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Gardening with Gael - The long and short of it



thumbnail Sue round carrot-814thumbnail Ellen long carrot copy-2When the lockdown looked imminent, I thought planting a vegetable garden would be immensely sensible, providing us with fresh greens and the nutrients that come with them. Off I set with the idea of buying some seedlings and getting a new garden underway. I’m usually really early at the market, however not early enough it seemed. Scouring the district I ended up with six cabbage seedlings, not quite what I envisaged.

I was not the only one and I was intrigued to read that one of our Councillors, Anna Curnow, experienced the same phenomena. Good for Anna though, she peered closely at her garden and discovered among the weeds that grew at the first sign of rain, fledgling vegetable plants. Parsley, lettuce and tomatoes had sprung up.

Inspired, out I went to check on mine. I hoped for fennel, dill and parsley among my weeds. I found broccoli (or broccolini) pumpkins, tomatoes and rocket. Box had seeds left over and managed to buy lettuces from Jacques. I transplanted them all into pots on the deck where they have flourished. Anna has so many tomato plants she is pulling them out. We think they may be a bit late anyway but I’m keeping mine.

Meanwhile my niece, Ellen, whose job has kept her very busy, managed to have time one weekend to tend her vegetable patch. The accompanying photo shows the carrot she found in her garden. Priceless. It is 86cm long. To start off she thought the bright orange might be a tube or pipe but it just kept coming!

On the other side of town, Sue had planted round carrots. When she saw the picture of Ellen’s carrot she sent one in of her own as a contrast. Sue was growing round carrots and this is an excellent example. I think they possibly qualify for the long and the short of it. Meanwhile Sue has grown prolific basil, lettuce, tomatoes and bok choy. She wanted me to mention that and not to be judged by the carrot!

It is hard to believe how little rain is needed for the garden to shake its dry leaves and wilting stalks and liven up. There has been enough now for everything to start flourishing again. Planting in the pots has refreshed my interest in companion planting and the knowledge of what is happening around the roots of the plants and in the neighbouring soil. My pots are not giving the seedlings this added benefit. Meanwhile, out in the old vegetable garden, once the rain began so did the comfrey. I thought it had completely died away but no, once again there it is, its potassium rich leaves ready for shredding around tomatoes, potatoes and other crops.

It is great in compost. Comfrey has a long taproot (much like Ellen’s carrot) which draws nutrients from the soil up into its leaves. I tear off the leaves and dig it straight into the garden.

Kings Seeds provided a great online service over the last four weeks. I was a bit slow to order basil seeds. There is nothing not to love about basil. The fat green leaves are great on pizzas, on tomatoes at all times, and the other day Annabel Langbein made quesadillas using just basil, tomato and cheese. Herbs generally were a big plus during the last four weeks, adding flavour and interest to all our homemade meals.

Does size really matter? Ellen had to dig deep for her ‘continuous’ carrot. In contrast Sue tried her hand at the round variety. Bugs bunny, take your pick!

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