Knickers in a twist*

This afternoon, I went past a police video van at just over the speed limit (I think). Upshot – kicking myself in case it was operating and I was indeed going too fast. The antidote to the spike in anxiety therefore seemed to be to get in the garden and do some heavy manual work.

I had been deliberating over which of the jobs to do first: compost bin, hugel bed or front garden. The latter wouldn’t have been demanding enough and, besides, the marigolds still have flowers on them, so I contented myself with a bit of weeding out there.

As for the back garden, I plumped for the compost bin. The rhubarb had finally retired for the year, so with the crown now bare, I moved the bin to cover it. The rationale for this is that the rhubarb will get plenty of food, especially when I leave a good mulch behind after moving the bin in the late winter.

I reckon the bin will need to be moved in January at the latest, otherwise I will end up forcing the rhubarb. I’m really not keen on that idea, considering it might kill the plant and I do want its produce for six months of the year.

Anyway, from moving the bin, I was able to mulch the bed where it had stood for the next crop of garlic. The bin had a large amount of compost at the bottom, so all I had to do was leave it in situ. And now I have a new job to actually plant the garlic.

* I put old cotton clothes in the compost bin. So, part of today’s activities was to pick out the elastic left behind.

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If only nasturtiums were tomatoes…

In my eagerness to get as many tomatoes as possible I left them in the ground too long. I kept what I thought were healthy fruit but after only a few days they have become a watery, white-furred mess. So, it looks like botrytis has stuck again as well as blight.

On the other hand, at 20 degrees – yes, that is the temperature today and it looks like it is going to be a balmy night – the nasturtiums are loving it. They are crawling all over the garden, having withstood the cabbage white butterflies’ onslaught.

Returning to the subject of tomatoes, I am toying with the idea of not growing any next year. I dislike the thought of going without but for wont of a better word the soil has become too corrupted. I might not be able to eat all the nasturtiums, let alone make sauces and chutneys with them, but it seems like time to accept that me and annuals are not compatible.

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Coming down

The garden is opening up now. Not only have most of the tomato plants been taken out, but the Jerusalem artichokes have mostly been chopped down and today I did likewise with the runner beans.

If the beans hadn’t blown down last week, who knows. Maybe they would have gone on to produce longer pods than the ones I took off this afternoon. However, I could see that they were dying, so there was no point in prolonging the agony.

I did wait, though, till the ladybird that was on the runner beans had flown off. There are also still plenty of bees about, so just as well the lupins and nasturtiums, marigolds and rocket continue to flower. I’d rather the rocket didn’t, as it is now encroaching on the chives, but these are also merrily still producing flowers, which is good for the bees, too.

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Snails get everywhere

When my Orleans Reinette (dessert apple tree) was still but a maiden, a very large snail decided to clumb up the trunk. So, I put a copper band round the truck and didn’t see any more snails, even though the copper band fell away a few years ago now.

Moving forward to last weekend, I was in a shop which sells essential soils and natural creams for the skin, where I ended up finding out that the owner puts a large band of Vaseline round the trees in his orchard. The idea appealed, although I really was only thinking of next year. However, it does look like my tree is still attracting unwanted attention.

The snails (and slugs) have also been enjoying the tomatoes (most of which I have brought in now though due to blight – sigh!) and squash. Ironically, though, after lamenting for so long about the dearth of the latter, a second one started to grow on one of the vines (in addition to lots of smaller ones) and so far seems to have avoided the gastropod.

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The third time is better

When I sowed my kale last summer, I never expected it to show any perennial tendencies. I cut the tops off the stems and left the roots in the ground, so that they could rot in situ. My rationale was that this would be better for the soil: fertiliser and less damage to the soil structure.

Then the stems started to grow new leaves – the stems also grew – and I chopped them down again over the summer. So, this time I left the stems for a third crop, which has resulted in an even better crop than before.

For the first time, the kale actually looks more like the plant that I expected it to be in the beginning. And I’m wondering if I will be lucky enough to get a fourth crop and what this might be like. As always, time will tell…

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Mayhem outside

Last week was taken up with sorting out mayhem inside. Today, with a dry carpet, it was time to tackle what the wind was doing outside.

Now, this may be the tail end of what’s been happening on the other side of the Atlantic but by no means could you say the wind is remotely as damaging. It just doesn’t happen to be ideal that the runner beans have blown down or that the fleece cloche has ripped beyond use.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to prop the beans up once the wind has died down. There’s at least one more meal out of them. And the sprouts which had been under the cloche will need support. But that’s also a job for another day.

In the meantime, I’ve crammed as much biomass into the compost bin as possible. At this rate, I’ll be keeping any more in a bag until I can move the bin, which should create more room in it. The plan is to place it over the rhubarb patch once this has died down for the winter.

Not long now, probably, especially as the wind has also blown stalks off the crown. Some of them are edible, too, so a crumble is on the cards. I’d have left them on the crown to let the rhubarb feed itself but, hey, I’m not going to waste good food!

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When curiosity didn’t kill the beast!

I’ve just opened my (new😊) washing machine and had an extraordinary experience. Not possibly quite as extraordinary for me as a certain visitor, though.

I’d noticed some slime on the machine door and was chuntering about how it could be dirty already when I realised the cause was something quite unexpected! But how did a snail get into the machine and how did it survive?

Actually, I think it came in on a throw which I’d been trying to dry outside after the flood and then felt the need to wash. And as the super-duper modern piece of equipment has a timer, the snail had ten hours overnight to scramble out of the clothes to (relative) safety. Or something like that.

Anyway, after what might at best have been a strange ordeal, I felt the least I could do was release the snail back into the garden. And when I bring clothes in now, I will check for gastropods. 

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