Eggs for chard

Yes, I have been in the garden this week and things have been happening. For example, the onions I planted last week have started to take root.

And how do I know? Well, I guess birds must have got under the netting. Unless onions just spontaneously pop out of the soil. In any case, I hope that roots means leaves soon, so that they make it through the winter.

My greatest activity, however, has been picking a bunch of chard for another member of Leeds Permaculture Network committee. What I hadn’t expected in return was half a dozen eggs.

Definitely not to be sniffed at! And once again this autumn I feel as though my gardening efforts have really been worthwhile.

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Experiments with red cabbage and garlic bulbils

Only one red cabbage has grown to any significance this year. No idea why but thankfully I got to it before it was completely obliterated by these snails:

Now, half the cabbage is in the process of being made into kimchi, or Korean pickled cabbage. The recipe calls for napa cabbage, which I didn’t have and I exchanged chives for onions, but it is hopefully still going to taste divine when it comes out of the airtight container in my wardrobe.

An experiment of a different kind comes in the form of the garlic bulbils which I collected last summer when the garlic bolted. The seeds were put in the ground last winter and then taken up in June. As the seed had formed small bulbs, there seems to be no reason why these bulbs won’t grow into full-blown garlic next year. Still, there is no way of knowing, so I could be without my stock of garlic come next summer.

Bulbils laid out ready for planting

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Roots and soil condition

My enthusiasm for building hugel beds is on the wane. Psoriatic hands and heavy soil don’t go too well together.

However, I woke up this morning and felt inspired to get the spade out. The sun helped. So, now hugel bed number seven is complete.

Anyway, I was impressed with the condition of the soil I was moving to make a trench for the wood. In comparison with the compacted clumps I’ve been handling elsewhere in the garden, this soil was soft and friable.

The difference between the spot where the latest hugel bed has been built and the rest of the garden is the fact that the only thing grown on the former over the past year is phacelia. The soil here was full of roots, which must have broken up the ground as well as filling it with nutrients. 

Whether or not this is the reason for such a pleasant surprise, I think I will give the technique a go on other parts of the garden to see if the same applies!

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Academic comment on permaculture literature and claims

Rather than making comment on the specifics of the article I have read on the need for research into claims made by the permaculture movement, it seems appropriate to let readers interested in an academic perspective make up their own minds on the content:

Permaculture for agroecology: design, movement, practice, and worldview. A review, Ferguson R.S. & Lovell, S.T., April 2014, Agronomy for sustainable development, Vol. 34, Issue 2, pp 251-274

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Where did the fennel come from?

About a week ago, I cut down the fennel (herb) after collecting the seeds for tea. I therefore thought that was the end of that. 

But this evening, whilst gathering salad leaves I noticed a fennel plant amongst the cabbages and chard. So, once again I am in awe of nature.

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Senshu onions

Having taken out the tomato plants which seemed to have been affected by blight the other day, there was now space for the compost bin to move and half the Senshu onions to go in.

After the success of the onions I planted in January, some of which got forgotten and are now growing again, I was keen to have more in the ground this winter. My local farm has not offered so much in the way of vegetables this year, so I am glad to have had plenty of my own to make up for this shortfall.

As for the compost, it was dry in the middle, so decomposition had been arrested. The dryness was down to the depth of material in the bin, so in future I need to add water as I add material. This might not totally deal with the issue but hopefully it will speed up the rotting process.

Apart from the tomato plants, black radish had been growing in the place where I wanted the bin, so they were pulled up this morning. I’d expected them all to be duff but as it turns out there were two rounded roots, so yet again there has been a lesson learned: thin out the black radishes!

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I couldn’t help it!

Yesterday was spent on and around the North York Moors and even my daughter agreed it was a very good day out!

The idea for the day had started with finding a star-gazing event at Sutton Bank. So, it seemed logical to find another event in the vicinity beforehand……. which turned out to be an Apple Day at Helmsley Walled Garden, where I had hoped to identify a new apple tree for my own garden.

As it turned out, the ‘Dark Skies’ event at Sutton was a bit of an anticlimax after the initial talk about the universe, because the moon was too bright and the clouds were too many to view the stars. The Apple Day was also a slight letdown, as there were only a few varieties of apple to try out instead of the many I had expected.

However, I did identify an apple which appeals

I am told these are hard to get hold of in spite of being a Yorkshire apple

and the walled garden was itself a pleasure to walk round.

whilst in the orchard, we bumped into the head gardener, who was explaining about pruning apple trees

in case anyone is wondering, this isn’t the head gardener

Another plus for the day was discovering the government has changed the rules on Gift Aid. Now, in return for 25% of the entrance fee being added by government to what the visitor pays, the benefactor of this gift has to offer something to the visitor. Thus, we now have free entry to the garden for the next twelve months.

The trip up to Sutton Bank was also made more worthwhile, this time by what I found near the car park before the talk started. We arrived early, so went for an exploratory walk and guess what I found?

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