The mint hideout

I’m slowly working my way through the poppies…. breaks my heart to chop them down when there are still so many buds on them. However, I vowed I wouldn’t let them take over too much space after the tomato fail last year.

So, out I went with secateurs in hand and wished I hadn’t. A flock of sparrows was feeding on lupin seeds but flew off at my appearance. I waited a while inside to see if they would come back but they are probably shier than the pigeons and blackbirds.

I wasn’t able to get a photo of the male blackbird who was perching in the mint

not only whilst the sparrows were feeding but also after they had gone. I’m not sure what he was doing there but I am glad he didn’t feel the need to rush off.

Incidentally, this male bird has a touch of what I would describe as grey. Curious, I looked up to see if this was possible and was saddened to see that his colouring is probably due to some other cause. However, he certainly does look distinguished!

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Pea happy!

I was in half a mind not to go to the Fuel for Schools stall today as it can be a bit hit-and-miss – easy to pick up stuff we really wouldn’t normally buy and probably shouldn’t be eating. For example, I now have three different types of mayonnaise in my fridge!

However, I could hardly believe my eyes to find practically a full box of sugar snap peas (grown in Worcestershire and still in date – as if they would be inedible ‘out-of-date’).

Going on my recent small crop, I wonder how many fields this took? I decided to de-pod the peas and freeze them for a rainy day, meaning I had actually quite a small tub. It really brought it home to me just how much land you need for a large crop of just about anything. 

Posted in Gardening, Good for the environment | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Keep up the hope

Yesterday, whilst sorting out the ground for the penultimate tomato plant, I noticed a cauliflower head appearing in the plant that I’d left in the (vain) hope that after a year of growing and having its energy zapped by the neighbouring Jerusalem artichokes, it might actually produce what I was growing it for.

It may be too small to see in the above photo but I can assure you that it has already grown in the last 24 hours. It’s a healthy plant, so I see the chance now that it could form a solid head. Mustn’t get ahead of myself, though….. It could just as easily bolt, like its sisters last summer.

Anyway, tonight I’ve sown Purple Haze carrots as a companion to the tomatoes on the right of the photo. Of course, I would also like the carrots for their own sake but I’ve only once got a decent root – back in the summer of 2011. Beginners luck methinks!

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This year’s applesĀ 

Each time I count how many apples there are on my tree it comes out at a different number. However, if we say there are up to forty that means it is nearly four-fold more than last year.

It has taken quite some time for the tree to produce a good crop but then the top soil is so thin. At the time I planted it (early 2011), I had no idea about banking up the soil to add depth. On the other hand, I doubt I will bank up for the next tree, which I hope to get this autumn.

The bottom line is that if a tree gains soil, something else will lose it. And even if it does take the tree longer to establish, there will be soil building going on underneath its branches. The strawberries are moving down the garden and over time their old leaves will add organic matter to the topsoil. I’ve already noticed how effective that has been at keeping moisture in the soil round the first tree, which must also be of benefit.

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The propagator

Today was the final one of the Permaculture Design Course, where we got to present our group designs of an allotment plot. It was a slightly surreal experience, particularly in view of the fact that I only met this year’s cohort, with whom I did the design, at the last PDC weekend in June. This didn’t stop me feeling sad as we said our goodbyes.

My daughter had a good time working with ‘her’ group, who were so accommodating. I think she will also have learned much, even if she swears blind at the moment that it was ‘boring’. At least she approves of this year’s choice of land to design!

Anyway, gardening doesn’t stop for me – and sourcing sundries via Freegle was next on my to-do list today. Or rather collecting a propagator on the way home. The lady decided to gift me the pots, too, as she felt they would be more useful to me than her.

My hope is that the propagator will lead to a higher germination rate. I’m onto my second attempt with soapwort – am interested to see if this herb can indeed replace tradition bars of soap and in turn be better for my psoriatic hands.

Most of the cucumber and butternut squash seeds have also failed to germinate. In the case of the latter, that may not be a bad thing, as I hardly have room in the garden for more of these plants. On the other hand, one cucumber plant is less than sufficient for our needs.

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Sempervivum in flower

My mum had hoped that my sempervivum (aka houseleeks) would flower for me – and they have!

Or rather, one of the plants has. The tower they come out on seemed to appear out of nowhere but then the buds sat there for quite some time before the first two burst out. The anticipation was worth it, as far as I’m concerned!

The borage around the plant which is flowering look decidedly jaded, on the other hand, so I think I will have them out. It’s not like there is a dearth of borage elsewhere….

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Disappointed with the peas

‘Prolific’ is in the eye of the beholder, no doubt. However, by no definition would the pea crop this year be described as such.

Last of the peas – picked today

I managed three pickings, which makes me wish I’d stuck with mange-tout. They were quick to turn to peas and kept flowering for what seemed like months.

Anyway, the pea plants have been removed from their bed to make way for the butternut squash as they spread – hopefully, not more wishful thinking! And the front garden has also provided an amount of biomass after a foray out there this afternoon to cut down poppies and other flowers which have finished.

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