You may have seen our earlier post on growing vegetables in containers. This was our second year attempting to grow some of our five-a-day in pots or raised beds. We had the best weather for growing this summer but it was difficult to keep up with the constant watering. That is the difficulty with container grown veg. It all dries out very quickly and to make matters worse our three water butts ran empty three times over the summer.
On the plus side, the garden was teeming with wildlife. Some good, some not so good like these pesky caterpillars!
Solomon Seal Sawfly – How disgusting?!
And here are some photos of the good guys which are always welcome in our garden.
Our garden has been full of Hoverflies this year
Damselflies feed on flies and other small insects
Mr Toad lives in one of the grow bags containing our tomatoes
So, now to the fruits of our labour. We have had a fantastic crop of runner beans this year. They have been producing for months and are still showing no signs of stopping. Our freezer is full of them! They freeze really well, just prepare them and drop them into boiling water for one minute. Then transfer them to some icy cold water and cool before bagging them up into freezer bags. We grew these in some raised beds, about 4′ x 4′, I initially raised the seeds in pots and then transplanted them out in spring.
Our runner beans at the start of the summer
We grew Broad Beans for the first time this year, again in our raised bed and I was really happy with these. We planted them in the winter and they were ready to harvest in June. This was great as they were ready before the rest of the vegetables which all seem to be ready at once.
We grew our Courgettes in pots and also planted a couple in a spare piece of flower bed. All of the plants were successful. the pot-grown ones did have the advantage of being better protected from the slugs.
We had a bumper crop of garlic and will certainly be planting some more this autumn. This lot should see us through until then.
Our potatoes were a bit disappointing this year. We grow these in old water butts. We had one that was leaking so we cut it in half and now have two giant planters. They usually work well but this year they got blight and a lot of them were wasted. Next year we will try a different variety. The ones that were successful were still very tasty and the children love digging them up!
Other crops that worked well this year were salad leaves (the cut and come again variety), beetroot and carrots. We also had a really good crop of blackcurrants from just one plant that is grown in a pot. The children were picking these straight off the plant and eating them… yummy.
We will never be completely self-sufficient from our container-grown crops but we have certainly cut down on our food bill this year. For us though it’s about the satisfaction of growing your own food, knowing where it has come from and involving the whole family in growing it.