Category Archives: Garden

Creating a garden

Why do we feel compelled to create gardens? My own garden has not so much being created but its journey has been an organic process of gradually fitting in what I wanted from a garden, around what was already there. The very first thing we did was fence off a vegetable plot at the same time the house was being built, as that was a priority for me. We started with fence but planted the beech hedge to provide extra shelter, and that is now well grown.

 

Second was the wildlife pond. It took a bit longer to complete but now it looks like it has always been there.

 

Over the years we have acquired a tunnel, planted more fruit trees, and the wildflower meadow is a work in progress as there is always new plants that can be added. And then one year we had a bit of extra cash which allowed us to build the greenhouse.

 

The last two years I have been working on the flower garden.

 

I never get bored in the garden. There is always something to do, something new to create. Though really all I am doing is adding to mother nature and to some degree managing her. Though if you walked into our garden at the moment you’d see that there isn’t a huge amount of management going on, as they wet weather recently has meant no grass cutting and work has meant little weeding, so it’s all a a bit wild. But I do like it like that!

 

Daily Prompt: Create

June garden – Vegetables

The last two years I seem to have struggled getting the vegetable plot in order.  Just when I think I am getting things under control the weeds seem to take over!  Currently the autumn strawberries and the blueberries are somewhat overwhelmed with weeds

We’ve had a reasonable crop of purple sprouting broccoli and broccoli (which I started last autumn inside. Mange tout are cropping both inside and outside and broad beans are coming slowly.

The potatoes are doing well. Cabbages are suffering a bit of slug damage – how the slugs love them!  I surround them with broken egg shells which does help a little. Usually I can get some lettuce going early in the year,  but anything I have set outside this year has just vanished. So I’ll concentrate growing these tender leaves in the polytunnel.  Of course the weeds in the raspberry and blueberry beds are probably havens for slugs, and the recent damp weather doesn’t help either. We did watch a blackbird dismantle a slug the other day, but it did seem to have a problem with the slime.

Leeks, onions, parsnip, beetroot, red and white cabbages, courgettes and runner beans are all planted out. I have the latter two planted in the tunnel too in case we don’t get a warm summer. In the greenhouse, I have just recently planted tomatoes and cucumbers.

So if I can just keep on top of the weeds and slugs it will all be fine!

 

June garden update – flowers

Bees, as many of you know, are one of my favourite garden visitors, so providing them with food is important to me. Bumbles are currently busy feeding on comfrey, sage, lupins, foxgloves and delphiniums. The early bumblebees seem to really like the comfrey, while the carder bees are concentrating on the sage. While tailed bees I have seen on buttercup and lupin, while the big garden bumblebee queens that are still around are going for the foxgloves as well as comfrey. It just shows that having a variety of flowers in your garden is important if you want your help a range of bees.

One lovely new sighting for the garden was a humming bird hawk moth, feeding on sage flowers. This is an amazing day flying moth that looks, and acts like a humming bird. We hadn’t seen one since the time we lived in the UK, so great addition to our garden list. if you want to see what it looks out check out this link.

Humming bird hawk moth

Humming bird hawk moth – in a blur!

Vegetable garden update to follow soon.

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.