Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Kitchen Gardens and Garden Kitchens

Sometimes the decision to nurture a particular plant can cause all kinds of problems at home. Take cucumbers, for example. Harmless enough, you may think, but you try growing some on your windowsill and see what it does for marital harmony.

The non-windowsill version
I, sadly, fell into the window-cucumber trap when I was given a few plants by a commercial grower one winter. Not wishing to heat my greenhouse, I lovingly arranged my cucumber collection along our kitchen windowsill. As the weeks went by and the window vanished behind a forest of lush foliage, I reassured myself that a bumper out-of-season crop of cucumbers would more than compensate for the complete lack of natural light in our home. It didn't - and I was obliged to promise never to grow greenhouse crops on our windowsills ever again; a pledge which placed me rather uncomfortably on the horns of a dilemma.


You see, I adore growing and eating yellow peppers, which is all very well if you have somewhere warm to plant them; but I don't since we moved to Norfolk. Nonetheless, I sowed a few seeds on the off-chance that they might not germinate; but they did. At this point, I considered applying to The Council for permission to erect a greenhouse (our home is hundreds of years old and we are listed, so we need consent); but when this is the state of the roof you are hoping to put over your family's head, greenhouses are not a top priority.

So I quietly moved my handsome pepper plants to a cottage in the garden which cannot be let for holidays this year as we are converting the threshing barn. Incredibly, despite an appalling summer, this happened! 

Suddenly I was blessed with a happy family barbecuing glorious yellow peppers in the garden. Lo and behold, my beloved garden had become a kitchen! So why shouldn't the kitchen be my garden? Indeed, my family even enjoyed the luxury of sitting at a table to eat in my precious garden! Therefore surely, in the spirit of fairness, a few bulbs decorating the dining room table shouldn't be a problem.


Perhaps I need to speak to The Council about a greenhouse.... and a potting shed.... and, if these don't get into the soil very soon, a doghouse wouldn't go amiss.


48 comments:

  1. Oh dear, I think your other half has a point, that's a serious amount of bulbs. I'm sure he'll be pleased to know that it's planting time.

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  2. So long as it doesn't snow, they'll be in for Christmas.

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  3. Some glass in that roof construction would do the trick a roof level greenhouse. Trouble is I don't think the council would buy that one!

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    1. That would be brilliant! It faces south too! Perhaps I should offer The Council some cucumbers.

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  4. A little hassle isn't it, to have to speak to the council/get permission to erect a small greenhouse for growing vegetables. But I hope (and I'm sure) you'll get it so you can grow those nice cucumbers, and more nice peppers. Great harvest btw, and those bulbs would look great come spring when they start sprouting and flowering a bit later on :)

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    1. Let's just hope they're not still on the table when they sprout and flower!

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  5. Well done with the peppers, before I had a greenhouse I used to grow all manner of stuff on windowsills - you just can't keep a good gardener down.

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    1. Thank you, Elaine. I have just been considering the benefits a car garden.... in the absence of a greenhouse next year, it may be the sensible option.

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  6. Beautiful peppers. We have a couple of greenhouses at the farm, but I never use them for growing vegetables. I like caring for my veggies and if in the greenhouse, the workers do it. I can't seem to keep their hands off what I put in there, so I gave up. But if I had the space at home, I would surly have a greenhouse. I see your priorities though.

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    1. Thank you - if I had a greenhouse, I would grow loads of them!

      Frustrating as it is for you, at least the workers' inability to leave your greenhouse veg alone illustrates the irresistible lure of homegrown produce.

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  7. Love your greenhouse! I've had one on my wish list for years. I know what you mean about some plants, such as the cucumbers, being unruly indoors. I just hung a small stag-horn fern in in front of the window the bathroom, and am wondering what it will turn into in a few years. I've read they get huge! I may have to replace it with an orchid if it gets out of hand. Your peppers look fabulous (like they should be in a magazine, etc.)! I'm sure they were delicious.

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    1. Hi Beth - that fern should love the humidity in your bathroom - get ready to lose the natural light ;-)

      Thank you for being so kind about my peppers - if I had thought they could have been glossy mag models, I would never have let them be barbecued! Still there is always next year (if I can find somewhere to grow them).

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  8. (that's a frighteningly uncountable number of bulbs. Hope your soil digs easily, just use a dibber to make a hole and drop them in??)

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    1. I am ashamed to confess that my preferred bulb-planting tool is the 4th post from the children's Rounders set. It makes an excellent dibber to a variety of depths, although it does make me unpopular with the kids.

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  9. I love your logic... perhaps you can persuade the family to help plant the bulbs if they want their table back!

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    1. That's a great idea, although I can be a fusspot about where each bulb goes.... they DEFINITELY wouldn't be speaking to me by the end of a bulb-planting session!

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  10. I sympathise - I couldn't get to my washing machine last year as the utility room was being used as a greenhouse. I was enjoying the leafy bounty (and lack of ironing!) but my husband threatened war! I'm impressed with the pepper :-)

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    1. That is a BRILLIANT idea - I am the only one who goes near the washing... no one would notice... not until the Great Knicker Crisis of of 2013!

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  11. That will be a wonderful show of color come spring.

    Jen

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    1. It will, Jen, so long as the squirrels keep their thieving paws off them!

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  12. Now! that's what peppers should look like, ours this year were so misshapen it was hard to tell what they were. A few bulbs!!! OMG time you got them planted.

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    1. Misshapen peppers? I think I might pass those off as a new form of celeriac ;-)

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  13. Came along your blog and saw those beautiful yellow peppers. They look like the ones professional pepper growers in the glasshouses in our surroundings grow. And the bulbs ......so many, are they already off the table? I'm your new follower.

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  14. Wow Janneke - thank you - and welcome!

    I have just finished planting the bulbs... just in time for our guests this evening!

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  15. I swear, you Brits even think about growing something and you end up with abundance. Take advantage of your gifts and grow, share, eat, and enjoy. - http://mary-goingnative.blogspot.com/

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    1. I wish! You should see the tragic state of my runner beans this year! Still... there's always next year...




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  16. I love your journey of growing cucumbers in front of one of your indoor windows. I can only imagine how tasty cukes will be in the off season.

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    1. Hi aussiebybirth - welcome - and thank you for taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment.

      Those cucumbers tasted magnificent - the usual flavour was complemented by the sweet taste of success combined with a satisfying suggestion of financial saving. Unfortunately it left a rather surprisingly bitter aftertaste when I was forced to hide my peppers in the garden cottage.

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  17. Your yellow peppers are glorious! But those sacks of bulbs on the dining table! I read above that you got all the bulbs planted. Hooray for you! Nevertheless, you definitely need a green house or at least a potting shed!

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    1. Thank you! They were delicious and disappeared rather too quickly. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about a greenhouse. I have just remembered that I used to grow early strawberries and they were such an indulgence, but there is no way I will achieve an early crop without glass. Time to speak to The Council.

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  18. Great story. I'd love to see your garden in Spring when all those bulbs come up! Beautiful peppers, hope mine are as persfect.

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    1. Hi Liz! Welcome - and thank you for your lovely comment! I will post photos of the garden in spring. I hope the bulbs are still all in the soil by then, as we are at the mercy of squirrels, a digging dog and pair of over-exuberant chickens!

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  19. That is a very impressive quantity of bulbs. Not quite sure why they had to go on the dining room table but hey whatever works. Can't wait to see the display next spring.

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    1. It's a tradition dating back many years. I can control the light and temperature in a dining room (so long as no one wants to eat in there) and this keeps the bulbs happy and the table makes it easy for me to arrange the bulbs in the order they need to be planted.

      I can't wait for spring either!

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  20. Wow, so many new bulbs! It’s exciting just to imagine the time of harvest like your fantastic peppers. Surely the bulbs need the place to be rested. Hope your wish be granted by the Council.

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  21. Thank you! Me too! The only upside of not having a greenhouse is that there is no cleaning out to do. Having said that, I miss the smell of a newly-cleaned greenhouse.
    I must send an application to The Council very soon.

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  22. I have just discovered your blog and I'm really enjoying reading through it. I love the pic of the bulbs on the dining table.

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  23. I laughed when I read about complaints from spouses and saw all those bulbs - my husband just told me off tonight for all my gardening kit left around and eyebrows were raised at the amount of bulbs I bought this year. Looking forward to the display. You definitely need a greenhouse, why let the roof hold you back?

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  24. Hi Claire - and welcome! His eyebrows WILL be raised when he sees those beautiful bulbs in full bloom. In the meantime, as undergardener, surely it is his duty to tidy up all those random plant pots and dibbers?

    If it's any consolation, until a couple of weeks ago, I was keeping a garden fork in the downstairs bedroom so I could pop outside for a quick garden whenever I had a spare 5 minutes. A practical, yet strangely unpopular storage solution.

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  25. hi GS, this is a funny post, I think it's perfectly reasonable to blur the boundary between home and garden, but it seems your undergardener does not feel quite the same. And why must the children have so many posts for rounders anyway?! But seriously, your peppers are amazing, and I look forward to seeing the bulbs in bloom.

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    1. Thank you Catmint. I agree with you about the rounders posts... if children want adults to play rounders, they must learn that fewer posts make the match more age-appropriate for us. In any case, I always felt a triangular rounders pitch would be more interesting.

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  26. Hilarious! And yes, I think a planning application may be necessary for marital harmony. Either that, or you just never rent that cottage, just grow peppers in it and store bulbs... I'm not sure my other half has quite appreciated the extent to which I intend to take over large portions of the conservatory next year to grow peppers, I shall have to convince him that I will be able to cook lots of lovely chinese food, which he loves, and not spend so much money on veg from the supermarket... Happy bulb planting!

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  27. Thank you Janet! I can only imagine the comments were I to suggest keeping a lovely little cottage for my peppers and bulbs! Good luck with your conservatory invasion... I look forward to hearing about your successes next year!

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  28. Your story made me smile, looking forward to visiting again, ESP springtime

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    1. Thank you - and welcome! The bulbs are already showing through the soil... spring is on its way.

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  29. Wow, that's alot of peppers. I'm kinda jealous cos I've never managed to get a Pepper plant to grow more than 6" never mind produce fruit.
    Turn the cottage into a greenhouse I say. lol

    Linda
    http://thetenaciousgardener.blogspot.co.uk/

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  30. Welcome Linda! If I try that one, I might end up living in the cottage with my peppers... actually, that isn't a bad idea - my peppers demand very little of me and NEVER ask to share my chocolate.

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