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Saturday, 11 June 2011

First pickings from the potager

our first 'little gem' lettuce of the season - delicious with a home-made olive oil and balsam vinegar dressing

It's hard to believe that in six weeks we are eating our first salads of the year from the new potager hacked out of the wilderness that was our front garden (actually, it abuts the road but is at the side of the house). I described what I was doing in my post of 30th April, and since then am amazed at it's progress. It's surrounded by shrubs and it is those that shelter the plot from the easterly wind that's bedevils the rest of the garden.

four square-metre beds will clearly provide all the salads we need this year

You may have been following the creation of this potager on the blog I write for Dobies of Devon - I devised it to demonstrate just how much you can actually pack into four beds, each a metre square. And in fact, even with the short rows or blocks of veg and salads, I've sown far too much for just the two of us; we'd be eating salads for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper every day if we are to consume all the produce before it runs to seed! And sadly I no longer have my hens to eat unwanted greens, for they were all killed by the next-door neighbour's dog. I'll replace them but they will have to be totally enclosed, not wander freely around the orchard, for the wretched spaniel keeps escaping.

smaller pots of herbs surround the old iron boiler - and even the roses behind are edible (the petals will be used for   conserve)

I'm also trialling veg in pots and planters - potatoes, dwarf beans, runner beans, aubergines, peppers and squash. These are tucked into corners for a continental feast - they remind me of past visits to France and Italy, or will do once they come into production. And I have pumpkin in the greenhouse, awaiting a pot in which to plant it out; that and the squash are to be grown upwards on hazel sticks coppiced from the orchard, rather than be allowed to trail everywhere (there isn't room). The herb tub is flourishing - planted in the old washing boiler we dug out of an outhouse when we were re-building 40 years ago. Tall fennel plants are supported by a welded metal tripod my husband made for me; runner bean plants are already climbing the legs.