The humble nasturium – my flower of the year

If there’s one flower that’s ticked all the boxes for me this year, it’s the humble nasturtium. I planted in small plugs at the beginning of the summer, simply in the hope that they would lure the little beasties away from my other fruits and veggies. And boy, did the nasturtiums do their job! With the help of some marigolds, all of our potager crops remained gloriously pest-free.

Nasturtium summer kitchen garden

So a few months on from planting in my nasturtiums, here I am on a sunny November Friday, waxing lyrical about my nasturtiums that are still blooming away like little pockets of sunshine on my plot. In fact, they’ve gone a little overboard and swamped (what was) the pea and bean support, and continue to boldly go where no nasturtium has gone before…

So why are nasturtiums my flower of the year? For several reasons really; they’ve not only proven to be a really effective companion plant,but have also proven to be a great edible addition to our little harvests this year too.

Yellow nasturtium flower

Then there’s the fact that they are a seriously fuss-free plant to grow. I barely watered and didn’t feed my nasturtiums this year, and yet they have thrived throughout the summer highs of 30C+, and our autumn lows of below 6C at night. They’ve nonchalantly withheld of the forces of several storms with high winds, and don’t seem at all bothered when I rip out a few of their trailing tentacles or somewhat savagely mowed over the overspill from the veg patches.

These plants are tough. But they’re so, so pretty too.

With the amount of seeds that the plants have dropped into the soil over the last few weeks, I’m sure this isn’t the last I’ve seen of my fiery beauties.

Here’s to another season growing these truly remarkable, yet humble flowers.

Orange nasturtium flower

A new season

I’m sitting here with a duvet, sporting a snuggly jumper and chowing down on a beanburger sandwich for lunch. Evie is snuggled down under a blanket softly snoring away, and the cats are curled up snoozing. Rich is at the other end of the house, quietly nursing a cold and keeping himself to himself. Outside it’s cloudy and there’s a chill with each bluster of wind that passes by. Autumn is definitely on her way.

It’s hard to think that a week and a half ago, we were rosy-cheeked (or in my my case, puce and slightly sweaty), enjoying a BBQ under the hot, hot summer sun. But since the bank holiday weekend, it’s all gone quiet. I don’t mind, after about ten birthday bashes this summer and two weekends of socialising and entertainment, we’re ready for some down time. Time to climb back in my headspace.

Garden rustic basket

I’ve started thinking about how the next season will unfold in my little potager. For now, I’ve been steadily picking raspberries from the bushes and pulling up a few carrots here and there to supplement dinners. E loves them all; at one year old she’s well into her fruit and veggies, and the more homegrown harvests I can produce, the better. When it’s not raining, she likes to sit in her swing and eat raspberries that have been plucked straight from the bush, giving them her full approval – “mmmmmmm!”. This is what it’s all about for me; feeding my little family when I can.

I planted in some potatoes about three weeks ago, and they’re doing nicely, especially since all the recent rain has meant I haven’t had to think about watering. We’ll have to wait until Christmas to enjoy the Picasso potatoes, but maybe our Christmas dinner roast potatoes will be a bit more special this year.

But soon everything will be harvested and eaten, and I’ll need to think ahead.

Here’s the plan:

orange tulips

A new cut flower patch
For spring 2018 I’d like to have a spring cut flower patch at home, for bulbs and foliage. Pinterest is my friend when it comes to inspiration, and I’ve got a spreadsheet on the go for my spring bulb order (better start saving now). I’m hoping to experiment with selling a few bunches of flowers from the garden gate, but we’ll have to see how it goes. I may also need to acquire some lawn space for a new bed…

Winter veg
Once the carrots are done I’ll clear out some of my marigolds too (they’ve been amazing as companion plants this year) and make space for some wintertime veg. More leeks, green onions and perhaps some spring cabbages.

Clear a space for the shed!
This month I need to finish clearing a large swathe of the nettle patch to make way for my new little tool shed.

As ever, I’m trying to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible (not so sure the new flower bed aligns with this, but hey ho, something to look forward to). Finding time with a one-year-old in tow is always going to be a challenge, especially now the nights are drawing in, but I’ve got to keep myself motivated and just tick off jobs on the list as and when I can. Can’t ask for more than that. And it means I’ve always got a little “me time” to look forward to in the garden… at some point!

Post-Bank Holiday Blues

A sunny Sunday

August Bank Holidays in August are supposed to be damp and full of broken promises. But for E’s first birthday – which fell on the bank holiday weekend – it was hot, the skies were dry, and at times, even fine. We couldn’t have asked for much better, really.

We celebrated her birthday just with family; Rich sweated over the BBQ and I ran backwards and forwards with trays of food and drinks. E played happily with her aunties, uncles and grandparents, unawares that it was her special day of course, but thoroughly enjoying herself. It was the first time we’ve really shared our garden with family for a celebration, and although the garden isn’t picture perfect, it was good to invite people round and say “come and celebrate with us.” I finally feel confident enough to open the garden gate to other people, as we’ve worked hard to do many of the clear-up jobs that had been on the To Do list for years. It’s starting to feel like the garden I knew it could always be. My little slice of the good life.

For a week before E’s birthday, we used every available spare hour to rid the garden of years of accumulated guff – neat(ish) piles of wood, old broken chairs and benches, frost-damaged pots and seed trays, broken bricks and paving, old runs and fence panels – as well as tackling some of the denser, weedier patches of scrub and cutting the hedges back down to an acceptable height. It was tough to get it all done, but so worth it. I now feel we have so much more workable space, which allows me to concentrate on planting schemes this coming Autumn and Spring.

But after the bank holiday celebrations, and the initial satisfaction of a job well done, I’m starting to feel a little blue. It’s this feeling of only just getting by; treading water, getting from one day to the next without any solid progress that’s returned. It’s a bit ridiculous as we have made SO much progress in the garden, and the house too (after about 10 years, I finally have a full kitchen floor down, a kitchen table back in its rightful place, and four matching kitchen chairs). The house feels a little less like a renovation site and a little more like the home it once was. I think these blues are stemming from general feelings of insecurity and not feeling in control of my finances. The “treading water” is financial too; I don’t think I’ll ever feel free and settled until I have it sorted. And that is going to take a heck of a lot of hard work too.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s up to me. We’ve already proven that if we set our minds to a task, we can achieve good things. It’ll never be easy, but I need to stop sinking and start believing my goals are actually achievable.