Demise of the worm

This post is principally to give you the link to a recent article in the Independent, regarding the effect of microplastics on worms. Basically, it is not good news for worms and in turn it is not good news for us. If we don’t have worms doing their job in the soil, we will have less food.

So, from now on, I am going to cut any plastic out of my clothes before they go in the compost bin. More difficult is knowing where the hidden plastic might be. So, keeping poisons out of the garden is an ongoing battle.

At least the nettles are thriving. I’ve just been out to check, having been reminded that I saved a soup recipe, Persian Nettle Soup:

The recipe requires tofu, which I do happen to have. But will my daughter be pleased if it is diverted into soup instead of stir fry?

Posted in In the kitchen, soil management | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Stank Hall Barn

This Saturday, we visited another property on the Heritage Open Day list: Stank Hall Barn in the Morley area. It’s almost opposite the White Rose Centre and couldn’t have been a more different cultural experience.

As you can see in the above photo, the Medieval re-enactors who were at St Oswald’s in Methley, which we visited last week, were present at the Barn. This was a pleasant surprise and enabled me to learn a little about crafts such as Nålebinding

and weaving.

However, I was very sorry to learn about Leeds City Council being unhelpful in the preservation of the Barn. It desperately needs the support of a powerful patron to stop it being sold off as a wedding venue, closed off to the wider community.

Friends of Stank Hall Barn were not allowed to dig into the ground to make their garden. Hence, the raised beds.

Yet I understand that the wedding company wants to build houses elsewhere on the property, which may unearth the Victorian landfill site there.

Posted in Crafts, Days out | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Collecting runners

Earlier in the year there was an advert on Freegle requesting strawberry plants or runners. I replied to offer some of my runners in the autumn and today I duly dug out a bagful, ready for their recipient tomorrow.

The garden has been going quite wild in my current busy state. I’d assumed that over the last week of annual leave I would get down to work in it but I’ve ended up doing other things. However, having dipped my toe in the water (well, a strawberry plant I’d salvaged on another occasion and put in a pot), I feel ready to launch into more of it.

Notwithstanding the lack of gardening, I have been in the garden and therefore noticed the plant featured below. Once again, what can it be?

I’m assuming it’s classed as a weed but it is so pretty. Definitely a keeper!

Posted in forest garden, Gardening, Pond and bog garden | Tagged , | 9 Comments

National Food Strategy – Call for evidence

Twitter has come in useful again! Whilst scrolling through the tweets, I saw one from Hodmedod which introduced a consultation which Defra has set up.

The aim is to use evidence to inform a better food policy, which feeds all people nutritious food, grown in a sustainable way which is protective of wildlife, and helps both rural and urban economies.

They are open to suggestions from anyone, anywhere in the world, so if you have information which you believe would be useful please do respond:

Swillington Organic Farm

Posted in Good for the environment, Health | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Heritage Open Days

A bit late to the party, I was only recently introduced to Heritage Open Days, which are a ‘festival of history and culture’, according to the aforementioned website. In other words, they are an opportunity to be given a guided tour or see books and other treasures which are normally not available to view – and all for free.

Certainly, we experienced both at St Oswald’s Church in Methley, a village southeast of Leeds. In short, we learned about the Lancastrian presence in this part of the world, including the battle of Towton in 1461, as well as the building of the church and its artefacts. I also saw for the first time a man dressed in a full suit of armour and learned other aspects of life in the Middle Ages.

Medieval stained glass window

A number of other people were dressed in Medieval finery – or rather mostly peasant attire – and were displaying paraphernalia that would have been common at that time. I was particularly intrigued by the some spoons, which I took to be replicas made of plastic. However, they are actually made of cow horn.

Why don’t we use such now? Apart from being carved, at high temperatures horn can be moulded into all kinds of shapes (there was also a bowl made of it, remarkably found in a charity shop), so it is a useful material. And of course it must be naturally BPA free.

Posted in Crafts, Days out | 9 Comments

A gladioli in the bog garden

Earlier in the year, one of the other members of my Knit and Natter group gave me a plant for my bog garden. It had been in her garden but she couldn’t remember what it was.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched the flowerhead grow and realised that it must be a gladioli. And now I know what colour it is.

I guess my bog garden isn’t particularly boggy then. Very nice to see such a beautiful pink, though.

Posted in Pond and bog garden | Tagged , | 4 Comments

In order to see the soapwort…

I cleared away the rocket growing around it.

I had somehow not expected the soapwort to have flowers. I’d been thinking purely in terms of its potential as an alternative to soap. However, soap which also flowers seems a good deal to me!

Anyway, I’d originally intended to clear away the rocket which had overgrown in the bog garden as well

but I can still see the flowers on my baby hosta

and the honey bees are so happy on the rocket flowers, the plants have had a reprieve.

Another flower which has self-seeded and might take over the garden is lavender. Here is a patch which I also discovered, once the rocket had been removed.

The poppies are still merrily flowering away round the garden but in small quantity, so they are not overwhelming. Perhaps the beans are keeping this batch under control.

Posted in Gardening, Pond and bog garden | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

A baby squeaks

It never occurred to me when I bought my house ten years ago that I would become obsessed by pigeons. However, there we have it….

Yesterday, when I looked out into the garden, I noticed one such sunbathing by the Jerusalem artichokes. It was so laid back it continued in its supine position even when I went out to water the tomato plant in the pot near the back door.

Not quite so happy was a baby/fledging. As I was hanging washing out this morning, I saw the bird pecking by the back door. When it saw me approaching it started to wail and stood frozen, clearly unsure what to do.

In the end, it made a run for it along the side of the fence. Quite how it had got there I don’t know because I didn’t see it fly in. What I did see, though, was an adult pigeon arrive and then seemingly upon seeing me depart again.

Anyway, I am glad to see the resident pigeon isn’t the only one visiting the garden at the moment. There will be lots of food round about but I have missed them recently.

Posted in Wildlife | 2 Comments

Out with the step ladders

I had been thinking of allowing the birds to eat all the crab apples but when I saw there were some huge apples at the top of the tree I just had to help myself to them. And for the first time I needed to get my step ladders out in order to reach the desired target.

Before long, I may have to invest in a bigger set of ladders but as is so often the case that is a decision to make another day. For there is the ongoing concern over the resident pigeon.

My neighbour stopped me yesterday to talk about the pigeon. She too has noticed that something is up and thinks it may have broken its wing. Her plan therefore was to call the RSPCA, although whether she will have been able to enlist their help of not I don’t yet know.

In the meantime, the poor pigeon continues to sit around – on constant alert against predation. It clearly cannot fly – attempts look more like it’s practising for the long jump at an athletics event. At least it’s got a pond to bath in and drink from and plenty of windfalls. I’ve also spread sesame seeds at the back of the garden, which has become quite compacted from avian feet pacing up and down on it, and my neighbour has put out a dish of pumpkin seeds.

It was possibly still eating the crab apples last night after dark. I feel as though I can’t go out in case I scare it, so had left putting something in the bin behind the shed till it was dark, only to disturb the bird by the tree. Perhaps it’s actually sleeping there, which is hardly safe – I’m surprised no cats have been sighted recently but thankful that this is so. And long may it last, in the hope that our feathered friend makes a full and rapid recovery.

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The ups and downs of the tomato plants

Earlier in the summer, I reported that my tomatoes were struggling. Then the plant in the pot near the pond leapt ahead and is now laden with tomatoes.

Unfortunately, it has been somewhat neglected and apart from being parched it has been badly bashed by the wind. Also, some of the tomatoes seem to have blossom end rot.

On the other hand, the plant in the raised bed, which seemed to be dying after producing one tomato, has suddenly started to grow again. So, with any luck, it might just produce more fruit before the first frosts. Even green fruit would be most welcome.

Posted in Gardening, raised bed | Tagged | 15 Comments