The only tomato

I enjoyed the first tomato from the garden for lunch. It started growing on a short and spindly plant in the shed and promptly ripened on the vine, once it was planted outside in the raised bed.

However, the plant itself has not grown since the move and recently lost its bottom leaves. So, I now wait with bated breath to see whether it has been growing roots and will have a spurt towards autumn.

Fortunately, I do have another tomato plant. This, too, took some time to get growing but now it is quite a bush and will hopefully soon be more than just a mass of green.

It’s a bit lop-sided but doesn’t seem to mind the parsley growing with it in the pot or the evening primrose growing alongside.

Posted in Gardening, raised bed | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The great sheep debate

For many years, beef was criticised as the most environmentally unfriendly meat but there appeared to be little mention of mutton or lamb. Now, there has been a surge in concern because of the methane sheep produce.

I have my reservations about sheep-farming, based on the destruction of the North York Moors, which I have written about previously. Suffice to say, I would like to see more trees in the said area – but I can see that there are benefits to sheep as well.

I’ve tried looking on the internet for information about the benefits of using sheep’s fleece in the garden and have found almost nothing. One woman in Sweden has been mulching her crops with the stuff as it apparently both helps water retention and prevents water logging. Elsewhere I have learned that fleece contributes nitrogen to the soil and that molluscs don’t like it.

I’ve now made a mat with the loom my dad and I made last year, which was a quick and easy procedure. Except that I had managed to felt the fleece, so it looks like quite a bit of it will be going on the garden as mulch.

Not only therefore might the sheep mitigate their flatulence by enabling more plants to grow, which absorb carbon, but I’d have thought that busying myself with a non-mechanical loom and felt would have had a smaller environmental impact than say watching TV or playing golf. In other words, I wonder if this data is taken into consideration when impact calculations are made?

Posted in Crafts, Good for the environment, soil management | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

A gooseberry bush

With it being warm weather, in spite of the recent rain I felt there was no harm in giving the pots and the compost bin a watering from the water I’ve used today to clean one of the sheep’s fleeces I got from friends. So, I was merrily pouring away when my neighbour popped her head round the end of our adjoining fence and asked if I would like her gooseberry bush.

As you can see, it’s in a rather large tub at the moment, so we had to drag it round to my side of the fence and fortunately there is not only a space in front of the bins for it but I only take them out when they are full. In other words, I won’t have to move it too often while I prepare the ground for it.

Also, the bush produces red gooseberries, which is exactly what I had been aiming to get for the garden. You may just be able to see one or two of the fruits which remain from this year’s crop. So, it is definitely viable and hopefully will respond well to being in the ground.

Posted in forest garden | Tagged , | 19 Comments

A bee for my apples

Before I start my post proper, I would like to report that I have been able to make a partial fix of the comments function on my blog. It seems that WP has introduced a new piece of software for publishing blog posts and, while it is available online, it doesn’t work (for me at least) through the app.

So, yesterday I added the comments box to the posts where it had been missing but you still might not see it if you are reading on your WP app. Anyway, it would be interesting to get feedback on this, so that I can continue to investigate if necessary.


The first day of August and I’m excited. I used to feel sad at the advent of autumn but when I felt the first tinges of autumn in the air earlier, I was pleased.

Look at these tresses of apples. I’m going to thin them out shortly, so that the remaining apples can grow a decent size. I’ve never seen so many on this tree before and, apart from the odd one which has gone mouldy, they look a healthy bunch.

The downside of achieving codling moth-free apples, however, is that the pheromone traps also kill other insects, including bees. There was unfortunately one honey bee on the trap I replaced today.

Almost all of the insects you can see above are male codling moths. Officially, this number suggests an infestation but I am not going start using chemicals, even if they exist for such a pest. In any case, the apples themselves suggest the trap is sufficient.

So, will I use the pheromone trap again next year? Yes, I think I will but I will start a bit later – the trap wasn’t needed until May, whereas I put it up in April, when it only caught other insects which weren’t a threat. Hopefully after that, I will be able regulate the situation without the need to trap bees in order to have apples.

I wonder if it was possible to save orchards before the days of pheromone traps?

Posted in forest garden | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Bread bread bread

With my daughter at her gymnastics club all day and me with a weekly bus ticket, I decided to investigate The Real Junk Food Project Kindness Warehouse in Wakefield. Having got some interesting food from the Fuel for Schools Project run by the same charity when my daughter was at primary school, I was intrigued to see if I would have the same experience at their warehouse.

In case anyone has missed previous posts on the subject of TRJFP, this is an organisation that collects food being thrown out by food stores and sells them on a pay-as-you-feel basis either in one of their cafes (where they make up meals), at the warehouse or in schools (as mentioned above). The idea is to save it from going to waste and feed people who may otherwise go hungry.

So, this morning off I set with a sturdy jute bag in one hand and my crochet in the other. The buses worked out well and in a little under an hour I was at the right bus stop to walk the five minutes to the warehouse. Except that I misread my map and ended up walking for a good half an hour more than I needed. Thankfully, when I eventually decided to phone TRJFP to get directions, my journey once more became a breeze.

Feeling a little hot and thirsty by this point, I was hopeful of finding something to drink but sadly there only appeared to be unlabelled bottles of something that looked like urine. Probably apple juice but I decided I wasn’t that thirsty after all.

The next disappointment was that there were shelves and shelves of bread. I had heard from Mark Warner, who runs Plate to Plate Compost, a company that collects food waste in Leeds and then sells it as, well, compost, that much of the food wasted is, in fact, bread. So it should come as no surprise that I was confronted with such an array of the stuff at the Kindness Warehouse.

Fortunately, there were also a few fruit and veg, so I took as much as I thought we would use in the next couple of days. And then as I was about to leave in came some food which made up for the unintended walk and original disappointment: sausages.

I’m really pleased that the warehouse was not full to the brim with all manner of foodstuff, as it suggests the waste stream is being managed more effectively than perhaps once was. Certainly, I have noticed that food in the reduced aisles at supermarkets goes quickly and in some outlets there doesn’t appear to be as much as there used to.

But will I be visiting the Kindness Warehouse again? Yes, as the food there does need to be eaten if possible. And now I know where exactly it is, I won’t be so hot and bothered when I arrive. I’ll also take my water bottle with me.

However, much as it is a shame that so much bread will possibly end up in landfill, I won’t be filling my bag with that. Apart from my preference for bread of the home-made variety, there ought to be a more efficient process for avoiding such waste across the country – buying it stale is only dealing with part of the problem.

Posted in Days out, Good for the environment, soil management | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A flowery corner

For what seems like years now, I’ve despaired over the productivity in the area just beyond the pond. And this year it looks like it could be not only a food basket but be a feast of flowers.

Aside from the rose bush, which improves in leaps and bounds, a sly poppy remains after I have removed the rest. This is accompanied by other self-seeders: marigolds and fennel. Then to make my heart sing even more, the chives have got their second wind and the globe artichoke has got four true leaves and is looking increasingly robust.

Hopefully, next time I take a photo in this region, there will be a picture of a magnificent globe artichoke. In the meantime, I leave you with two self-seeded ‘weeds’. The first is fat hen, whose seeds are said to be like quinoa, being after all in the same family.

The other is undoubtedly in the carrot family. I have no idea which specific plant it is, though, and will not be trying this without several positive identifications.

Posted in edible flowers, herbs | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Browning ferns

It seems the ferns by the pond are suffering:

You can’t see the brown leaves terribly well from the angle of the above photo but there are a few. No doubt the heat this last week will have caused them some discomfort and in the afternoons there is no shade to protect them.

All things being equal, the pond is not in the perfect position from the point of view of water retention and ferns but it was the only place I could put it, as the shadier end of the garden already had trees in it. Besides, I want to enjoy looking at it.

However, with the change in the weather to cool and rainy, the ferns should pick up and in time I hope they will get more shade from the apple trees closer to the pond. There is also a ‘self-seeded’ fern of some description on the other side of it. As yet I have no idea what variety it is – possibly bracken and I’m not sure how it can have got there considering ferns aren’t propagated by seed.

Pity about the grass with the fern. I will have to leave it for now so as not to disturb the fern’s roots.

The mysteries of nature continue and it is delightful to see the garden developing of its own accord.

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