Is the glass half full or half empty?

Today started off well. It was sunny and I got some essential jobs done in the house. Then I heard work going on out the back and I had a sense of foreboding. 

When I looked outside, I noticed some of the panels from the fence between my neighbour and her neighbour leaning against the fence between us. It seemed a strange place for the ‘landscapers’ to leave them, unless… They were going to be used by neighbour for something else!

My daughter has pointed out to me that we don’t actually know what that something else might be. It could conceivably have nothing to do with fences. However, I do know that a taller fence is on the cards, as my neighbour has broached the subject a few times.

Now, part of me would like a greater degree of privacy in the back garden – and the fence we currently have is getting shoddy. Also, I wouldn’t then need to worry about anything I am growing encroaching onto her land.

However, taller fences would mean less sunlight on the eastern side of the garden. I saw already today how the chives were in constant shade because of the fence panels laid directly above. I was hoping to put tomatoes next to them this summer but now I’m wondering if they would be alright in this position. And if they are not, where else am I going to put them?

Of course, once I know for sure what is going to happen, it will be easier to make the necessary decisions – and taller fences could be the start of something new and beautiful. So, let’s hope for the best!

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The price of chard

At the weekend, I visited a friend who has guinea pigs. Thus, I saw a way of doing her a favour and relieving my garden of a vegetable which had grown so profusely over the last year that I really can’t eat enough to keep up with supply.

The photo above shows the patch of chard after it had been culled. Yet I hardly made a dent in the amount of available foliage and still managed to fill a carrier bag (remember those?) to hand over this morning.

I don’t actually know the cost of how much I gave away but considering it is organic, I reckon it must have been somewhere in the region of £5-£10 worth of chard. It shows that if you get the produce right you can certainly save quite a bit by growing your own. The trick for me therefore seems to be getting a greater variety of food that I want.

PS WordPress has just told me it is my fifth anniversary of blogging. I wish I had been able to capture the sight I came home to this evening: a pigeon sunbathing on my fence. It was clearly very much enjoying the experience. So glad I am able to blog about this fitting end to the day!

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Up with the garden path: Completion!

In April 2013, I decided to tackle the path, running down the bottom right of the garden, which was an unsightly space filled with pebbles and weeds. I couldn’t even pull the wheelie bins over it to get them out for collection.

I can hardly believe it has taken me four years, almost to the day, since my daughter and I took up the flagstones which were causing such an obstruction and started collecting the pebbles (which I sold for a pound on EBay).

Now, not only do I have a shed over what was this path but the brown bin has gone and the other two collosal wheelie bins (one for landfill, the other for recycling) are neatly hidden behind the shed. 

The final touch came when I lifted a 3 foot by 2 foot flagstone, which had been placed on decent soil right by the back fence. I had actually built a hugel bed here, before I decided to put the flagstone down. But now the ground is once more useable, the third clump of wild garlic I got from Old Sleningford has been planted.

Overall, I have still got a large amount of work to do in order to get the garden where I want it to be. However, there is a huge sense of satisfaction in what I have just achieved!

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Native bluebells?

This morning, whilst picking nettles for soup and cordial in a lane (bridleway) just by my house, I noticed some bluebells.

My first thought was one of dismay, that Spanish bluebells were everywhere. However, I’m not so sure they are the Spanish variety. They are definitely a different colour from the ones in my garden. The leaves are also different, slender and a less intense green.

I’d like to think they were native flowers but I can hardly imagine a small cluster seemingly remote from other English bluebells can really be this variety. So, perhaps they are a hybrid, or are affected by the shade under the trees.

Another mystery is the wood I saw stacked up by the back fence of a house that borders with the path. Is the owner of the fence doing this deliberately as a type of insulation from noise (not sure what noise) or is some other individual tidying up with nowhere else to take the branches. 

Oh well, the gentleman listening to music who passed as I was picking nettles may have been equally puzzled by my actions.

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Borage is back

Last year, I sowed borage seeds in the front garden to fill a space – a large space. The borage, with self-seeded phacelia, then took over and smothered quite a few other plants. Thankfully, they survived and have grown more robust in the interim (see the primrose in the background).

I’m so pleased to have some borage flowers for a salad tonight. However, I wish the plants could be a little more on the diminutive side. As it is, I am afraid they will have to get chopped down when they get bigger, as I would like to appreciate some of the perennials as well.

All the same, it is great to see more flowers at a time when the bees may still be finding it hard to get all they need!

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Seed Co-operative

Whilst reading the Permaculture Magazine this morning, I took note of an advertisement for a company that produces and sells organic and biodynamic seed. The company is based in Lincolnshire (UK).

A little intrigued, I looked up Seed Co-operative on the internet and discovered that they seek shareholders to help them build the business. Now, it would not be proper for me to endorse the company, as I have had no prior dealings with them. On the other hand, you may be in a position to help – or maybe this is simply a company you would like to buy from.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will donate or become a shareholder. However, I will definitely look into buying some seeds from them. I might even arrange a visit for next time I’m in that neck of the woods. 

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Eyes bigger than my belly

One thing that I didn’t mention about my trip to Clumber Park, a National Trust property in Nottinghamshire, on Sunday is that I ended up buying butternut squash seeds. I’d already purchased some earlier in the year (from a different place), so I didn’t need anymore. 

However, if it encourages seed-saving rather than Big Pharma, in my eyes that is no bad thing. Except that I don’t know where I am going to put all these plants, taking it they all thrive.

Who knows if they will but continuing my experiment to see what works in the shed, I’ve left one of the pots with a butternut squash seed in it, in there. By all accounts, the tomato seedlings seem to be quite happy. So much so that I have moved one of them to a bigger pot.

I’ve never done that before – which to be honest might have been a limitation. Three inch pots don’t have much legroom, so hopefully the ones that can go into bigger pots will be more robust before going into the garden.

Another first is Silene dioica, common name red campion, which I have sown in the front garden. I haven’t had much luck with direct sowing out there. However, since other plants such as borage and marigolds have happily self-seeded, the latest herb might grow into something our pollinators like.

I doubt I will need them for snakebites, however, which is a claimed medicinal use for this plant. I’ve never seen one of our three native snakes, much less been bitten by an adder, the only venomous one. Still, there is always a first time, I guess!

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