Kale moving outside

At work today, I was so pleased to see the students coming in with umbrellas. Perhaps they were dismayed but to me it meant: planting….

As it turned out, the rain had hardly penetrated the soil but if only psychologically it felt better to be making holes in the ground in dampened earth than in matter that was bone dry.

In any case, the first kale plant has gone out. It’s in a hugel bed where sweetcorn failed to germinate, so now I envisage this popping up around the kale. Not much chance of that but then kale seems to do better than sweetcorn for me – and it will keep us going for longer.

Ironically, the kale plant that has just gone out is bigger than the ones I pulled the first time I grew it. So, starting off inside has definitely been a success, so far.

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The trouble with cover crops

The other day, I needed to clear a patch of phacelia to make way for the compost bin. I love phacelia as much as the bumblebees but a downside of using it has been confirmed in my mind.

One of the claimed advantages of a cover crop is that it reduces weeds. Now, in the featured patch of ground, the brambles were already there but I swear I didn’t plant the other stuff which I’d mostly removed by the time I took the photo.

Of course, the seeds might have been dormant. But that doesn’t alter the fact that in my experience cover crops just make it harder to weed.

The strawberry patch being another case in point…… And much as I’ve decided I like fumitory, I don’t think it would taste as good as the fruit. So, I’ve been pulling a lot of that recently.

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More of some and less of another

This evening, as I was turning the compost and moving that which was almost ready to the other bin, I noticed I didn’t have as much to put into the finishing off bin as I used to. 

At first, I was a little dismayed but, on reflection, this is the inevitable consequence of putting bokashi mix straight into the hugel beds, as I build them. In other words, most of my kitchen waste is being diverted.

Last year, I was very excited by the effect I felt the bokashi mix was having. The crops on top of the hugel beds seemed to be doing brilliantly. Not so much this year, it seems, as the tomato plant and peppers there are hardly growing.

However, I think this has more to do with sprinkling wood ash on the top of the soil: the soil is a bit too alkaline perhaps. And I certainly can’t complain about the poppies that are growing in the same soil!

Last night, my daughter and I started collecting the seeds from the poppies which have flowered. The bowl you see in the picture is just a small number of the heads that have been collected to be dried, so that the seeds are ready for storage.

It’s going to a long job saving the poppy seeds, but great to have a crop after the beauty of the flowers themselves has gone.

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The blueberry hugel bed

Over the past week or so, I had been making preparations for the building of a sixth hugel bed. This one was to be different in that it was going to be filled with a big no-no: pine.

Pine is acidic and the hope is that this hugel bed will therefore provide the right environment for the blueberry bush. So far, the bush has done fine in the garden, though not produced many berries this year because of new growth (I think). However, if I was going to go the trouble of doing a lot of digging to improve the soil, it made sense to use acidic wood in the hugel bed.

Indeed, it was quite a lot of trouble to dig the hole required for all the wood I wanted to put in it. The soil was hard after this dry spell, although much easier to dig than where I put the rose bush last week. Very few worms, though. Which hopefully will change now a lot of organic matter,  albeit needing as yet to decompose, has gone into the hole.

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The will to live

This morning, when I opened the curtains, I got quite a surprise.

The pumpkin flower pictured above is on a plant which had been buried under mangetout plants which refused to stay on their supports. It had also been crowded out by chard and buckwheat, so all in all I am amazed it has survived, let alone started flowering.

The mangetout have now gone from this patch – the chard and buckwheat got cleared out earlier. And now the pumpkin will join the ranks of the regularly watered, as it hasn’t rained for at least a couple of weeks. Unless spots of rain count (I don’t think so!)

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An unexpected forage (cherries)

Today was one of those perfect days when everything seemed to go right and then some!

Friends visited us in our village and we showed them around the community orchard, which I have hardly been to myself… It’s that on-your-doorstep syndrome, where it’s so close you overlook it. 

We picked a few fruit there, only a little taste, but I was quite taken with the red gooseberries. I’m not sure I’d even realised that they came in this colour (as opposed to green). In any case, gooseberries whether green or red are on my list for the garden back home.

On the other hand, a cherry tree isn’t on the list, considering the size of my garden. Still, I need hardly fret over this situation, especially as later in the day we discovered cherries ready to pick in the park – another place I’ve actually rarely been to.

This time, my daughter and I went back in the evening with a stepladder to collect the fruit. She mentioned cherry cordial, so for the rest of the evening I’ve been busy in the kitchen making that. And tomorrow, I’ll see if I can make jam with the remaining pulp.

Home is definitely not such a bad place to stay at the weekend.

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The north-south divide

Before I started the front garden make-over, I had been concerned that nothing would flourish there, since it is on the north side of the house. In truth, it is actually northeast-facing, so in the summer it does get a fair few hours of sun.

Nonetheless, I am intrigued by the behaviour of the poppies. The petals fall off the ones in the southwest-facing back garden within a day. But in the front?

Poppies are one of my favourite flowers, so it certainly gladdens my heart to arrive home to the above sight!

What’s your favourite sight upon arriving home?

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