Peat-free compost

This morning, I did my first Pilates class in an attempt to strengthen my back muscles. So far, so good. I didn’t attempt to lift the bag of compost I bought later on too much, though.

It took me long enough to find a bag which was peat-free. At first, I thought it was going to be an impossible task….

Someone who works at the chosen garden centre told me that all compost was without peat these days, which I pointed out didn’t seem to be the case. The bag I had just been looking at, for example, contained somewhere between 40 and 70% peat. But then he showed me a pallet of what I had been looking for. Phew!

Ideally, I would have stuck to my own sources to fill the pot I got from my dad

but it is very big. I’m certainly not going to try to lift it once it’s full!

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Rhubarb in curry and a new pot

My take-home this time after a weekend with my parents was an exceedingly large pot for the garden. There isn’t currently a proper resting place for it, so it’s had to go next to the newest apple tree but I think it will be a good spot over the summer.

I’d been wondering how I was going to get all four of the tomato plants out before it was too late but now I have a partial solution: make a second mini hugel bed in the new pot. After all, it’s not as though there is a lack of woody material to fill it up with.

There won’t be any bokashi solids this time, even if I go like the clappers and eat rhubarb till it comes out my ears (rhubarb leaves are an excellent way of filling up the bokashi bin). However, I do have a voucher for £5 off at a garden centre, so I will get a bag of compost to supplement my own filling.

Anyway, we have found a new way to indulge in rhubarb. Tonight’s fare was a curry with the aforementioned, plus lentils and potato. It did taste a little tart to me but my daughter declared it to be peculiarly sweet. Which gives me some leverage when it comes to persuading her to eat it in crumble.

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Yesterday, the lady who I’d given cowslips to a couple of weeks ago came to our Knit and Natter group with gifts of her own.

Now, it turns out that there are many types of Ipomoea, more about which can be found on Wikipedia. Suffice to say that one of these is bindweed. Another is the sweet potato.

Reading through the list of tribes and genera, it seems that what I have is unlikely to be bindweed. However, having acquired ground elder, I’m not keen on another potential headache. So, I am going to practise caution and keep the Ipomoea in a pot until I see its flowers.

On the other hand, I could of course end up with a root vegetable. I think this is actually unlikely, considering root crops hardly flourish in my soil. But let’s see what we get.

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Beans and more beans

Yesterday, the beans I had sown directly in the ground started coming through. Yay! Honestly, it’s been quite cold at night, so this comes as something of a surprise.

But if they are coming through, then the beans I sowed in the shed, which have been growing nicely over the last week or so, should also be able to survive in the ground. So, tonight I got my trowel out and put them in the hugel bed which attracted the interest of the rats over the winter.

Incidentally, the pigeon that I buried in there was still very much intact, so clearly the rats didn’t like it too much. Hopefully, the beans will feel differently, although only if the pigeons don’t nobble them first.

I started protecting the beans sown outside with as many cartons/plastic bottles as I could find. These mini cloches have worked well in the past – I just need a few more for the other plants which are coming through.

As for the beans from the shed, these are now wrapped in netting, which should hold the pigeons at bay. On the other hand, once my neighbour puts the new fence up, there may not be enough direct sunlight, but I don’t feel I can simply abandon this patch of ground. So, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

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An alternative to soapwort?

A year or two back, I read Mark Boyle’s The Moneyless Manifesto, which I found quite inspirational. Now, I am aware that if we didn’t have money, people would find plenty of other ways of being, say, corrupt or envious. On the other hand, on an individual basis, it can feel good when you choose to find alternative ways of operating.

One herbaceous plant Mark mentioned was soapwort, which in the past was apparently used to wash clothes. As I was suffering quite badly from psoriasis on the palms of my hands at the time, the plant therefore appealed on a number of fronts.

However, the seeds I sowed last year didn’t get very far. And it didn’t look like the Red Campion (Silene dioica) I sowed was going to do much better. At least, it grew a few leaves in the front garden.

This year, it has gone one better and produced flowers, although as you can see ‘red’ is not the colour I would choose to describe them.

When I bought the seeds, there had been some mention of a use as a herb. I couldn’t remember what, so I did an internet search on the bus this morning. I still can’t remember what the tea from them is supposed to be good for but I do remember a more interesting possibility. Soap.

The internet articles one and all failed to give precise guidance, unfortunately. The best I got was to heat an unspecified number of the roots in an unspecified amount of water for an unspecified amount of time. Not one for shirking a challenge, though, I will at some point do a bit of experimenting to develop my own recipe. And then I will let you know.

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Phlox and Artemisia

On Sunday, in addition to all the sights indulged in, I went on a bit of a spending spree in Helmsley. Hunters of Helmsley is a fantastic place to stock up on organic unbleached flour and the like. But I hadn’t expected to be buying any plants.

However, as we’d been walking along the road, admiring people’s front gardens, my friend pointed out Phlox and at the Walled Garden they happened to be selling the same variety, Emerald Cushion Blue.

As there was an offer on, three plants for £10, and my friend was already buying a plant, it seemed reasonable for me to get a second plant for myself. Artemisia Powys Castle caught my eye, as well as my nose, having a smell somewhat similar to lavender, so I couldn’t really say no.

The two new acquisitions are now, happily I hope, in the front garden, which is slowly starting to look like the space I want to to be. And I’ve got plans for some developments in the back, but they need my neighbour to put in the new fence between us before I start on those.

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A day of beautiful flowers

The more I visit Helmsley Walled Garden, the more I love it. Today was the first time I had been in the spring and I wasn’t to be disappointed.

Look at the spectacular tulips in a meadow (with Helmsley Castle in the background).

And here is a view of the same meadow from a different angle.

These tulips are a must-have for me. In the autumn I will therefore search for some in these colours, which should suit my daughter with her pink obsession as well.

Another display of flowers which particularly caught my eye was a row of alliums. A pity they don’t seem to grow in my own garden, although there is the possibility the bulbs were simply duds. Perhaps I should try again.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that strawberries love my soil. When we went out this morning, they were already looking quite perky. But this evening upon returning home, the flowers on them had come out, so the back garden is truly full of blossom.

What a feast of fruit we’ll be having in a short while!

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