Growing My Own Veggies

This year I am determined to grow some vegetables.  I’ve always loved the idea of having a lush vegetable patch… but I’m definitely less keen on the hard toil that goes into actually creating one.  If I could wave a magic wand and a fully-grown vegetable patch appeared, then that would be ideal 😉  However, instead, I have to tend with the billions of creatures that are intent on munching their way through my carefully planted seedlings or the cats that poo on my freshly weeded soil 🙁  I guess it’s all part of the experience.

So here we go again this year…

First off, the tomato plants that my mum bought me are doing amazingly well.  We’ve planted them in pots so that the slugs and snails can’t get to them and they’re placed up on the garden table at night, just to make sure.


I was so excited to find some tomatoes growing on the plants last week!  At the weekend, we bought some organic tomato feed so hopefully they’ll ripen up nicely 🙂

I’ve also grown some tomatoes from seed.  They’re much, much smaller than the plants from mum but we’re hoping for a growth spurt.  This weekend, we planted most of them in organic gro-bags and placed them on the raised deck, hopefully out of reach of the slimy ones.

The pot of flat-leaf parsley that I grew from seed is doing well.

The courgette (zucchini) isn’t doing so well. It’s absolutely covered in black fly.  One of the flowers actually dropped off today 🙁  If I can’t find a gentle way of encouraging them to leave, then I might just have to let them have it.

I grew this amazing trough of rocket and lettuce from seed… then it all bolted before we actually got round to eating it!  I’ve thrown it all in the composter and will start again.

We’ve found a novel use for Lil’ L’s sand pit… we’re growing spinach and purple kale.  It had just rained heavily before I took the picture, so the plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves.  I’m sure they’ll perk up.  I’m also planning to sow more seeds to fill in the gaps.

The raised beds have been the biggest challenge.  A couple of years ago we planted a whole range of plants which were subsequently eaten in one night by an army of huge slugs.  The only survivors were the sweetcorns.  This year, we’re on a mission to grow SOMETHING that won’t be eaten.  We’ve planted sweetcorns again (should be a safe bet), then the tiny butternut squash plants that I grew from seed have been covered with plastic cloches.  We’ll see what happens.  I did have the squash plants up on the balcony at the front of the house… but the slugs and snails still managed to find them!!!  3 plants were munched in one night!  The battle continues…

The brambles on the raised bed are to deter all the neighbourhood cats from using the bed as a litter tray.  It looks a mess but if it deters the cats, slugs, snails and anything else that wants to munch the veggies then I don’t care!

The little apple tree in the back garden is doing really well and has got lots of apples growing on it.  I’m not sure whether we’re meant to thin them out or not.  The branches are so heavily laden that M has had to use canes to prop them up!

One of the two gooseberry bushes we bought from Homebase didn’t last long… all the green shoots were eaten within a couple of days.  The slime trail led to the culprit… a huge garden snail.  The sorry-looking gooseberry plant is the twig in the pot to the left of Buddha.

My biggest success story, to date, has to be the basil that I grew from seed.  I absolutely love basil and use it a lot in our evening meals and salads.  I’m also hoping to make my own pesto.  At the moment, I’ve got about 6 pots growing on the window ledge in the kitchen.  When I took the photo below, I accidentally left the plants outside for the night.  In the morning, three big holes had been munched in the leaves.  These plants are definitely staying indoors from now on!

Finally, here’s a photo of my wonderful composter that M built for me from scraps of wood he found in the garage.  It seemed crazy paying the council to take away the green waste then drive miles and miles to buy it back as compost.  I’m looking forward to making my own, free organic compost.  It also feels good to know that our waste and scraps are appreciated by the score of bugs, beetles, worms and other critters that live in the composter.  It’s teeming with life!  (I won’t mention the rat 😉 )

12 thoughts on “Growing My Own Veggies

  1. Hi Sharon. You could try growing marigolds in your veg patch to keep away the black fly. Snails love nettles so keeping the nettle patch may not be such a good idea. You could also try putting sharp gravel around the plants – snails and slugs don’t like the uneven surface.

    1. Thanks for the tips Judy! Earlier today, my neighbour told me that one year she planted a border of marigolds in her garden (her garden backs onto our orchard)… by the following morning half the marigolds had been eaten and by the next day the whole lot had gone! We’ve got some humungous slugs and snails round here! Thanks for the tip about the nettles. I’ll pull them out tomorrow. We’ve got gravel round the beds but maybe it’s not sharp enough as they happily slime over it! Someone mentioned egg shells work so I’ll look online and see if it’s possible to buy bags of them (no eggs in this house 😉 ) Take care & thanks once again for all your support xx

      1. Hiya, i tried the egg shell thing – saved loads of eggs, crushed them up – the blooming snails didn’t seem to care they just slimed their way over – may work if you have a lot of eggs but i mean a lot all piled up!!! I also have marigolds to deter the flys which is working. Some have got eaten though, which i don’t mind – if they are easy to get too the slugs and snails will hopefully eat them rather than your veggies so you could purposely grow loads of marigolds either around your valuable veggies or further away hopefully detering the blighters, cause once they filled up on marigolds they shouldn’t want your veggies. Anything is worth a try. As i have the raised beds and alot in pots i don’t think they can be bothered to slime that far!!

  2. I won’t bother wasting money on bags of eggs shells then! I think I’ll trial coffee grounds round the edge of the raised beds, which is meant to repel them, then grow some strong smelling herbs like mint and rosemary as a protective barrier. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll also grow some marigolds, but maybe in a plot away from the raised beds to entice them away from the veggie area. I’ve found a couple of websites that look useful (; I like the sound of ‘companion planting’ and growing herbs amongst the veggies. That would be a really attractive way of controlling pests. Let’s hope it really does work! Thanks for all your tips. Let’s keep sharing xx

  3. Hi Sharon,
    I really like your blog! Good stuff and an healthy life!
    We would really like to have a vegetable garden, but we live in a very small flat in Oxford..hopefully in the future! I am looking forward to more posts. Ciao

    1. Really glad you like the blog 🙂 Growing veggies is far more challenging than I anticipated but I’m still dreaming about having that lush veggie patch! Do you have any allotment sites where you live? Some of my friends have started to rent allotment plots (some share the cost and the work) and they’re loving it! They find a little big of digging and weeding is a great way of destressing after work. Sounds blissful to me! My garden is a big wilderness but I’m slowly working my way through it. It I manage to grow one butternut squash this year, I’ll be over the moon 🙂 xx

  4. Sharon, what are you talking about vegetable growing isn’t going well? Have you seen your pictures?! It looks so good! I’ve never seen courgettes with black fly but the flowers are meant to drop off. You can mix 3 parts water to 1 part fairy liquid and spray it at them, they hate it. I think your garden looks so good and things will only get better – apart from the winter blues where the veg patch is bare 🙁

    1. Thanks for your encouraging comments. I thought my plants looked pitiful, especially compared to those of fellow bloggers! Thanks also for letting for the tip about the courgette flowers. I didn’t realise they were meant to drop off! I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m enjoying it 😉 xx

  5. The gardens look beautiful, but I am very sorry that the snails and various other predators think so as well. Such a wonderful variety of things to try. In my garden we have planted everything we thought we would enjoy…just to see if it would grow.
    I love your use of the pool (nice job on giving the item a 2nd purpose) and grow bags (I’ve never seen those before).
    I suppose try try again and eventually you will come up with a combination that works for you.
    It would be very wonderful if you could get some nice items for your family to enjoy.
    Tell “M” I love his composting system it is just fabulous looking and appears to provide ample space for free compost material.

  6. M is very pleased to hear you like his composter! It was a project that he started…. and actually finished! That’s pretty rare round here 😉

  7. I hope your veggies do better this year! I can empathise with your basil obsession – I have three plants at home and I’ve started to look after one at work too (after all, what’s microwave tomato soup without fresh basil?!).

    1. Thanks Simon! Now I’m back from my holidays, I’m looking forward to starting a new crop of basil plants. They’ll definitely be kept indoors though to stop them getting munched and covered in green fly.
      I hope you basil plant survives in the work place. Bringing a plant into work is such a good idea for livening up microwaved soups 🙂

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