14 March 2024

the vegetable year

So this is how it begins. Outside. Inside, it's been busy for weeks with potatoe varieties sprouting on trays throughout the house, seedlings growing on the sunny windowsills and so on.

This is the vegetable plot, all innocent and virginal. It has been used in a four crop rotation cycle for over 20 years, one quarter each for potatoes, brassica, legumes and root vegetables in rotation. This year, the potatoes go in the top left section, half of the rectangular bed, where the compost has already been spread, with brassica in the top field to the right, legumes in the bottom field on the right and root vegetables in the bottom left.  The snaking tubes on the other sections are the pipelines of the drip feeding system and the metal sheets along the top edges are to keep the many slugs away or at least slow their progress. I like to think that the soil knows us well by now, especially the feel and smell of R's hands, who does almost all weeding and digging and planting and harvesting. In a few weeks time, this area will be full of growth, apart from the potatoes, there will be red cabbage, swiss chards and cavolo nero, cauliflowers and broccoli obviously, later in the year Brussel sprouts and winter sprouting broccoli, sugar snaps, spinach, runner beans and French beans, lettuce, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic and possibly a pumpkin or two.

The tomatoes and peppers and aubergines and melons and some cucumbers will grow in the greenhouse, one tomatoe variety will grow somewhere in the flower beds as we found it thrives there and the zucchini and many pumpkins will grow here and there and everywhere all over the place. I'm sure there will be more, some new experiments, but I'll leave all that to the gardener I am so lucky to have in my life.


This, meanwhile, is where my work is waiting for me. It is supposedly the herb bed but has been overrun by the grape hyacinths - as are many other beds throughout. It started with a narrow row of snowdrops and these fellows many years ago, but the snow drops were eaten by squirrels and the blue grape hyacinths take what they can get, like zombies. It's of course lovely to have all this blue colour but once they are finished, I will dig them all up - and I mean all - and transfer them to a nice scenic cluster in the front of the house. That's the plan anyway. In my mind, it'll eventually look like a flower show entry. 

This will be the first year without the almond trees along the west of the house. It'll mean less shade to the upstairs rooms there but both trees had a virus, fewer and fewer almonds and dropped their leaves by August. Also, the virus was putting the fruit trees at risk so it was them or the apricot and peach trees, of which this young one is giving me much hope. These stone fruit grow very well as trellis trees, a method that was established in 17th century France as the espalier method and we have visited impressive examples in castle grounds across Germany, France and Belgium and R has fallen in love with it.  We also have two espalier pear trees, but not yet in flower.


Ms. Moon said...

Our vegetable garden has been especially beautiful and bountiful this year so far. My husband has taken a special interest in it and it shows. Very few things are as rewarding as growing and harvesting and eating our own food.
I do love that espalier method of growing trees. Art and agriculture in one.

Colette said...

I'm just catching up with your last few posts. So good.

am said...

Had to look up cavolo nero and found that it is what we call Black Kale. Delicious! I'm not a gardener but am grateful to all the local farmers who bring fresh fruit and vegetables to our community food co-op grocery store. It is a joy to hear about the garden you and R eat so well from and to see photos.

ellen abbott said...

I have so little space that gets enough sun for vegetables because of all the trees but with our very hot summers, the trees are essential. the country estate we stayed at when I was in Portugal had all kinds of espaliered fruit trees. my little peach tree that has struggled to live since I planted it years ago when I apparently broke the main root has a lot of flowers on it so I'm hoping for a few fruits this year.