully cover the bags anyway.

I have already started to harden the baskets and pots, by leaving them outside for a few hours each day.  Even when they are fully hardened off I will continue to bring them back inside my greenhouse if a low temperature or frost is forecast.

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I have also been ‘pricking out’ the seeds that have germinated this week.

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I now have cherry tomatoes (which will eventually go into a hanging basket), outdoor tomatoes which I will grow in pots, some basil to grow in my greenhouse and finally some more lettuce.  All of these will stay in my greenhouse until they are bigger and the risk of frost has past, except for the lettuce that will be hardened off a lot sooner than the others:

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I have also ‘potted on’ my greenhouse cucumbers into large pots….I can’t wait for these to produce fruit as we eat a lot of cucumbers in our house:

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So it’s been another busy week in the ‘Thrift’ garden.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.  I will be back as normal next Friday.

Have a good weekend!

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19 thoughts on “My First Crops And ‘Pricking Out’ Seedlings

  1. On the problem of rats & compost heaps: I suspect that you may find that the composting materials may reduce the bottom of your dustbins to rust in time, so I have an alternative suggestion.

    We had the same problem with rats, so I run a dual system, with two small “compost” collecting bins in the kitchen. Everything that might be attractive to rats (eg – remnants of cooked food, carrot tops, egg shells, banana skins etc) goes into a wormery. This produces a great liquid feed + loving potting compost. It takes a little bit of management – eg, it needs to be kept well limed, to keep the worms happy, but has been going successfully here for 11 years. Nothing acidic can be put into a wormery (eg – orange skins, onion skins).

    Everything we term “non-rattable” goes into the ordinary, open compost heap. This includes onion skins, cabbage leaves etc. The rats have left us in peace since running this system.

    Am very happy to give you a few details of my wormery experiences, if that would be helpful. And I very much enjoy your blog – it sets me up well for the weekend gardening jobs!

    • Hi Whittonside, that’s funny I was talking to my husband the other day about a wormery …. he said there is no way he is going near any worms lol, so it looks like i’ll be sorting it. I may ask for one for my birthday.

      By the way, thank you for reading my blog

      • If he supports recycling, he should embrace worms as the Master Recyclers! Hope you the get the wormery for your birthday :-).

  2. Our neighbours keep chickens and are not too careful storing their corn so we are always concerned about rats too. Some years ago our neighbour demolished one of his old sheds and during the night the rats moved under my husbands car bonnet (was probably nice and warm from his drive home from work) and nibbled the electric cables! The car was never the same again – it used to kangaroo hop unexpectedly and the fault could never be found.

    Your garden is looking really good, you must put in a lot of time each day on it. Thank you for your blog, I did enjoy reading it and you have inspired me to get cracking again this weekend.

    • Hi Sara. I don’t really spend as much time as I would like to in my garden….I so miss the time I used to spend at my old allotment plots, but at least I do have my back garden to grow veg in…so I suppose I’m lucky

  3. I have missed a bit! You have done so much!! It looks awesome!!! There are not enough exclamation points to cover my delight!!!
    Is your wee doggie afraid of rats? She is of the breeds most beneficial to rat alerting and the getting rid there of….?
    So the garden is at the foot of the garden, where have you tucked the green house and the compost bins? Are they n part shade and part sun? I have issued with my green house getting too hot in summer (we sometimes get excess of 40 degrees Celsius in summer..

    • Hi Mrs Yub, I hope you and your family are well. The compost bins are in the shady corner in the top left of the photo behind the pallet that I used to fence the area off (so you can’t see the bins from the house). The greenhouse is in the sun on the left hand side of the garden before you get to my veg patch.

      Judy is a jack russell and yes her breed are supposed to be ‘ratters’….but knowing my dog she would be scared of rats lol

      • My mother in law is visiting us at the second, so we are all very happy. My daughter has decided she likes sewing with the mahine, and ‘Granny’ has Ben showing her ho to use it 🙂
        My compost bins are under the gumtrees down the back, and my greenhouse is facing the midday to afternoon sun, but it is also under a big shrub, though this one doesn’t provide total shade for it, but a dappled light. I’d move the jolly thng but I fear it would fall apart lol,
        Oh! And I’ve discovered my Jerusalem artichokes are blissfully happy growing with my potatoes down th side of the house 😀

    • I hope I will and I am trying to get as much as possible from this small patch of land lol. I will miss my sweetcorn and cauliflowers though as I know I haven’t got enough room to grow them here (this is why my allotment plots were so good to have).

  4. You have discovered all the perks of a kitchen garden but have you noticed an increased number of birds visiting? I have several bird baths and early morning and early evening are especially active. Cooking is also benefited by last minute additions from the garden. But the best perk by far is being able to visit the garden in slippers and pajamas.
    About five slugs. .have you tried coffee grounds placed around the stems?

    • Yes I have tried coffee grounds and I’ve got to say that as with most things, they don’t work brilliantly. However, I know a gardener that picks off the slugs and snails and puts them in a place with lots for them to eat and she swears by it as she says that they don’t leave the place as it’s slug and snail heaven and they then leave her plants alone lol

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