View from the kitchen window

I learned on the PDC course that it was normal to have a dip in the weather about now, but I’m hoping that today will be the last of the chilly days. 

I do love my garden when it is raining, though. Everything looks so lush. And in comparison with previous years, it already seems quite full. No doubt this is in part because the strawberry plants have grown quite a bit and the Jerusalem artichokes have turned into a field of their own.

Anyway, looking out of the kitchen window onto the greenery

makes up for the fact that the carrots, mangetout and other crops seem to be growing very slowly. And the apple tree seems to be losing its blossom rather quickly. I just hope the bees of various kinds had chance to get it before it was too late!

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Clearing the path

Last year, between two of the stones that constitute the garden path, there was an interesting collection of plants: brambles, silver birch and dandelion. Needless to say, I didn’t plant any of them and didn’t want them there.

At the same time, I had put off doing anything about them – until I already had the spade out today to remove bluebells from a spot where the rose bush is going to move to.

Instead, the leaves are now in the compost bin to add nutrients the accompanying roots had brought up from the subsoil. And I feel I’m shaping the garden, even while waiting for more annuals to go out and crops to be ready to come in.

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One tomato plant has had its day!

Last autumn, a tomato seedling appeared in a pot on my windowsill. No idea how it got there but, out of curiosity, I decided to let it grow to see what happened.

The upshot was an occasional cherry tomato in the spring but the plant itself looks non-too-healthy, so in the end I begrudged the space it was taking up.

Thus, the tomato plant had now moved to the patio

and in its place we have

lettuce. And Radio Bear, in case you wondered who was in the background.

Since reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, I would agree that all the energy expended on starting off annual vegetables can be frustrating (as well as bad for the soil etc). I also agree with him that tomatoes are still a crop worth growing. And since some lettuce appear to have self-seeded from last year, I hope the type I really want will do the same this year.

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Dianthus (Sweet William)

I had run out of compost for seeds (my own is far too heavy and in any case none is ready at the moment), so I decided the next best thing was a bag from my local garden centre. And I was pleased that the bags for this compost can at least be recycled.

Anyway, having gone to a relatively unfamiliar place, it seemed reasonable to explore. And what did we find but the most beautiful dianthus.

the sweet william we chose, now in the front garden along with self-seeded phacelia

It occurred to me that dianthus look similar to carnations – and so I set to looking on the Internet. I wouldn’t like to claim the two are the same but I believe they are related. I also learned that they are biennial, so hopefully they will produce lots of seeds for new plants in the future.

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Repurposing the repurposed

Officially, the last day for frost risk is 22 degrees Celsius in Leeds. Not sure if it is the same where I am but since the night time temperatures are predicted to be about 10 degrees over the next few days, I think it’s a reasonable assumption that it’s safe enough for pumpkins which have been hardened off.

That said, there’s no harm in providing a little extra warmth, if the materials are about. So, once I’d got my pumpkins in the ground  this morning, I thought the repurposed packaging they had been started off in might as well be popped round one of them. (The other has a repurposed milk carton for cover.)

In the above photo you can also see self-sown lettuce and chard. Then there’s the mangetout I sowed directly in the ground, which are finally coming on, as well as some carrots. So, the ground is already well covered.

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Three Sisters peeping through

The second attempt at courgettes seems to have been a fail, so I have sown some more in perhaps the vain hope of the third round germinating. On the other hand, I’m ever so pleased that the runner beans are finally showing through the ground!

There’s also a sign of a pumpkin, so all in all it looks like the bamboo canes, which have been ready and waiting in the soil for a long time, might actually come in useful.

It’s not so great that brambles are still present in that patch of ground but I’ll keep cutting them down until all the crops I want have finished. Then I’ll have the underlying roots out. 

Last but not least, the Jerusalem artichokes are growing in this area, too. All being well, they won’t interfere with the Three Sisters but there’s nothing I can do about them right now. At least it’s a crop I want.

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Time to get the net out

The mangetout I sowed indoors and then planted out after the ones sown in situ had started poking through the top of the milk cartons put over them as a cloche. So, even though the nights are still cool, feeling that they had probably acclimatised to being outdoors by now, off came the cartons yesterday.

On the whole, I’ve found that peas generally don’t get eaten if sown later in the summer, but at this time of year, they are too much of a temptation for the pigeons.

Fortunately, I had a large piece of net to hand – and the bonus is that it stretched over some of the strawberries as well. These are showing fruit, so all being well it won’t be long before some harvesting can begin.

So, the peas will add nitrogen to the soil in the forest garden and help me get more strawberries in another way, too!

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