Category Archives: Garden

Garden in late February

Things are definitely greening up.  But unlike previous months February has been wet so it’s practically impossible to do anything outside. Even in the polytunnel and greenhouse I have been slow enough getting things going. I only planted the potatoes in the polytunnel last week. I have gone for ‘Charlotte’ as they did well for me again last year.

I’ve planted salad crops and the first of these are beginning to germinate.  Over wintered broad beans got some kind of dieback a few weeks ago so I have had to start afresh. So no early broadbeans this year!

The comfrey is coming on well both inside and outside and perennials are starting to show new growth too. I collected wild foxglove seed last autumn and these have germinated well. I overwintered them in the greenhouse and have put them outside to harden off. I did the same with Ragged Robin seed and have already planted some of these plug plants into the meadow.

The daffodils have been battered a bit by storm Doris and the continuing wet and windy weather, but they are doing their best. Jemima ii is sitting on eggs.  I must say I am impressed with her persistent as she decided to make her nest outside and has endured all sorts of weather including the storm! I had always thought domestic ducks were not good sitters but she is certainly proving me wrong, at least for now. But I am not counting my ducks before they hatch!

 

 

 

 

Jack Frost

We have had an exceptionally mild October. It has had it’s advantages as we were still harvesting a few beans and courgettes in the last couple of weeks, but on the other side some of the leeks have started to go to seed! This morning we woke to our first proper frost; plants were transformed into sugar-coated candy!

Forest Garden – pros and cons

One of my reader’s, Helen from Silverbells, asked if I would do an update on our forest garden as I describe on Murtagh’s Meadow about page. Really the forest gardening I leave to my husband, while I concentrate on the vegetable patch, and the flower garden, though it doesn’t stop me using the produce.

To quote the Agroforestry Trust in the UK , forest gardening is a designed agronomic system based on trees, shrubs and perennial plants. The idea being that you try and re-create a sustainable natural forest with all it’s complex product producing layers. So food products may include fruits, nuts, leaves, and possibly medicinal plants and spices. In addition, you may have plants that produce fodder for animals or resources such as bean poles, wood for fuel and so on.

From our point of view it has been a bit of a struggle. To start with you are constantly battling with weeds and in our case grass, and until we get some kind of canopy cover this will continue. So any low growing shrubs have really struggled to get a foot hold. And  even plants such as raspberries, which are naturally a woodland edge plant, struggle to keep going. Perhaps, if we had more time (this is supposed to be a low maintenance form of gardening) it would be better, because in reality you’d need to be out every few days cutting the grass back from spring right into late autumn.

Somethings have done well, such as the chokeberries. But then the birds come along and eat them all before they are even ripe!!! We have Nepalese raspberries which are good ground cover. They certainly are, and they try to take over. What is more I have yet to find any fruit – though the carder bees do seem to appreciate the flowers.

The cobnut shrubs look good and are healthy but we have yet to get more than a handful of nuts. The nuts we did grow this year were nearly all empty and those that had fallen to the ground has been opened by mice (but I wonder if they found them empty too?). Though this coming year we should have some very decent bean poles.

The slugs loved the bark of the Szechuan pepper (a substitute for black pepper) and ring barked it a couple of times before we put it in a pot.

The autumn olive flowered but did not set fruit this year, but there were some fruit last year (see photo). We had a good crop of sea buckthorn which again are thriving (though last year did not crop so well). And this is the first year we have had quinces (a grand total of six!).

In general, success has been better with the more traditional orchard trees, apples, plums and to lesser extent pears. Having a number of varieties seems to be the key, as not all well fruit well every year.

In terms of work, you need to be prepared initially to do a lot of maintenance. And it is certainly trial and error with what will crop well in a given year.

Harvest Melody

September is here and the garden year is beginning to wind down. Despite our wet summer we have had reasonable crops – warmer temperatures than last summer probably helping.

We’ve been enjoying juicy Victoria plums and Beauty of Bath apples (an early variety).

Victoria plum

Victoria plum

Many of the apple trees have cropped well and we are looking forward to tasting them all. I see each apple as having its own melody; smell, taste, texture are all different.

Pears have not done well this year – the few we have are covered in scab and are now beginning to crack. But it is the first year we have had Japanese Quince (only six though!).

In the vegetable plot, beans have done well. Garlic definitely benefited from being planted last October. Cabbages have thrived in the damp conditions. Squashes are few and far between and onions which I planted late are understandably small! All and all not too bad a harvest though.