the zipcar garden continues…

June is here and with it summer has arrived. Or at least what we used to call summer before summer stopped being quite so summery. Perhaps it’s time to update the terminology. We could go with ‘The Grey Season’ or perhaps a more accurate term would be ‘Not Obviously Winter’ – though in fairness, neither quite have the snappy ring of ‘Summer’.

Whatever you call it though, you'd be forgiven for thinking that ‘what we now refer to as summer’ consists of building and nurturing a sort of summer-themed memento mori, essentially expending efforts constructing reminders of the impending gloom that British winters bring. Though perhaps we’ve just spent too long outside lately. As long as Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, all will be forgiven.

The Beds:

Regardless of the weather, our Zipcar Garden has been progressing on the optimistic assumption that the sun will doubtless sneak out when no-one’s looking, long enough to nourish our plants and probably whilst we’re all at work and suitably distracted by blinking screens and talk of The Apprentice (Jason Leech for the win!).

Last month saw us building the beds, having picked up some railway sleepers in a Zipvan and turned them into rudimentary purveyors of vegetables. In case you don’t remember (you can see the full post here) here’s a before and after:

The beds in construction.

They swallowed around two cubic metres of earth between them and were topped up with compost. Once completed we cracked on with planting our first set of crops and with some plant food, water and gentle evening conversation (not every night, that would be crazy.. who knew brocolli would make such good listeners?) the plots have developed nicely. Albeit without much sun, and with the constant risk of being utilised as a luxury toilet by neighbourhood cats.

The Plants:

Despite the challenging environmental factors, the plants in general are progressing well since first planting. Here are the beds just after planting (about 5 weeks ago), and as of 9th June:

The beds, planted and as they are now.

The broccoli, garlic, peas and raspberries are the best performing so far with the biggest noticeable growth. The peas have required some TLC and assistance in finding the correct route to climbing up the pyramid frame. As mentioned in the last post we did build a wire framework in order to encourage their growth and take the weight of any peas that the birds leave behind. Simply using canes would probably have been easier, but we're hoping the aesthetic will be worth it eventually.

Please peas me.


Garlic is another crop growing well (and by 'growing well' we mean simply 'growing'). When planting, the bulbs had to be 1cm below surface level. After a week of no sprouting we brushed aside a lot of the topsoil and within another day or so we started to see some green stems coming through:

Keeping the Vampires away.

The red pepper plants haven't progressed more than an inch or two at the most, however we’re putting this down to their positioning as they currently receive the least sun across both patches, and given the aforementioned lack of distinguishable sunlight, we’re not entirely confident that we’ll get any peppers from them unless the weather improves – we’re crossing our green fingers though. The courgettes on the other hand appear to be beginning to sprout:


The onions (both red and white) are struggling onwards and upwards, and the broccoli is demonstrably improving, but the real excitement lies with the raspberries which are beginning to flower:

Getting fruity with raspberries

The summer-fruiting ones (in the foreground) are flowering and the hints of raspberries can be seen already. The others are Autumn fruiting, so we’re hoping for an even better crop from them when the time comes.

Here are both the beds in their current glory:

Ted's keeping watch

Next time:

There’s an ever-growing list for the Zipcar Garden, but some of the next projects we’re hoping to tackle are: Potting a Blueberry plant, construct, build and plant a raised herb-planter (apparently it’s good to separate most herbs from beds as some, like Mint, spread very quickly and are difficult to control), improve the Tomatoes section – currently in grow bags until a spot can be found, the addition of netting over both veg patches and the construction of a workshop on what was formerly a bed of broken bricks but is now a concrete foundation:

The future site of the Zipcar workshop

Over to you:

Have any of you followed us on our journey into the realms of ‘grow-your-own’? We’d love to see some pictures – send them over to and we might send you a little bit of something Zipcar to say thanks. If not, why not book a Zipcar and pop on down to your local garden centre to see what you could grow – even a sunny windowsill will do! And if any of you have any advice on how we can improve our patch, please do let us know in the comments section below.

Gardener's Zipstertime

Previous Zipcar Garden Posts:

April - The history of the Zipcar garden & planning for 2013

May - Building the beds and planting, and meet Ted (security).

Granny’s Tip:           

Keep your veg patch clean of debris, this will help prevent pests from eating your plants and destroying your crops.”

We like to think we're pretty clean, but we did take a few hours out of our evening to clean all the dropped leaves, twigs and general detritus from our veg patch. For more comprehensive pest control, check out the RHS one-stop-shop for dealing with pests.

Useful Links:

RHS Vegetable Planner

RHS June To-Do list

BBC ‘Dig In’ Grow your Own Information

UK Gardening tips & information

Gardeners' World:

Did you know that green-fingered Zipcar members can find fresh inspiration with our new member benefit from Gardeners’ World? Get 12 issues of the UK’s biggest selling gardening magazine for just £28 – that’s 40% off the cover price. Packed full of practical advice, subscribe today and your garden will soon be bloomingly better than the Zipcar Garden.

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