Today I planted some mesclun – “cut-and-come-again”. I’ve always preferred it to whole lettuces, firstly because you have a nice mixture, secondly because you only have to pick as much as you need and thirdly, of course, because it keeps on growing.
This year we are going to really make an effort to grow more food. Last year was a wash-out, as circumstances meant we were away for various long periods and the vegetable patch became a jungle of weeks – nettles, thistles, that awful crab grass stuff, chickweed, buttercups and dock leaves.
Not being a fully committed gardener, because my other interests take up much of my time and I can’t devote that much to the garden, I get very disheartened. Each year I carefully weed our raised beds, digging up every root and sifting the soil to make sure there’s nothing left. After carefully planting seeds or plantlets, watering them lovingly, it seems that overnight the weeds are rampant once again and all kinds of unwelcome insects are chewing through the seedlings or laying eggs on them. We put down copper strips that were meant to repel slugs and snails, and watched them drawn as if by a magnet and actually glide backwards and forwards over them. The only things that seem to flourish are rhubarb, parsley and chives. Everything else topples over, withers up or vanishes.
I know that you can deal with the slug problem quite effectively with sunken bowls of beer, and that if you hoe regularly you can kill off most weeds before they gain control. But what is the organic answer to dealing with other pests, weeds and diseases? I don’t want to use chemicals of any kind. I want one of those gardens like our French neighbours have, where all the plants are of uniform height and laden with healthy goodness. How do they do it, apart from the hoe? Any advice, please?
This is where I’ve planted the mesclun as an experiment to see how well these miniature greenhouses work. Right on the windowsill of the office, where I can keep my eagle eye on any attempted invasion from unwelcome visitors.