Good Enough Gardening

September 17, 2021

Looking back through the blog this past year, there does seem to be a bit of a theme of garden neglect (interspersed with frantic catch up efforts from time to time). Despite this neglect (or perhaps because of it?), although the garden looks pretty shaggy from most angles, it does actually seem to be producing a surprising amount of veg, which is the main point after all.

vegetable plot in September

It may just be the good summer weather we’ve had but we’ve got French beans – usually a tricky crop – coming out of our ears, as well as continuing mangetout supplies and all the chard we’d care to eat, and then some. And the fennel, which has always been a bit marginal and tend to bolt, clearly enjoys being planted at the last minute and left to get on with things. I even threw a few random carrots into their midst, also at the last minute, which appear to be doing well. Perhaps it’s actually true that planting them amidst a strong smelling crop like fennel protects them from the carrot fly.

fennel growing

Even the gardeny bit which has been even more neglected looks almost, well, like a garden from the right angle. Crucially, this is the angle from which you view it from the kitchen window, which is often the only angle I get to see it at on many days. That, and when dashing out to the veg plot to desperately try and keep on top of the bean output…

Garden in September

Indeed, it was while glancing out of the kitchen window that I noticed a new flower blooming. My hibiscus, which was a moving in gift when we bought the house, and which has spend the subsequent five years either being eaten by hares or sulking, has produced its first bloom. I can’t take any credit for it, other than not actually giving up on it and grubbing it out. Maybe a bit of benign neglect does have its gardening merits after all.

Hibiscus flower

Meanwhile any good bean recipes you might have would be gratefully received …

Grassing Up

August 8, 2015

There is some gardening advice which seems to make perfect sense when you read it on the internet, but which when you go and try and put it into practice suddenly starts making a lot less sense. Like earthing up fennel bulbs: sounds great in practice, blanching a vegetable to keep it tender by excluding the light, all very sensible.

And then you go and look at your fennel and it all becomes a lot less clear

partially earthed-up fennel

Fennel bulbs aren’t really bulbs, they are at the base of the stalk, and they’re a few inches tall. I don’t know about anybody else’s soil – maybe if you had a solid clay it would be different – but the only way I could see to earth them up would be to bury the whole bed in an extra four inches of soil, and I didn’t have that amount of soil or compost just lying about.

After scratching my head for a bit and attempting to pile soil up around the bulbs anyway and watching it just trickle down the sides, I remembered another bit of advice on fennel cultivation, which was to mulch the bulbs with grass clippings to keep the soil moist and stopping them from bolting. Now keeping our soil moist isn’t generally a problem around here, but we do have plenty of grass clippings so in a stroke of genius, or possibly madness, I have used that instead. Half of my fennel bulbs (in the spirit of experimentation) are now cosily tucked up under a blanket of grass clippings, half are toughing it out on their own. Assuming they stay that way given the amount of wind we’ve had recently – and that they survive the attentions of the rabbits (which are still turning up their noses at the now-bolting lettuce and currently concentrating on the kale) we shall see whether it has made the blindest bit of difference.

mulched fennel

purple jalapenoIn other news, the other half has harvested his first chilli (purple jalapeno, if you’re wondering). It has not yet been eaten, as I think we’re a bit scared of it, but it does look rather splendid. It had better be good as this will be the first of many … Recipes, preferably those for the faint of heart, appreciated in the comments.

Hop Off You Frog

September 8, 2014

Being part three of an occasional series in which I usher common British herpetofauna off the road for their own safety…

I almost ran this one over, as it was sitting right where I was about to cycle, looking like a clump of organic matter, of which we have an abundance on the surface of our roads at the moment. At the last moment I realised it was a large frog and swerved and then went back to have a look and try and encourage it to sit somewhere which didn’t have vehicles driving along it at regular if not exactly frequent intervals.

common frog

It was quite reluctant to move at first – I did wonder if it was actually dead, until I got my phone out to take a picture and it decided enough was enough and hopped off, meaning my road safety duties were at least less prolonged than last time. Why it couldn’t do that with a bicycle bearing down on it, I have no idea. But then we already knew the frogs around here had no road sense whatsoever.

fennel bulb

In other news, I have apparently successfully grown some fennel, although it’s only now that I realise I should have been earthing it up (and some has bolted). Send recipes. Bearing in mind that we’ve only got the one …