What is your favourite type of bread?

Mine is pumpernickel but I can’t get the ingredients to make that and my bread maker would probably struggle, anyway. However, it does do a decent wholemeal rye – as demonstrated by how quickly the one I made for the pot luck lunch on the last day of the PDC was demolished.

According to my Panasonic instruction booklet, a good addition to rye bread is caraway seed. I can attest that this is true and now I am in the process of trying to grow my own.

The night’s are drawing in – I need to get out before ten to get a daylight shot now!

I say ‘trying’ because, with no greenhouse and few windows in my house, the seeds sown this year have only just become seedlings large enough to be planted out in the herb garden. Thankfully, caraway is perennial and flowers in the second year, so I wouldn’t be getting a crop this year no matter the circumstances.

The fact that caraway is perennial, though, begs the question as to why there are so many seeds in a packet, when cucumbers might have so few (well, mine this year did). Perhaps you need fields of the former for an ounce of seeds for baking?

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Longing for rosemary

Four of my rosemary seeds germinated and I duly potted them on. Then one of these seedlings went brown and died. On the windowsill that works, of all places.

The two seedlings I put in the shed are doing okay, albeit growing very slowly. The final one, however, seemed to be succumbing to the same browning effect that the first had. So in the garden it has gone.

Unfortunately, the rosemary seedling couldn’t go in the bed I had planned for it. This was the one right by the back door, which was basically builders sand, topped with pine tree branches and a thin layer of soil. Not exactly ideal, especially having learned that the tannins in pine may be detrimental to plants.

However, with a decent amount of soil to grow in, I hope that whatever ails it will now be in check. Rosemary is such a delicious accompaniment to starchy food, such as garlic bread and steamed potatoes.

Which is your favourite herb?

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I don’t think it’s seakale

I got a second wind at dusk – had already removed a number of poppies during the day and decided to more or less finish off the job later. There is a final tomato plant to put in the ground and I thought I had identified the spot for it.

Considering seakale is supposed to prefer moist conditions, I doubt the spot where I sowed the seeds earlier in the year is ideal. Further, the strands of green in the above photo look very much like gladioli.

However, part of me is reluctant to disturb this ground, just in case I’ve got it completely wrong. Still, I think the next apple tree is going to go there anyway, and then that would definitely put paid to any hopes of seakale in the near future.

I have actually ordered the apple tree, a Ribston Pippin, which will hopefully be delivered in November. So, that’s something to look forward to as we head into winter!

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Headless no more!

If one of my hugel beds seems to have disappeared, another I built more recently certainly hasn’t. Besides, it is clearly a good place to grow, although whether that is because of the wood or just what would be happening without it I wouldn’t like to say.

One thing is for certain: the hugel bed has not been detrimental to the growth of the tomato plant which lost its main shoot while it was hardening off. As you can see in the above photo, it has in fact become quite bushy.

Elsewhere, the tomato plants are doing well, too. There are even tomatoes already ripening on the vine, so we could well be eating them before the end of the month. Tomatoes in July would be a pleasant gift from the garden indeed.

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Where has all the wood gone?

After another wait for rain, I was able to plant the remaining two cucurbits this afternoon. It still wasn’t great for digging a hole deep enough but at least I didn’t wish I had a pneumatic drill.

I had, however, actually expected to encounter wood on the way down. But no, there was none!

Last year, when I dug into the soil above the first hugel bed, I’d been surprised to see there was only wood left and I had therefore thought there would be wood left in the second, which is where I was digging today. So, I can’t believe I couldn’t see any.

Of course, I may have misjudged the exact location. Either way, I will continue to monitor…. and in the meantime, keep my fingers crossed for crops.

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Heat and hugelculture 

The other day, newly grown chard on a hugel bed I built earlier in the year looked like this:

Never before have I known chard to wilt, let alone be prostrate. Now, it has been warm and dry but I suspect that the reason for such a spectacular display of distress is down to the hugel bed. 

At the moment, the wood under the soil and compost will still be solid branches and thus hardly the ‘sponge’ I hope it will become once the wood starts to decompose. In addition, the top soil will be thinner on the hugel bed than it would have been before I built it, as it would need to cover a larger area than before/will have sunk between the branches.

Two years ago, when I built my first bed, it seemed to produce better results than growing in soil which had not been so ‘amended’. However, I think I packed in a lot more more green compostable material, if not compost.

Furthermore, chard has a long tap root and perhaps the roots don’t fan out as much as some other plants. This could mean it will have a hard time finding water in comparison with cucumber and mange-tout, the crops which did well in 2015.

Anyway, the chard has recovered with a good dose of water. And as a volunteer plant, rather than a crop I had lovingly tended since seed, there wouldn’t be the same level of chagrin, should it be lost. I do hope, however, that this hugel bed is more effective next year, if indeed what I surmise is true!

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The melon 

For weeks, I’ve been waiting for a female flower to open on the melon plants. Perhaps they did but I simply missed them… However, whilst doing the morning watering just now, at last I saw a healthy looking ovary with an open flower!

I quickly found a paintbrush to transfer some pollen from a few male flowers to the budding melon – I can’t rely on an insect helping me because of the plants being indoors – and now it’s back to nature to do it’s stuff. 

Melon is my daughter’s favourite food, so I’m particularly keen for this to be a success. We often have discussions about how I grow what I like…. although I think she does eat most of our garden produce. Well, bits of!

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