Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yesterday another express maintenance visit! We decided to tackle the herb bed. Actually it's not really one, it's the patch next to the shed where most people grow a few flowers or herbs or fruit. I had foolishly left a bramble there, thinking it might give fruit. Ah how we live and learn!! All it did was grow to gigantic proportions and rip us all to shreds everytime we went down the path. So yesterday, we got a wheelbarrow and a pair of secateurs and set to work. We pulled out loads of bindweed and dock and chopped the bramble up into manageable lengths. I also took the opportunity to cut back the lemon balm which is enormous. Eventually the bramble was cut back to a stump that I dug out (but i bet I see it reappear in spring! Next time I will rip it straight out!
Anyway we uncovered some mint, parsley and my lemon verveine has lots more space :-D Next spring I want to plant that area properly, putting some good soil in and planting more herbs like tarragon.
That didn't really take so long, so we then got back to work on the fruit bed. I pulled off the netting from the longest row, which was stuck down with bindweed and we weeded all those strawberry plants. Then I set up a stick with a plastic cup over the top to hold the netting in place in a more logical way. Next year I will build a frame I think. Of course still have to do the other three small beds, but it's a start. Next job will be putting down some more black plastic and establishing the runners in the ground. Might be tricky as my beds are not straight ha ha so I don't know how the extra ones are going to fit in. There are loads of runners, some of them even have their own fruit!!!
Looking tidier already, I then cut back lots of the grass that seemed to have popped up all over the place between the raspberries and goosegogs, leaving it all on the ground as mulch. Actually I think that this groundcover was not too bad as underneath the soil is cool and crumbly.
The physalis has grown to massive proportions!! Next year I get it will be bigger so I might have to cordon it off. It seems to repel weeds! I wonder what its secret is??
The lettuce I sowed from seed is doing OK:
Here you can see (clockwise from top left) Chives, some butterhead lettuce, a frisee, some radish going to seed, broccoli (a castaway) and more frisees and butterhs, then back next to teh chives is a little patch of rocket.
Last night I came back home with a bunch of chives (got them out from under all the grass!!), a huge bunch of rocket, a frisee lettuce, a handful of beans and two tiny broccoli heads. SO last night we ate a frisee salad with the 3 tiny toms from Tuesday, rocket and some chicken ham, then I made pasta with a sauce of turkey breast, broccoli, beans, and chives in a cream sauce. Smallest one picked out every single chive. There is just no pleasing some folk...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back down the lot yesterday for a bit of a dig. Biggest One helped me sow some late seeds, carrots, beets, radishes and the first lot of Mache (lamb's lettuce), also two seed beds for autumn lettuce, green oak leaf and frisee.

We tidied up a fair bit, raking out the dried weeds etc and filling a whole wheelbarrow full. Still loads of weeds though, how many can possibly grow in one plot??

We then started looking at the fruit bed which is a bloody mess. The kids weeded the raspberries a bit (fighting all the time :-( ) and I set to the strawberries. The weeds have massacred the netting! I will have to fix it up a bit. There are LOADS of runners! I cut a lot off in the summer but more apparently escaped my notice and they have even rooted. So I will now have to snip them off, lift them and make a new bed. Still that will fill in that corner nicely, as it had too much spare room up to the boundary so I got very weeded-down. Now I will have black plastic all the way to the edge, I will put some wood down to neaten off the fruit section.

Here's a pic of the rasps and the physalis which is big and seems to be cropping well. Patience, not ripe yet...

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yesterday I went to the plot to pull out the garlic. So strange. It had bulbed but the bulbs were tiny??? I don't know what to do with them. Someone suggested planting them for green garlic. Since I have plenty of room I am tempted to stick a row or two of the cloves back in the ground and see what happens.
I weeded and composted that plot and I am going to sow some last ditch root veg there, carrots, beets, spinach, some more fennel, a couple of lettuce seed beds if I have room and the first of the lamb's lettuce.
I am letting some of the rocket go to seed! I am told that it is easy to gather the seed so why not? Apparently you can eat the flowers too.
This afternoon, sowing plus a tidy up of the strawberry patch. It is terribly weedy and needs a good tidy up and a feed.

I want to get the runners tethered too, there are a few that I missed so I might as well take advantage now and get some free plants. :-D

I also found this very sweet site:
An English Garden
It has a sound list of typical flowers and plants found in English gardens with a sowing guide.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Only had time for a quick foray into the garden this weekend. TO my suprise, not all the tomato plants were dead but had continued to grow, unsupported and spreading out on the ground!! So I had to lift them all up and tie them to the stakes that were behind them (I had staked them all but nothing was tall enough to tie up before). Some have a few green fruit, others have flowers, so maybe I will get a few tomatoes after all. The Roma type seem hardier than the others.
The sunflowers are starting to fall over! They are massive, with heads about 30 cm in diameter.
I am hoping to get some seeds!! I was told to do this; wait till the back of the flower heads start to go yellow. Cut off the head and put a paper bag over it and hang it somewhere dry and warm. The seeds will fall off as they mature. I thought I would keep a few for next year (they are a bit expensive!!), keep some for eating (good for the home made bread) and leave at least two heads on the lot for the birds and mice. I have already seen a little field mouse one day in among the leeks so I guess they must hibernate somewhere in winter. Maybe I should consider putting a little stack of dead grass etc in a corner just for them?
As I will be able to get to the garden a bit during the week, my priority is to dig out the useless garlic and dig over that plot and make my last sowings for August, namely late carrots (pppfff most of my crop has been useless but you never know), radish, beets, cut and come again lettuce and the first of the lamb's lettuce. That will be sown progressively over the next two months for a winter crop, with a bit of luck.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hello! back again after a fairly long absence. Came back from two weeks holidays to find; it had still been raining here since I left :(
So I have three tomato plants still alive with a little bit of fruit on it.
This is the best one; not much to write home about
All the pumpkins, melons etc are dead, my courgette plants gives me one rotten fruit and one good one alternately, the strawberries are rotting on the plant as it is so wet. My garlic has not bulbed at all, so I will be harvesting and chucking it on the compost. I will try to plant some in autumn and over-winter it...
In good news, I picked about 2 kgs of beans which are delicious, I have lots of lettuce and the broccoli looks nearly ready to produce heads. I have nice fennel (still small but nice raw in salad), a few carrots, beetroots and the first parsnips!!! They smell gorgeous, about 30 cm long with a broad head (Guernesey demi-longs). These are the March/April sowings: The parsnips seeds I sowed about 3 weeks ago are sprouting nicely too.
And I may finally get some spinach! That has grown this time.
So to sum up, the autumn plants seem promising but the summer ones, well, just forget it.
Now wondering what else can I sow for a crop in autumn or winter? I am guessing that I can get some winter spinach in, my lamb's lettuce, maybe some more cabbage? there is plenty of room.
I guess I am disappointed by my first year but I now that the climate conditions are extraordinary so I don't want to remain pessimistic. At least I know what I want to plant next year and what I will be leaving out :D

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