This year’s Jerusalem artichokes

It has been unbelievably springlike today and for the first time in an absolute age I enjoyed working in the garden.

The plan was to dig up the Jerusalem artichokes, put the contents of the last bokashi bin in the resultant hole and then blanche the tubers in order to store them in the freezer.

The freezer is ready to take them, since we’ve almost munched our way through 2017’s strawberries (just about) and other produce. However, I’m quite worn out after digging and washing. So fertilising and preserving will have to wait.

Out of interest, I looked up how much money I would have had to hand over if I had bought my 4.3 kg of Jerusalem artichokes. It came in at a disappointing £12-£16 – or rather, I was disappointed until I reflected that that is still a substantial number of meals out of a patch of ground which is just two feet by four feet.

On a different note, I was pleased by the number of worms I saw. I wonder if they are there because of last year’s bokashi solids?

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More rot

Yesterday seemed one misfortune after another, from sleeping in and forgetting to put yeast in the panettone to being reminded of how stressful it was to drive in busy city traffic.

However, we did make it to the clothing exchange just as they closed their doors to new donations. I think they were under-staffed and simply could not deal with putting the volume of clothes on racks.

I did at least get round to cutting down the old mint stems and putting them round the blueberry bush for mulch. And whilst doing that I noticed that one of the buds on the main apple tree seemed to be coming into leaf. A bit early, perhaps?

Going into the shed also revealed a surprise. Not that I should have been too surprised really, considering the mould on the squash previously. Perhaps the mould on the runner beans above is only superficial but it does look like the shed is either damp or the beans weren’t dry enough before being stored in there.

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How many babies?

Today on Gardeners’ Question Time (BBC Radio Four), one member of the public asked the panel what they thought of reducing plastic pots that most plants come in. Good one!

Suddenly, plastic waste seems to be all over the news but will this really result in superfluous plastic being eliminated from people’s gardens, amongst other places? I guess only time will tell.

Getting plants from my dad, though, means that we are reusing pots, rather than adding new ones to the pile. It also means I have an inkling of what they should look and behave like.

The sempervivum are a case in point:

Over winter, these little beauties have been multiplying in the front garden. There hasn’t been any sunlight to speak of for the last couple of months but the garden is sheltered and reasonably dry (very dry in summer). So, they have been thriving.

In the long run, I hope that the front of the front garden will be covered in low-growing plants which are easy to maintain. Ideally, I would like them to be useful but I’m prepared to compromise on this point in view of its location. However, I understand that sempervivum is in fact edible, so who knows what might be on my plate if I get inundated with them!

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Hidden garlic

Yesterday, I didn’t have time for any gardening exploits. It was snowing, anyway – that slushy kind, which is an uncomfortable nuisance. However, before we got on the train to go dancing, I did take a photo of the garlic which I planted as bulbils the autumn before last.

Over the summer, it got completely swamped by butternut squash, chard, nasturtiums and poppies, so I couldn’t see it. In fact, I assumed that the bulbils had failed to germinate.

They then got trampled on. I’d had the washing line over this stretch of garden and the spot where the bulbils were was handy for placing my feet whilst hanging out the clothes.

So, it is a surprise to me that they have grown and seem to be doing fine. They are perhaps spaced too close together but I’ve nowhere to move them to, so they will now have to stay where they are.

I’m certainly not keen on getting a spade out today. My legs are feeling the result of two hours’ dancing yesterday afternoon. A colleague of mine had suggested we try 5Rhythms, as there was a family day for children along with adults.

The church hall we were in had the most wonderful ceiling and with the lighting as it got dark I can’t describe how happy I felt whirling round the floor.

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The currants can breathe now

One of the jobs on my garden list has been to remove the strawberry plants growing too close to the red and black currants. These strawberry plants seem to have been sucking the life out of the mint, so they have probably been having the same effect on the currants.

I’m not sure you will be able to tell the difference between the currants which have been in the ground for a couple of years, over one of the first hugel beds

and the ones I planted last autumn.

To my eye, though, the latter seem a lot healthier. This could of course be due to other factors such as more sun, being fed bokashi liquid or plain luck but it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Besides, getting outside for some fresh air and exercise was no bad thing for me. With the dark evenings, there’s been a lot more crochet than gardening recently.

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Blueberries or mint?

For weeks, I’ve been meaning to dig up the mint which has been swamping the blueberry bush. Now, I think the moment has past.

After finally sowing the sweet cicely seeds (kept a few aside to sow separately in case the ones in the ground fail) I got from Old Sleningford Farm last autumn, I felt inclined to carry on with some gardening. So, I had a look at the mint and saw that new shoots were coming through.

On balance, I think it would be best to leave the mint to continue growing now. Blueberries are great but they are hardly a native species. They are also more fickle. On the other hand, mint is native to Europe and it clearly isn’t as fussy, even if it didn’t produce the best leaves last year.

Another reason for leaving the mint be is that if it is growing now, I can pick it now. Just what I need for a little treat… I’ve been drinking dried lemon balm till it comes out my ears over the last few months and I feel I need a change.

Besides, I did get a handful of blueberries last year and would have eaten more if I had taken the trouble to rummage through the mint. Instead, I guess the birds had a small treat!

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An evening with Google!

How much do you like technology?

When all goes well, I love being able to do so much with my phone. Not least, it is great to be able to blog without having to switch my laptop on. In fact, I managed for a couple of years without a computer at home.

Phones, especially iPhones, seem so easy to use. However, my old phone is now needed by my daughter, so today I upgraded to the iPhone SE. I managed to set up the phone whilst still in town, so was very pleased, although there was also a slight anti-climax in having so little to do.

If only I had known. Calls, texts and emails, fine. Apps all needed to be updated. Apart from WordPress, except that I was now locked out. Horror of all horrors!

The problem arose because I had set up 2-step authentication in order to protect my blog sometime in the past. However, the Authenticator app, which generates the code I need for the second step,

no longer worked on the new phone. Not only did I need to update the app but, no doubt for security, I had to scan a QR code. Not exactly without its challenges, when the code was on the phone, so the camera couldn’t do a scan.

Thank goodness for iPads…. After yet more uploading, logging into accounts and flicking between screens I finally managed to do a scan and before I knew it I had authentication codes coming out my ears.

So, I can hardly claim no environmental destruction has arisen because of my need to access WordPress. Still, in the scheme of things, some of my other actions could count as carbon off-setting (e.g. over the last two weeks I have used public transport to get to and from work).

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