It’s October, finally I want to say. Looking back at my first year of gardening (finally made it through), two seasons have been very important to me. First of course Spring, when everything gets growing and second Autumn, when I can look back and take stock of what went wrong and what has been a success.
October is also the time when the annual plants start to fade away (I mainly grow edibles) and space is given back to the garden. Everything is easier to keep in order and I really see a garden instead of a chaos (this might be the “first year effect”).
After three seasons of trying to prepare the garden in Winter, trying to make things grow in Spring and moving around the plants invasion in Summer, I believe to have learned a lot more by doing it than when watching gardening shows on BBC. Experiencing a garden is much more of an adventure than hearing others talk about it. It can be overwhelming sometimes but harvesting your own veggies is the best reward and always a surprise.
One of the biggest disasters this year was probably the weather. Spring came way too late, and the growing season was very short due to it. Autumn arrived a month earlier than last year and we had a summer break with rain in August and September that lasted about six weeks. The micro climate on our terrace really saved a lot of tomatoes, I believe.
Another disappointment was our fig tree. I took it in last winter, which was definitely a bad decision. It started growing leaves and fruits in February and because of the lack of sunlight indoors, I took it out again in April. As a result of the late Spring it went back to hibernation….When summer finally came in June it woke up again and started growing little figs for us. Right now they are still little figs…..
Last but not least The Invasion of the Tomatoes, but this is another story.
On the bright side of life I finally understood my lemon tree. After my lime tree rebelled and shed all its leaves, I had to learn how to water the citrus plants properly. I didn’t want the lemon tree to give up on me as well and we are now on a watering regime of twice a week. I water it until the water runs out of the pot and the lemons are growing much better right now. Lemons need about a year to grow and to turn yellow, which is a pain but once your tree gets going it will have lemons all year round.
Another good practice I started this year was Bokashi composting. It works really well, doesn’t smell, is perfect for small gardens and made my David Austin rose grow two metres in height in 4 months time. The bad thing is that my garden is still the same size….
Watering my plants properly is still something I am working on. I do observe that most of my herbs grow better in the ground than in pots. For the next year I will need to collect more rain water, use the water from the shower before it gets warm and water my pot plants more intense.
In general I think I have learned a lot about my garden/terrace, how much space is available (too less) and how much space my plants need. Furthermore I realised that I am buying less plants and rather grow them from seed, which means I understand them much better (Coriander an red Basil never survives when store bought).
My favourite plants to grow in a small space are definitely the herbs. Whenever I want mint tea or need herbs for cooking I can just go outside and get some. Salads in the raised bed are probably the second on my best plants list and fruits trees are coming directly after them.
What do you think about small gardens? Do you go for “less is more”, smart use of space or do you enjoy the jungle feeling. What are your favourite plants to grow?