Nibbling the dandelion

Over lunch, I watched with fascination as a variety of birds came into the garden. One in particular caused great amusement, for after it had supped from the pond it turned its attention to something green.

Who would have thought a pigeon would prefer dandelion leaves to the ones on the broad beans, but then I’m not a pigeon.

Dandelion leaves after they have been lunched on

I had been keeping the dandelions for their flowers to feed the pollinators but now it looks like they have another use. (I know I could use them myself but I’m happy for others to benefit first.) So, come again soon, pigeon, and eat some more of the right greens.

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Decision: rotten not pungent

After I built a mini hugelbed by the backdoor I planted the wild garlic I’d dug up from its original bed. In the interim, it had been in a pot which became waterlogged and there was a veritable stench.

As the remnants of the wild garlic as well as germinating seeds have flourished in the cultivated garlic patch, while nothing has come up in the new spot, it seems that the stench was due to rot. In other words, there will be no wild garlic by the backdoor.

Instead, there are now going to be strawberries. These too came from when I cleared the back border for the cultivated garlic and they have survived their pot. They will be happier than wild garlic would have been, anyway, as the ground in this spot is very dry, no doubt because it is close to both the fence and the house.

Next to them in the photo you can see (red) poppies, which I have decided to keep. Elsewhere, I’ve been hoeing them away, as I don’t want them everywhere in the garden, delightful as the flowers are.

On the other hand, I’ve decided to keep the yellow poppies which invited themselves into the garden. They aren’t so prolific and the flowers last longer (the red variety I have only last a day). At least, I think the plant by the dogwood is a poppy.

Posted in Gardening, perennials, soil management | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A beautiful Easter

Carr House Farm in the Yorkshire Wolds opened its doors for Good Friday and in addition to buying a few months’ supply of bread flour, I took a walk round to see how the farm looked in spring time.

A pity my daughter wasn’t younger, she might have enjoyed the Easter trail. But while she sat in the car I found some amusement in certain landmarks.

It might be hard to believe that things could get even better but they did. After looking at the map for the closest piece of coast to the farm, I plumped for Flamborough. Thus, we found ourselves on an amazing beach. Not only did it have seaweed for my compost bin, there were beautiful white rocks with the shadows of fossils in them

The rocks presumably came out of these crumbling cliffs.

And of course there was the view, which reminds me, as always when I look out on the sea, of John Keats’ poem Ode to the Sea.

The excellent weather has continued today. So, I took a walk to St Aidan’s Nature Reserve from the Swillington side and discovered a woodland

which I believe to be St Aidans Remainder. Apart from the bluebells I saw a hare, so was totally charmed.

Equally, on the path leading to the woodland I became acquainted with the white dead-nettle. I must have seen these before but what flowers!

They are not a stinging nettle so I think they could make an attractive addition to the forest garden at home.

Posted in Days out, foraging, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Soapwort and tulips

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the tulips in the front garden to open. We’re not completely there yet but there is more purple, my favourite colour, than there was yesterday.

Somewhat hidden amongst the greenery is a recent acquisition, thanks to Nancy at skyent: soapwort. I had been trying to grow some from seed but without success, so she offered to propagate some from her plants.

I’m curious to see how the plants look as they grow – and ultimately to see if I can use the plant as an alternative to soap.

On a different note, whilst digging the hole for the soapwort, I came across plastic, which must have coated the cardboard I put down as part of the lasagne gardening technique used to get rid of the lawn. It is somewhat ironic that I should have added plastic to the front garden when much of my time in the front is spent collecting the plastic detritus that blows in.

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A pheasant joins the crowd

It seems that the pond may be an attraction for a bird I’d never seen near my garden before:

I couldn’t believe my eyes, as this is the first pheasant I’ve ever seen in the area. Perhaps he was on a reconnoitring mission in search of water because it is very dry. After a drought last year, followed by a dry winter and no rain on my patch since last month, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Alternatively, the bird network is spreading the message that there’s a quiet little pond which is such fun to bathe in and the pheasant just couldn’t resist a peek. In any case, he didn’t venture off the fence, so I hope his curiosity was satisfied.

The other birds continue to amuse. Here’s a photo of a pigeon rummaging around in the front garden. It (not sure of its sex) came with two pals and I wonder if it is the same group that congregated round the pond recently.

I never knew I would find birds such fun to observe.

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The raspberry cane and food waste

Yesterday afternoon, we had our second Composting Champions meeting to work out how to get people composting their food waste. So, now I’m going to be writing a funding application to run a workshop where we’ll teach people to turn broken wheelie bins into composters.

This brings me onto the subject of my own bokashi. I had decided it was time to plant out the raspberry cane as it looked like it was suffering in its tiny pot, which to boot seems to have been filled with peat (oh dear!). It’s intended spot was also starting to show signs of Jerusalem artichoke growth.

No doubt I didn’t manage to get all of the tubers out, so any further shoots will need to be chopped down. However, I was pleased to see the bokashi solids I’d prepared the soil with last month were well on the way to decomposition.

I didn’t dig deep enough to see any significant worm activity but in other spots where I’ve put bokashi solids there have been large numbers of them. Thinking back to the dearth of these soil inhabitants when I first started gardening, it is great to see the improvement now.

Thus, I am not only keen to continue the good work at home but hope we can encourage more in the wider community. I don’t have the capacity to take food scraps from friends and neighbours but for anyone who thinks they could either donate or make use of the food waste from others, here is a link to the Share Waste website, which can help donors and recipients find each other.

Posted in forest garden, soil management | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

First there was one and then there were three

Ever since I missed an opportunity to take a photograph of a blackbird making use of the pond, I’ve been on the lookout for another. The birds are generally too quick but yesterday I was in luck.

I’ve had to move the pond plant further down the pond, as the birds were knocking it over when bathing.

Taking a photo through a window when the sun is beating down on you is quite a tall order. Not least, I couldn’t see through the lens, so took a number of shots. I had seen a second pigeon arriving but didn’t realise until I looked at the results of my photography that there were in fact three birds.

Things seemed amicable but they all flew off soon after the above shot. Perhaps they were having a pool-side meeting.

Posted in Pond and bog garden, Wildlife | Tagged , | 14 Comments