The best thing about gardening is experimentation, as I reassured myself while pouring Guinness all over my compost heap today. I had some left over after I made rarebit last week (I couldn’t drink the leftovers because I hate beer). It turned out very well – I imagine that if my little sisters Niamh and Cerys conform to the national stereotypes their respective names would suggest when they grow up, then rarebit with Guinness would be the perfect thing to feed them when they come over for their tea.
I have no idea what the Guinness is going to do to my compost heap, but said heap was very dry, so I can’t see that it will do much harm. The compost heap is actually two heaps, and in fact, it’s not two heaps at all, it’s just the potato bags left after I harvested the Arran Pilots last month, filled with all kinds of stuff. My plan for next month is to plant Carlingford tubers with a view to having them ready by Christmas. I have visions of proudly presenting my mother with enough potatoes to feed the entire extended family on Christmas day, although it’s important to be realistic here – the family are legion.
Some of the greenery on the balcony has been doing well! The cucumbers are growing at a slightly alarming rate – far past the little stick pyramid supports I constructed for them. I find that I’m increasingly relying on the railings to support them. The hessian sack that I intended to be a herb planter is also doing reasonably well, although it’s mostly mint with a bit of rocket that’s survived. I inherited the mint plant, bought from a local supermarket, from my good friend Alastair, and after a shaky start, it’s thrived. It’s really hard to grow anything from seed in the lower pockets of the sack, of course, because it’s so dark. My plan is to buy adult herb plants at some point and plant them too, just so the mint doesn’t have too much of a monopoly.
I’m going to have to repot the squash plants, I think, which might entail removing them from the hi-tech ‘string round the pot tied to the railings’ system I’ve got going. Space is occasionally an issue. I had to buy six snapdragon plants yesterday, for two reasons. Firstly, they were reduced from £7.99 to £1.99, which is clearly a bargain. Secondly, you can make snapdragon flowers ‘talk’ by pinching the sides. I live alone. I think that settles the matter.
Anyway, my colleagues reminded me that my balcony isn’t necessarily a tardis. It’s not technically a tardis, it’s true. Finding space is becoming an issue, especially since I went on a walk last Saturday and came back with a melon plant and some kind of bean plant (I bought them, I haven’t been terrorising anyone’s garden). There are ways and means of creating space, though, especially with the railings. I have a plan whereby I make plant holders out of wire – fairly cheap from Wilkos – and attach them to the railings, thus creating more ‘floorspace’ for the larger plants, like the raspberry canes and olive trees and whatever else I have.
Here’s the set-up at the moment. It’s organised chaos, I promise. It’s highly organised, actually, although I realised I’m a numpty who planted an aubergine seedling in with the tomato plants in the blue container (foreground, to the right – a prize if you can spot it!). This photo doesn’t even show the cucumbers or the compost heaps (which aren’t heaps). You can see the melon plant though – it’s the tall yellowish one to the left, in the foreground.
I’m quite enjoying composting overall – I can keep my inner German happy by dividing my rubbish into even more groups. I found a handy and simple guide to what you can compost on Pinterest. I’ve put everything on my compost heaps from eggshells to coffee grounds to the ashes of the free Sun newspaper I had delivered, which I was compelled to burn immediately.
No real news on the actual allotment yet. I’m starting to feel a bit silly for celebrating prematurely, although I was assured things would be ready to start a month ago. I know I’ll not be able to grow anything there this year – I just want to get to work and do some digging. The silver lining, though, is that I should hopefully be helping out with the local youth centre’s allotment soon enough, so I’ll be able to do at least some digging.