My eight mistakes of 2011

1: Not digging deep enoughDepp Bed

We have thick clay ground here, determined to dig the bed by hand I took the turf of which we used to make walls and dug one spade deep and turned it over.
The result was that the roots of many plants could not go deep enough so the plants stayed small and produced not enough.
Solution: Deep bed digging

2: Planting out too soon

After such a great pre-spring my seedlings were growing like crazy on our veranda so at the beginning of May I enthusiastically planted them out. Then one morning I woke up to a white world of frozen grass. I ran outside, which is kind of pointless because there was nothing to be done about my dead seedlings but sigh and get the seed packages out and start all over again.
Solution: Do as your neighbours do (at least when it comes to gardening…)

3: Not protecting my plants against bugs

I read about those pesky caterpillars that eat your brassica seedlings umpteen times I went out and inspected my broccoli and brussels sprouts. After a while I got distracted and focused on other things going on in the garden and forgot to check for a few days. Result: a few broccoli plants completely covered in little caterpillars, even inside the green crown of the broccoli.
Solution: netting the plants

4: Sowing too much in one goCourgette

Enthusiastically I sowed five courgette plants at the same time which resulted in too many courgettes and for weeks we had courgettes coming out of our ears.
Solution: Sow a few seeds at a time with a few weeks between sowings

 5: Planting seedlings too close to each other

I have a tendency to do that. I did it last year and for some reason again this year. It is related to sowing too much in one go. I don’t want to waste any seedlings so put them in the ground too close to each other which produces small plants, like my brussels sprouts.
Solution: Don’t plant too many and too close to each other (duh!)

6: Not writing down which seeds are sown whereSummer garden

As well as vegetable seeds, I sowed flower seeds to attract beneficial insects.
It would have been a good idea to write down which flower seeds I had sown where because I couldn’t differentiate between weeds and flowers.
Solution: make a garden sketch or use labels

7: Not watering enough

This pre-spring we had a drought that lasted for weeks.  We didn’t have a rain barrel at that time so at one point my spinach almost started bolting right after I put the seedlings in.
Solution: collect as much rainwater as you can, it is free and there will be times when you will need to water your plant s

8: Adding too much green to the compost mix

I find composting one of the hardest things. I have read lots of books about it and know about the mixing greens and browns. Now, with our expanse of grassland I have lots of greens. So my compost heap became a stinking heap of black slime.
After searching on the net about what I did wrong, I read that it was because of too much wet grass which suffocates the heap.
Solution: Don’t be stubborn like me and put equal parts of greens and browns on the heap


First signs of winter

It was already a few weeks ago. I had cleaned out the garden, broke down the bean trellis and sowed green manure. The garden was almost ready for winter but I wasn’t yet. Although I love living with the seasons, the cold of the winter is not my favorite even if it is so very pretty in the early morning light.

First signs of winter

The little pond I had dug in August had a thin layer of ice on it.

Pond with ice

And this is only the beginning, later in the season there will be snow, lots of snow!


My Garden Successes of 2011


KaleMy biggest success is my Redbor F1 Kale. The purple color looks amazing in the garden. Because of the color the bugs more or less leave it alone and this time I was smart enough to plant a few plants so they could grow big and magnificent.
A few weeks ago after the first frost I made a typical Dutch winter dish with mashed potatoes.
The kale turned green while cooked and left the purple color in the mashed potatoes which gave it a unique perspective on the dish.Here is the recipe for this typical Dutch dish.


ChardThis year it was the first time for me to grow chard and what a great success it has been. The fantastic colors brightened up the garden and the growing season is amazingly long. Cut and come back again works really well with Chard.
I have used chard like I normally do spinach, or asian style stir fry it with garlic, chili peppers, ginger and soy sauce.
Another great recipe is Chard and new potato curry from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Early Potatoes

Potatoes CharlotteAlso this year for the first time:  Potatoes!. The bed I grew it in was not dug deep enough but the plants still gave me plenty of new potatoes until well in the summer. It was a real treasure hunt to dig for these pale golden wonders. The creamy young potatoes could be cooked with the skin on, serve with a little olive oil and butter HMMM!
Next year I am definitely planting early and late potatoes!


Recipe: Kale Stew


1,5 kilo potatoes
1 kilo finely cut kale
300 grams of bacon
3 large onions
200 ml cream
olive oil
rookworst ( smoked sausage – typical Dutch )


Cook the potatoes and kale in about 25 minutes, ( kale on top of the potatoes)
In the mean time fry the bacon bits in about 4 minutes, put a little butter or olive oil with the bacon and fry the onions with them until they are lightly browned. Cook the smoked sausage.
Mash the potatoes and kale together, mix the bacon and onions and the cream in it and serve it with the warm smoked sausage.
Anyone who is a vegetarian, you can fry the onions and serve the dish with a vegetarian substitute. ( recipe thanks to Marianne Oud –