Growing ambitions: hungry snails and fruit plants are teaching me a lot about patience when gardening

I moved into my new flat almost one month ago, and I’ve spent a lot of time tackling my newfound outside space.

Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 12:04 pm
Somehow, I still don't have enough plants! SUS-200721-115632001
Somehow, I still don't have enough plants! SUS-200721-115632001

At the start of the month, I’d swept up a lot of debris, done an initial de-weeding of the back garden and unwrapped some old, broken fairy lights from around the tree.

I’ve finally pulled up the weeds in the front, and removed the bike that the weeds had grown around.

Luckily, my neighbour wanted the plant pots that I didn’t want, and was able to lift them over the wall because they were too heavy for me to lift, especially as they were full of soil.

Having a garden to spend time in has been so helpful, especially while working from home. SUS-200721-115654001

Anyone who watched my Facebook Live on The Mid Sussex Times’ Facebook page last week will have seen that I rescued some clearance flowers from Asda.

I was told they were dahlias, but when they bloomed they were decidedly not dahlias, and despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to revive them, so all but the actual dahlia have been banished from the front garden and now I’ve got a completely clean slate to work with.

I spent an hour-and-a-half one evening refilling my watering can and scrubbing to clean the steps and path at the front of my flat, in lieu of having a pressure washer to use, and it’s looking a lot cleaner than it did before.

My plant pot situation needs to improve before I can do anything else with the front garden - I have so many nursery pots, but only a handful of large pots – so once I’d finished cleaning it up, I moved to the back garden.

The steps and path are so much cleaner now! But there's still a lot of work to do in the front. SUS-200721-115611001

I have a veritable jungle on the raised ledge, with a Sarah Raven plant stand full of cuttings and growing seedlings, some plants from my mum like a yucca and a banana leaf plant, and some tomatoes, lettuce and courgettes that I was given in a community group.

I quickly learned the hard way that vegetables should be kept as far away from snails as possible, because I went outside one morning to a totally decimated tomato plant so the courgette and lettuce are now on the top shelf of my plant stand and, hopefully, safe.

I don’t feel too sad about it though, because as my mum reminded me, your garden should be full of plants to benefit the ecosystem and animals, like the lavender I have for bees, so I’m glad that the snail got to gorge himself on my tiny tomato plant.

He’s not getting my lettuce plant if I can help it though, but maybe the occasional leaf.

We cut back secondary branches on the tree, and stacked up the loose bricks from around the wall. SUS-200721-115551001

I’ve had more luck with my fruit though - my rhubarb is continuing to grow as quickly as it always does in the summer, my orange tree is looking promising and my new strawberry plant has two strawberries growing, although it will still be a while before I’m making any meals made entirely from my garden.

While I wait to hear back about being able to rebuild the wall around the tree, my mum and I removed the burned, stacked up wood and rubbish from the base of the tree, and stacked up the loose bricks in the dead space next to it.

We also cut back some secondary branches on the tree, which made the garden slightly less shady, and got permission from my next-door neighbour to cut back the tree that’s on his side but inaccessible to him so that it doesn’t grow so big as to be a potential problem to the foundations of the house.

I wrapped some solar powered fairy lights around my garden, which come on automatically every night and make it feel very cosy, and my ginger cat windchime has been living in the euphorbia.

There was already a windchime here, but I needed my ginger cat, George, in the garden in some way. SUS-200721-115527001

I’ve been sweeping under the euphorbia daily, because every night it seems to shed a couple of dozen leaves, and I’m realising that while my house plants grow at quite a steady speed, anything outside in the sunny patch of my garden is growing quicker than I can buy new bags of compost.

The next plan is to buy some big pots – I bought some in Haskins that look like they’d be heavy but they’re not, and I want to have a mixture of those and terracotta pots – as well as borrowing my mum’s saw to cut back the tree next door.

Have you been doing any gardening projects, or do you have any ideas for what I could do next with my garden? Join our gardening group, Sussex Gardens, and let me know.