When we first moved into our new house, one of the things I was most excited about was the garden; it gets full sun almost all day, and more importantly, it has a WALL. I’m an absolute sucker for a walled garden – our last house just had this tired old fence, so to have something solid to grow my beans and tomatoes against has been amazing! It was completely overgrown when we moved in, so I spent a good three weeks back in the spring clearing the ground and digging in compost and soil improver; the kind folks at Earth Cycle sent me some of their Soil Conditioner, which is completely peat free (hurrah!) and improves both heavy and sandy soils by aerating and adding body. I’ve dug through compost before, and dabbled with horse manure, but never had what I’d call spectacular result – so to be honest, I was sceptical. But to say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement – read on for the results!
I always grow pretty much the same thing each year, partly because I know what I like, and partly because I know what the pollinators prefer – and God knows we need to help the bees and butterflies as much as we can! I bought a few perennials; Champagne Bubbles poppies, delphiniums, three types of lavender, and carnations, but not too many as I wasn’t sure what the conditions were going to be like, even after the soil improver. I bulked everything out with lots of annuals; scabious, marigolds, antirrhiniums, lobelia, alyssum, borage, geraniums and of course, a ton of sweetpeas in pots all over the patio.
Everything was going amazingly, and I was getting a huge amount of flowers – I’ve honestly never had such a productive flowerbed, and that’s even with the late start I had after spending so long digging. But then the heatwave started – and over a week or so, the sweetpeas just completely gave up. I was talking to one of our allotment growing neighbours though, and it seems sweetpeas just won’t stick around during extreme temperatures – so I don’t feel like they were too much of a fail on my part!
It’s mid-September now, and although the lobelia and alyssum have died away, everything else is still going strong; looking out of the window I can still see fresh buds poking through, and the bees are still hanging around, doing their thing. I’m actually wondering if this year, everything might last until the first frost!
Every year I get massively carried away when I’m buying seeds, and every year I end up with a tiny amount of lots of different things – so this year I decided I was only going to grow tomatoes and beans. Despite that, I still forgot to plant the tomato seeds, and the cat dug up the bean seedlings, so I ended up having to go and get some emergency plants from the garden centre!
I grow beans and tomatoes every year; I’ve had varying degrees of success with beans, but not really anything worth mentioning, and the tomatoes either flower and then refuse to fruit, or just don’t ripen. Now, it might be just a strange coincidence, but this year after digging the soil improver through, I’ve had a huge abundance of beans and more tomatoes than I know what to do with – they were ripening so quickly that they were splitting and falling off of the vines before I could get to them. (It might be worth mentioning now that I actually forgot to pinch out the side shoots, so the tomatoes are a bit small – but oh! They are SO tasty!) There are still flowers on both plants, and neither of them are showing any signs of slowing down with the produce yet – I’m starting to leave the bean pods on the plants now though, because I’m planning to save the seeds for next year. I’ve been reading a bit about permaculture lately, and I’m quite looking forward to maybe giving that a go in the spring – but whatever I plant, I’m absolutely getting some more Earth Cycle products!
DISCLAIMER: Earth Cycle kindly sent me a bag of their amazing soil improver to review free of charge – but as usual, all thoughts and words are my own, and I’ll be buying more next year!