A surprise harvest

Most of the time, food comes in from the garden in dribs and drabs. I pick what I need for that meal and leave the rest till it’s wanted.

However, as I’m determined to avoid the dreaded blight this year, the largest tomato plant was divested of its fruit and transferred to the compost bin yesterday. It’s a long time since I’ve had enough green tomatoes to make jam with but, unexpectedly, I now have.

The tomatoes struggled a bit in pots – I couldn’t keep up with the watering, which means a few fruit were affected by blossom-end rot – so next year I will see if the plants will be as productive in the ground. I’m not sure where this patch of ground will be yet, as there won’t be much left after the landscaping. That will therefore be decided in due course.

Anyway, the last of the beans came down, so there were also a few surprises there. And there was a small cucumber hidden in some foliage – the plant itself had already died.

Last but not least, I picked all the apples that remained on the tree. These are those that have not been attacked by what I assume to be codling moth caterpillars. And having just read up about control measures for these, I hope to put them into effect as much as possible.

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Another neglected corner

There is a certain satisfaction in clearing the garden. Even though in the long run I would like to have a garden which is full all year, with as little bare ground as possible, knowing what I know now and with the benefit of a fence all the way round, I feel that I am getting the opportunity to start again.

So, yet again, I’ve been removing pebbles from a neglected corner which, in this case, had Honesty growing in it. The plan last year had been to sow the Honesty so that its roots could break up the compacted soil.

I don’t think the pebbles had originally been there but had seeped through from next door. Either way, it was a messy job getting as many up as possible. On the other hand, digging a hole for the remaining sedum to go in was quite easy, no doubt because of all the rain we’ve had over the last week.

I think the sedum will like this spot, being one of the sunniest parts of the garden as well as one of the driest. It was intended as the herb garden but so far it hasn’t been doing magnificently on that front. However, time will of course tell.

At least the bay tree has thrived this year. Perhaps its hugel bed has sprung into action or it could have been the heat this summer. Or its root system could be well established after being moved from a pot two and a half years ago. In any case, I most definitely won’t want for its leaves.

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All trussed up

It’s raining buckets right now – my weather app was accurate for a change: rain started promptly, just as I had finished today’s round of painting.

Getting at the final panel on the new fence required cutting down the fennel and tying up the pine tree. I was relieved that I didn’t have to be brutal about it. Equally, I was pleased that, once again, not being too tidy meant that I had some broken washing line to hand.

Now, I’ll have to wait till the current round of inclement weather is over to put the final coat of paint on but at least the end is in sight.

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The snail is oblivious

Today, I had new windows fitted, so hopefully the house will be warmer in winter and simultaneously the heating bills will go down.

In the meantime, whilst the work was going on inside the house I busied myself with some chopping outside. I’m sure the rocket will have self-seeded itself enough for this year and I don’t want it absolutely everywhere, so with a hardened heart I took all the remaining flowers off. There are few chive flowers left for the bees and the phacelia will be blooming soon.

One creature which didn’t seem to care one way or the other was a snail which was sleeping on the fennel, which I also took the secateurs to. Unfortunately, the blustery weather blew it off the stalk but it continued to snooze on the ground.

However, a baby one had more luck in staying put. I’ve therefore left the few remaining seeds on the plant where it is hanging, so that it doesn’t lose its footing, too.

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A feeling of space

After a somewhat disrupted night’s sleep due to four young ladies having a ‘sleep-over’, I decided the best way to keep awake until this bedtime was to crack on with the fence-painting.

There is now one panel left on the new fence to do but that involves navigating lots of foliage. So, I’ll leave that for another day. However, it is several years since my neighbour decided to paint my fence at the back of the garden green and therefore it’s surely not going to offend if I paint over it.

So, one coat almost done and when I stood back I had the immediate sense that the garden was bigger. I had already been surprised that there was quite a lot of space behind the oldest apple tree from when I got stuck into removing the ground elder and crocosmia. Now, though, I’m overjoyed at being able to sense it when I look out the diningroom windows.

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Succulents waiting for a home

How often do you walk past something without giving it a thought? My dad gave me a couple of succulents last time we were there, which have been waiting patiently in pots until the ground was soft enough to be planted out. And until this morning I never noticed their flowers.

I’m particularly taken with the one on the right. It’s colours will go perfectly with the other plants in the front garden. Shame the photo doesn’t do it justice.

Anyway, I’ve decided that the other succulent would go best in the herb garden. It might not be a herb but some succulents are edible and it will be able to cope with the exceptionally dry conditions in that corner…. sheltered by fence and house, it is never going to be a vegetable patch.

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Preparing the ground for a hazel

The start of a two and a half week break came yesterday evening. I’ve been longing for this moment, not so much because I need a break but because I’m itching to get on with so many jobs.

I won’t be buying the hazel trees until the winter but I wanted to prepare the ground now for them. Well, the ground for one – the other is going to go where the Jerusalem artichokes are currently growing, so the ground there might not be as thoroughly prepared as for the first.

After seeing how poorly this year’s tomato plants have fared, I suspect growing them over bokashi solids which hadn’t had time to decompose sufficiently is the reason. They did get plenty of watering, so I don’t think the drought had a significant bearing. Which means I want the solids I put in the hazel’s space today to have had time to stop drawing nitrogen from the soil before the tree goes in.

Originally, I was going to dig up the blueberry bush, as it is struggling against the mint. However, it wasn’t necessary from a ground-preparation perspective. On the other hand, the mint around the blueberry had to go, which took a bit of effort.

There were also bluebell bulbs to remove. They are the Spanish kind and, with bluebells being poisonous, I decided they had to go. I also decided to sacrifice some strawberry plants but they were getting old anyway. And hopefully it won’t be too many years before I have a perennial protein crop to balance out all the fruit.

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