A scattering of buckwheat

During the heatwave last week, the purple sprouting broccoli seedlings in the shed got forgotten. Just for a day. They were cooped up without fresh air and water, so when I finally remembered them, they were more than a little wilted.

Fingers crossed that I caught them in time. Certainly, the signs are good. I could see that most of the seedlings had new tiny leaves on them which had not wilted, so I’ve been giving them lots of tender loving care over the past week and it looks like they are going to survive.

The bed they are to go in is not yet ready, anyway. I’d been leaving the garlic in there as long as possible but yesterday seemed a good time for it to move on. Thus, the garlic is now drying in the house and I have sown buckwheat seed over the soil in the raised bed.

The greenery in the bed is mostly nasturtiums.

The idea was that this bed should be no-dig but it is difficult to get garlic out without some help from a digging tool. Even with the fork there was the inevitable soil disturbance. However, I decided that I would avoid further disturbance by scattering buckwheat seeds over the surface and then hope that some would not be eaten by the birds.

A few years ago, I had found that buckwheat seemed to protect the cabbages from cabbage white butterflies. I am therefore hoping that it will do the same for the purple sprouting broccoli and it will also produce seed, which I believe I will be able to eat.

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture, raised bed | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Got them all out

Last year, there was one tomato plant. It was quite prolific – but I’m hoping for better this year, having found space dotted around the garden for seven plants in all. The last of them was planted out yesterday, having like the others been acclimatised to the outdoors by a short sojourn in the shed.

Last week, it was so hot that the purple sprouting broccoli seedlings in there almost died. I think I’ve saved them from perishing by watering just in time and can now see the tiniest of leaves beginning to grow on their still healthy-looking stems.

One plant that hasn’t been a cause for concern is the onion by the back door. It has flowered, thus confirming that the other onion I was wondering about recently was in fact of the walking kind. I must have dropped a seed head or a bird may have conveniently dropped it there for me!

I’m going to leave this flowering onion for now to see what happens next. Perhaps I’ll see if the seeds disperse naturally or I could collect them and sow them in due course. However, it may depend on whether the onion is needed for culinary purposes.

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The closest I’ve been

I got a surprise this morning when I got in the car to go and collect my provisions from the local organic farm.

She’d been sitting there while I’d been doing my usual inspection of the front garden as I leave the house. I just hadn’t notice her presence on my neighbour’s lawn. I wonder what she was doing there and why she seemed so calm.

The demeanour of the blackbird today is in contrast to the one I shared a few moments with earlier in the week. I’d gone out to pick some strawberries, only to disturb a blackbird as she was helping herself to some of the same. However, instead of flying off, she rushed to hide behind the red currant bush.

We both stood for a moment, watching each other. She peeping round the side of the bush, me looking down at her, albeit at a distance. Then I started picking strawberries and she must have decided if I was only doing the same as her, I probably wasn’t much of a threat. So, she scuttled across to the strawberries behind another currant bush and continued her meal.

I’ve observed that when blackbirds have a family to feed they are normally very shy of humans (probably other creatures, too). I was therefore surprised that this little lady persisted. I was also taken with time shared in this way, though I doubt she felt the same.

Posted in forest garden, Wildlife | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Field and Flower

On Sunday, we drove out to a place called Altofts to collect some books that a kind gentleman had offered me on Nextdoor, an app which connects neighbours (who sign up). Altofts isn’t actually next door, however, so in order to feel that there had been some greater justification for driving my car to collect some reading material, I looked up what might be of interest in the area.

As it happens, we’d already seen much roundabout but there appeared to be a wood which was new to us on the road to Wakefield. So, we set off and found some beautiful fields full of poppies, though sadly nowhere to stop off to take a photo. By the time we found a spot by the side of the road, we were too far passed the fields but at least we were by some woodland.

Shame about the fly-tipping!

Field and Flower also featured again on Monday, as a much anticipated delivery of British fish arrived from a company of that name. My daughter loves fish but we rarely eat it, not least because I am concerned about the effects of over-fishing. However, this company supports a different model and, whilst I could probably find more local fish, I have no idea how it will have been caught.

Posted in Days out, Gardening, Good for the environment | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Making the switch: Ecotricity

Last Sunday, I watched a webinar in which Jen Gale, author of The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, gave an overview of her book. This was the prompt for me to switch my energy supplier.

I’d seen adverts for Ecotricity in Permaculture Magazine and been subliminally aware that I needed to rethink where my energy was coming from. At the same time, I had the notion that renewable energy would be more expensive than that from my current provider, whose energy comes largely from fossil fuels.

In spite of making a pledge to switch, after the webinar I got on with life and the pledge slipped my mind. Fortunately, it was only a few days later that I remembered and just a few taps, the switch was made.

Before pressing the final button, Ecotricity made a cursory estimation of how much my monthly bill would be. This stopped me in my tracks, as it was an eye-popping £114 instead of the £50 I am currently paying elsewhere.

However, this does not of course mean I will be paying so much moving forward. For a start, the only question asked was with regard to the number of bedrooms in the property. Nothing about lifestyle, double-glazing or other factors which affect consumption.

The second factor depends on what happens in the future. If more people sign up, more can be invested in renewables, which in turn will increase supply.

Apart from the electricity, Ecotricity is moving towards producing its own Green Gas. Currently, non-fossil fuel sources for gas include animal manures and purpose-grown crops. While I’m not personally bothered about the former, I’d rather our fields were growing crops to eat. So, hopefully, their plans to produce the gas from meadows grown on depleted agricultural land will produce good results.

In the meantime, let’s hope my monthly energy bill is lower than estimated!

This ‘sculpture’ presumably made by children playing in a wooded area near my home tickled me the other day.
Posted in Good for the environment, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

‘Be kind. Be compassionate. Have patience.’

How have you been doing for exercise recently? At my end, things have been decidedly poor. A couple of weeks ago, I therefore realised I had to take myself in hand and find ways to incorporate more walking into my life again.

It’s been a bit hit and miss, due in part to needing a reason for the walk. I love walking for pleasure when I have scenery to absorb and/or a companion to talk to but going it alone through the streets is somewhat underwhelming.

However, the café in the local park has re-opened and I do like its coffee. So, for a treat I thought I would pop down there yesterday morning. Twenty minutes there and back – not a bad stretch.

Sitting on a picnic bench sipping coffee whilst working my way through a copy of Le monde diplomatique which had been on a bookshelf unread for fifteen years, I felt liberated. It was the first time I’d been outside the house doing my own thing for three months, so no wonder!

As the caffeine hadn’t kicked in by the time I’d finished the cup, I’d been tempted to get another. Caffeine doesn’t agree with me, though. And having just been reading an article about the imperative of dealing with climate change in the newspaper, another disposable coffee cup made it even less appealing.

Instead, I wandered towards the shops to see if the chemist’s was open. It was and so was the electrical shop, where I was able to get a new charger cable for my daughter’s phone.

I’d just been saying how happy I was to support a local business when, walking back towards home, I noticed a sign in the haberdasher’s window. I think it speaks for itself.

The lady who owns the haberdasher’s is in her 70s. I hope the notice is there as a general reminder rather than a response to unseemly customer behaviour.

Back home, I was cheered by the sight of bluetits in the far apple tree. Unfortunately, the photos I took of them in there didn’t show them clearly enough but I managed to get a better shot as one of them came towards the house. It is so good to see a wider variety of birds enjoying the garden these days.

Posted in Days out, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Let the glut commence

As always, I wait with bated breath as we approach June. Will there be a decent strawberry crop and when will it start?

The first few strawberries are eaten before they are fully ripe. Just in case a bird should get there first and there be nothing left for us.

I know this is a groundless fear, since in the space of 24 hours the strawberry plants have gone from looking green to resembling a very pimply adolescent. So, from now on for the next four weeks, I’ll be picking, picking, picking. And this year hoping my daughter will join me. After all, it is a vital part of her education.

Posted in forest garden, Gardening | Tagged | 3 Comments

Only three!

If you have apple trees, how are they bearing up this year?

As you may already have read, the apple tree at the back of the garden, the oldest, didn’t produce any blossom this year. Ironically, the codling month traps I was concerned about being able to buy earlier in the year therefore aren’t strictly necessary. I haven’t noticed codling moth caterpillars in the crab apples and the other two trees are two young to produce fruit.

Still, the trap I put up at the beginning of the year has been doing its stuff and caught a grand total of three male codling moths since then. My guess therefore is that with no food this year, in 2021 my tree should be in good form – and not be troubled by unwanted guests. Even the aphids seems to be leaving it more or less alone this year!

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Taking shelter

Well, we’ve gone from impending drought to a bout of extended rain. Not that the garden is complaining.

For example, after a hiatus of a few weeks, the rhubarb is starting to poke its head above ground again. And I don’t have to get the watering can out to keep things going.

I wonder how the bees are liking the current conditions, though. This evening, I have caught a bumblebee sheltering under a foxglove flower

although it has since moved or decided to get on with business regardless, as I’ve just seen one going in and out of the flowers for food.

The bumblebees have also been flitting round the strawberry plants still in flower, while the fruit fattens up on the rest. It would be better is the sparrows, or whoever, didn’t put them off and scatter them around the garden, all the same.

Posted in Gardening, Wildlife | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Popping up

I got quite excited at the weekend. Shoots were starting to appear where two weeks ago I’d sown a mixture of beans by covering them with manure.

Upon inspection, these shoots turned out to be nasturtiums, which are also welcome but not what I’d specifically hoped for.

Then, whilst I was taking a quick break from assessing presentations today, what did I see along with the nasturtium leaves?

I’d put a cloche over the patch of beans to stop birds from harvesting the straw for their nests.

At last, here was a bean shooting through the manure. So, it seems that the no-dig system may work.

Hopefully, with the much needed rain we’ve been have this past week, the rest of the beans will appear soon. Then there will be the question of whether the manure/straw will stay put, once the cloche is removed. I guess, however, the beans roots will have secured the plants in the ground by the time the protective covering needs to go. So, all should be well.

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 19 Comments