Top of my list for 2010 gardening resolutions is to grow vegetables, and my husband this week helpfully put together the raised bed and filled it with soil, compost and manure. However — this is rose pruning time, and I’ve just spent two hours out there clipping and cleaning up old foliage from the roses, giving no headspace whatsoever to my vegetable project. I hope my Eatin’ Project endeavour isn’t doomed!
My cos lettuce seedlings are ready to go, my stumpy little Parmex carrots are waiting to be planted, and parsnip seeds could get into some toilet roll holders tonight if the kids get to bed early. I have heard that neither carrots nor parsnips, as root vegetables, will be happy if transplanted, but since the Parmex are ball-shaped, I may risk them in modules and keep the toilet rolls for the ‘nips.
And so I return to the roses. The Rose de Rescht hedge I planted two years ago is in places well over three feet tall, and I cut the whole thing straight across with shears today, saving a few choice offcuts to put into the ground as hardwood cuttings. (I look for a good, thick, straight piece of wood, about 9 inches long. At the bottom, I cut straight through the middle of a growth bud — or a swollen area that should be a growth bud; at the top I cut just above a growth bud. As long as they go into a lightly shaded bit of ground that will get moisture and dappled sun for the next year, the cuttings will be very happy and may even produce flowers this summer).
But it’s the climbers I most look forward to pruning. I have an Etoile de Holland and a David Austin climbing James Galway, and both are performing so brilliantly for me in June and September, with James Galway flowering right through into November. Both of these roses let me train their long, long arms horizontally and they produce flowers all along their horizontal length, as long as I clip side shoots back to two or three buds in February.
Somebody please tell me I’m going to get similar satisfaction from my vegetables. The raised bed is in a good, sunny position near a few of my favourite roses, which will hopefully will provide a background scent as I tend the vegetables. If I can just get some food out of the ground, maybe I will start to feel the love. If you’re a flower lover who’s also going edible for the first time this year, speak up.