Monday, 24 September 2012

Garden 2012 no 20.

Garden 2012, no 20

A brief update, the seasons are changing, the temperature has dropped and the nights are longer. When I wake up there is a chill in the air, we still have nice days, in fact we have some extraordinarily nice days for this time of year, we have had a true Indian Sumner. But however warm and sunny the day, by late afternoon its over, the shadows are long, the temperature drops, the sun lowers, the light begins to fade and the sky turns red.
I spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday, which as it turns out was exactly the right thing to do because today it’s too cold, wet and windy to even think about gardening. The wind has been getting higher all evening and now I can hear it howling around the houses, slamming gates shut and bouncing bins down the street. When the weather is like this I’m so grateful to be warm and dry indoors. 
Yesterday was different; it was a perfect gardening day. The little strip of grass around the vegetable plot was overgrown and took forever to trim back with my hand mower. Most of the veg is finished now, I still have a few onions to dig and the strawberry runners need to be sorted, but virtually every thing else is gone except the pest deterrent geraniums.

 I’ve hardly been out since surgery and things are quite neglected out there. Something I will have to do soon is empty out one of the compost bins, sift and store the compost and make the bin ready for the next lot. 
I have so much garden waste lying in heaps around the garden I do need to get it sorted before the temperature plummets too far and it all freezes.  I even tidied up the shed, and while emptying every thing out, came across my old bike right at the back. 

I’ve not ridden a bike in years, as a young person I used to cycle every where. I should get this old bike serviced and start using it again, cycling is supposed to be excellent exercise and I’m sure a couple of new tires and some brake cables wouldn’t cost too much. Maybe cycling should be something else to plan for my retirement.This is the amount of shallots and beetroot I have bottled so far, the shallots have finished bow but there is more beetroot still in the ground.  

My next kitchen project will be to make herb oil. I’m still drying the bag full of rosemary and yesterday I lifted the garlic from the ground. I think garlic and rosemary oil sounds like an excellent idea. Oh…………..and yesterday I saw my first robin of the year, he sat in the apple tree and watched while I worked.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Garden 2012 no 19.

Garden  2012 no 19

I’ve missed being out in my garden but things are almost back to normal and I’ve spent a couple of days out there last week.
The seasons are changing and its time to start tidying up and sorting out ready for next year. All around here the fields are full of hay bales, the tractors are out in force, and once the hay is lifted the earth is ploughed. I like this time of year, it’s a good time to be in the garden. Already the Rowan berries are on the trees and the leaves begin to yellow.
The most noticeable thing in my garden at the moment is the geraniums. They are planted every year as a pest deterrent, and at the end of the year, once they have done their job, they bloom. Its ironic really, by the time they are blooming it’s almost time to lift them and bring them indoors. I don’t like having geraniums indoors because, although they bloom virtually all winter and are very pretty, they smell horrible. But if I left them outside they would all die and I would be buying new plants every year. If I ever get myself a greenhouse they would over winter out there, but until then, I have to put up with the smell indoors.

As I harvest the spinach, the lettuce and the last of the radishes, I sift the compost, add some chicken pellet fertiliser and organic feed and store it ready for spring. I’ve been doing this for so long now the soil I’ve salvaged together with the compost I’ll sift from the composter means I’ll not be buying big bags of compost in the spring. Being self sufficient in compost for the containers will make a huge difference to the finances, and as I’m retiring next year this is exactly the right time to reach this point.
I left the last container of rocket and mustard greens to go to seed and I think I have enough seeds to at least start growing in the spring.
I intended to grow two crops of potatoes this year but I didn’t lift the earlies in time to get another crop in, but rather than waste the space, I sowed a few carrots. These may be left to over winter until about February when I will need to prepare for next years potatoes.
The herbs picked up after all the rain and sunshine we had last month. I was surprised at the size of the herb harvest. I cut far more than I am ever going to need and now I have to think about what to do with it. I think I may well just freeze as much as I can because it keeps well if frozen and takes very little space in the freezer. I like to be prepared for every eventuality and I guess even the herb harvest could fail one year.
Rosemary had the haircut of her life. She was literally taking over, she looked more like a Christmas tree than a small rosemary shrub. I didn’t throw any of the cuttings away but I’m not at all sure what to do with it all, there is so much of it.
There is an awful lot of garden waste too. I was going to put it all in the garden waste bin to be taken away. At least that way it would eventually end up as good organic garden compost, But I decided to wait until I have taken this years compost out of the composter and see haw much I can compost down myself.
And so finally, yesterday evening, I ended up with a kitchen table full of assorted herbs, a few spring onions, a couple of packets of seeds and the biggest bag of rosemary I have ever seen. 


This morning my whole house smells of rosemary. I also picked all of the lavender and placed it head down in one of the grandchildrens sea side buckets, and sure enough, this morning most of the little flower heads have dropped off and are sitting in the bottom of the bucket. I usually pick some of the tansy flowers and keep them indoors over the winter but this year I was too late. They had all died off while I have been stuck indoors. But I gave the tansy bush a bit of a haircut too and I’m left with a big yellow bin full of tansy cutting which is supposed to be a natural insect deterrent for the house. I’m sure I will find a use for it somewhere. 

The question is..... what am I going to do with this???

Friday, 7 September 2012

Garden 2012 no18.

Garden 2012 no 18

Oh my poor garden. Hospital says I can now ‘resume normal activities’ (while taking care) and the eye is healing nicely. Therefore; this weekend is going to be a gardening weekend. I’m still getting fresh spinach leaves every couple of days and they are good either steamed as part of a hot meal or fresh as part of a salad.

 My lettuce is almost gone, I’ve another two or three and then that’s it. I am still picking spinach leaves, the last of the nasturtium leaves and the last of the spring onions to make up a bowl of salad every couple of days and I have the last of the shallots drying out ready to be spiced and pickled.
I’m a bit upset about the lavender and the tansy. I usually make up bowls of potpourri for the house with these. Unfortunately this year they flowered and died of in the couple of weeks I’ve been unable to get out there. I’m quite cross with myself for leaving them, they were ready to be cut a few days before I went into hospital but I decided to leave them until that weekend. Now I wish I had harvested them when I had the chance. But at least these will flower again next year and there is no real harm done. The more lasting damage is likely to be around the edge of the garden in amongst the wild flowers and hedgerow. I’ve always been very careful about removing deep rooting invasive weeds as they appeared. Particularly the thistles, dandelions, and those big tall dock leaves, they all have roots that quickly go deep and are a real problem to get out. I’ve taken a walk around the edge of the garden and there they all are, happily growing, spreading and depriving my plants of space and nutrition. This weekend it will be a war on those weeds. Its not even that I have any particular grudge against these plants, they are all part of the natural habitat and, in their own way are quite attractive, its just that left unchecked the garden would be full of these and little else. 
Another regret is the way my herb collection has gone to seed and is past its best for harvesting. But I still have quite a lot of frozen herbs collected last year and if I cut the herbs back now they should all grow again next year and I’ll be able to collect them then. I bought Mace for the first time this year and didn't even get to save a little. It smelt wondefull, harvesting my first Mace will be something to look forward to next year.

The dainty little purple flower growing in the midst of chaos is…….actually I don’t know what it is. I think it was part of the mixed wild flower seeds I sprinkled there. As you can see.....the wind was getting up and the little flowers were waving wildly in the wind.

This yellow flower is another attractive but unknown addition to the garden. It has grown tall and flowered in the couple of weeks I’ve been away from the garden, and now I’m busy looking up pictures of yellow flowers and trying to identify it. 

This is something I am pleased with. I brought back a whole load of Mullen seeds from my last visit to my sister and this is where I sprinkled them. At this point I’m not sure if these new plants are self seeded Digitalis (foxglove) or, if some of the Mullen seeds have started to grow.  To my non-expert eye, Mullen and Foxglove look too similar to decide, but which ever it is, I’m happy with it.