Reaping What I Sow

July 18, 2017

One of the great pleasures of growing your own veg is being able to magic up a meal out of the garden when you suddenly remember that you were supposed to have gone shopping for a vital ingredient of the meal you had actually planned.

beetroot harvest

Of course the meal in question is usually some variation on the theme of ‘random veg frittata’, but this is usually pretty delicious, so I’m not complaining.

In fact, though I’ll undoubtedly come to regret saying this, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the veg plot so far. Despite radical neglect from me, and the attention of the hares, it does seem as if the whole no-dig and plenty of organic matter approach has worked remarkably well. It’s all a bit unruly and I can barely get to my peas to harvest them but they are growing better than they did in the old plot.

lush growth in the veg plot

As long as I can find them while they’re still sweet enough to eat straight from the pod, then that counts as a win. Peas rarely make it to the kitchen in this household.

peapod

And my neglect of some of the wilder corners of the rest of the garden has also reaped an unexpected reward. I decided to leave some of the wild raspberry canes when I noticed they were producing fruit, and as a bonus, one of them is producing yellow raspberries, which are absolutely delicious.

Now I just have to work out how to incorporate them into the rest of the garden…


Turning Left in July

July 17, 2017

garden open sign

I do like it when plan and the weather forecast come together. As regular readers will know I am trying to do a new route on my bike each month so I was interested to note another garden was due to open this weekend – not too far away, along a lovely little road for cycling, and crucially advertising tea and cake for visitors. It was described as a hillside garden, which interested me because our garden is on a side of a hill too, and I hoped to pick up some tips for creating a more sheltered space.

turning left

The forecast – St Swithin notwithstanding – played ball on Sunday so off I set in gorgeous sunshine. Stopping for a few refreshments on the way (the wild raspberries have been incredible this year and I spent a good few minutes just shovelling these into my face. I also encountered some peach coloured ones which were even more gorgeous but I had scarfed the lot before I thought to take a photo).

wild raspberries

I have cycled some of this road before, but never from the new house, so it was a satisfying mix of route finding and rediscovering old favourites. It was a fairly gentle uphill gradient, and into a stiffish headwind, but I knew I’d get all that back in spades on the way home. And besides, I was going to have to earn my cake.

road ahead in July

It was only as I found the turnoff to the place itself that I remembered the ‘hillside’ bit. And noticed the road switchbacking up the side of the hill in question. And added one more stretch of road to the short list of hills that have defeated me in the area … still, it was worth it for the added kudos among the garden visiting crowd of having cycled there. And the slice of cake the size of my head that I ate with my tea.

hillside garden

Anyway, it turns out the answer to mixing a hillside site with sheltered spots is to have about two acres to play with and plant lots of trees. I shall just have to keep visiting gardens until I find one that’s a bit more to our scale.

garden vista

More garden porn below.

veg plots

I always make a beeline for the veg plots on these visits

sundial

steps and flowers

Next month will be a bigger adventure, with more cake, if all goes to plan. And the month after that too …


Just Plants in the Wrong Place

July 7, 2017

With what feels like an infinite amount of gardening to be done, I’m taking a pragmatic approach towards what is a weed and what is to be tolerated at least for now.

Buddleia

Buddleia for instance: wildlife friendly, covered in flower spikes and currently giving off a rather gorgeous gentle scent as I pass one bush right by the path. OK, so I probably don’t need dozens of them dotted around the garden, but for now they can stay.

foxgloves

And foxgloves, objectively, are rather splendid with their huge flower spikes. A bank of them gently dancing in the breeze and catching the evening sun is exactly the sort of effect I’m going for in the garden. Just because they also grow in every hedgerow is no reason to turn my nose up at them, although I may try and introduce more white ones over time.

Mimulus

Mimulus can apparently be a bit of a pest and an invasive, but for now it’s clumping itself rather elegantly around Mostly,* the fine piece of garden statuary that for some reasons our predecessors left behind.

oriental rhubarb

On the other hand, these are not ginormous dock flowers, as my mother thought but the seed heads of our oriental rhubarb which tower above everything else. If I’m absolutely honest, I’d probably rather have the culinary kind but it is rather architectural in an ‘oh my God what is that?’ sort of way

Lychnis

And this lychnis was a gift from a neighbour’s garden and I can’t get enough of it.

I am slowly hatching plans for what should go where, but it will all take time. So for now, I’m managing with what I’ve got and hoping that it doesn’t all get out of hand.

* Because she’s mostly armless


First Find your Veg Plot

July 6, 2017

We needed potatoes tonight, and the first of the earlies were likely to be ready. There was just one problem …

overgrown veg

I’ve been neglecting the veg plot recently, it’s safe to say. There’s just too much other garden to be getting on with, not to mention all the other things I’ve been doing and so I’ve been letting the hares keep on top of the weeding, without, it must be said, a great deal of success.

Fortunately, most of what’s in the plot this year is stuff that can just get on with things themselves, like broad beans

broad beans

And potatoes of course.

First potatoes

First crop of new potatoes. Very satisfying

Mental note to self: next year, plant the earlies right by the entrance to the plot, instead of deep in the back corner.

veg plot found

By tradition, all home grown veg is nothing less than delicious.

potatoes being cooked

And these were no exception.

 


Secret Garden

June 26, 2017

So the garden’s come on a bit in recent weeks …

… just kidding. I was actually visiting the local open gardens weekend, billed as the ‘hidden gardens’ of a nearby hamlet, seeking inspiration or at least a plant sale, or failing that home baking.

I got all three, although the inspiration was of the ‘distant aspiration’ rather than the ‘oh I could do that’ sort.
vista with wheelbarrow

Note the wheelbarrow left at just the perfect angle to give the vista the ‘real actual person’s garden’ feel rather than ‘Chelsea show garden’. It takes years to learn how to do that …

mats on steps

This is a good idea for slippery stone steps though. That I can probably manage.

Back in my own garden, I am tackling the paving stones out the back.

paving stones

Note the artfully angled tools to make it clear this has been done by pure hard labour, not Roundup

There is a vague plan to fill the cracks with sand and/or wood ash before they turn back into this.

paving stones vegetation

You never know, it might work.


How Does your Garden Grow?

June 22, 2017

Well now, funny you should ask that.

The plants that just sort of get on with it, like the potatoes and the broad beans, are just getting on with it.

broad beans and potatoes

The bits that regularly have hares sitting on them have hare-shaped gaps in the planting. I don’t know whether to be relieved or offended that they aren’t bothering to eat my beetroot…

beetroot with gaps

And one thing I have learnt since moving here is that beautifully landscaped sandstone terrace walls effectively double as high-density housing for slugs. We were out enjoying the last gasp of the longest day last night when I noticed how many of them were out chewing my plants. Time for some remedial action – fortunately slug beer brews up pretty quick and they don’t seem that fussy.

slugs in slug trap

Oh and up close, clematis flowers are rather fabulous

clematis flower

 


Baselining

May 31, 2017

With the other half finally home, and things slightly easing off on the bonkers busy front, it’s been time to start getting to grips with the gardening backlog. Today, I managed an hour or so listening to the radio (PM is as ever the only news programme that’s bearable during election time, indeed increasingly the only news programme that’s bearable full stop) and planting out my leek seedlings while the other half tackled the grass.

leek seedlings

I’m putting this year’s veg growing down to establishing a baseline – things can only improve from here, effectively. Especially as I discovered this morning that the Small Emergency Backup Hare is using the potato patch as its current chilling spot. Clearly my hare defences need to be exchanged for something less rustic and more agricultural, possibly involving chicken wire and/or baler twine.

veg plot at the end of May

Meanwhile, the Large Main Hare and another Large Main Hare appear to be working on the stock of Small Emergency Backup Hares, although Mrs Main Hare doesn’t seem to be too keen right at the moment. Yesterday, as I headed off on my bike to Bigtown they were so busy chasing eachother round the farmyard at the bottom of the hill they were actually running towards me instead of away – I can only hope they’re a bit more wary around the cars. And I’ve discovered that, for an animal with a reputation for the uncanny and the magical, when hares get frisky with each other they’re actually pretty heavy footed (especially when you’re all alone in the house and wondering what on earth is thundering around outside). Humans clearly aren’t the only ones to totally lose their cool in the presence of the opposite sex…

frisky hares