Friday, 20 June 2008

Weed and Feed

This weekend will be a weed and feed weekend. We are promised sun and rain - the last couple of weekends have been so glorious, I know I can never trust the weather reports until I wake up in the morning and see for myself. In England, morning sun doesn't always last, and I might wake up and see glorious sunshine only to see it disappear over the course of the morning until it starts raining by midday.

But in the words of Monty Don, paraphrased, you take what the weather gives you, and you work with it (I've just finished my Friday fix of Gardener's World). If I'm feeding (including the lawn), and it's raining, well then I don't have to water it in afterwards.

I'm having something of a glut of lettuce. We had our first gorgeous, home-grown salad the other night!

Not a problem, of course. I just don't want it to bolt, which would mean it would start flowering, and completely run away, and would then be inedible.

So it's salad every day for me! Am I complaining? The rocket and spinach too must be picked, and of course eaten ... mmmmm. That seemed to be marvelously quick, between the sowing of the seed and a full salad bowl every night. I find that if I pick some lettuce, or rather just hack it off with a scissors by the big handfuls, bring it in and soak it in ice cold water in a bowl with a dash of vinegar (to kill any bugs), then spin it dry, it will keep amazingly well in the fridge in a plastic bag. I was very surprised that it lasted lke that for days, and I had a lovely Greek salad last night.

The tomatoes - I have read that you need to water little and often and I must remind myself to do that. The week was mostly fine, with lovely periods of sunshine, moderately warm some days and cloudy others. But not enough rain, I believe, so when I checked on the garden last evening I realised I really should have had the hose out for some light watering all around. I watered. This weekend I will feed again with some Tomorite.

I'm pleased with most of them. They need some more tying up this weekend, and they are growing wonderfully, except perhaps that one in the middle there, which although it is flowering, like it's neighbour on the left (every flower a lovely tomato!) is looking a bit wilty.

And then I discovered last weekend, when I was tying up the new jasmine towards the back (the idea was to have it behind crawling up the fence behind the vegetables) - I have mangetout!

Gosh, isn't that gorgeous?

Speaking of jasmine, the one behind the herbs is finally coming into it's own.

That baby was in a pot in my previous, mostly container garden, up until last year. When I finally took it out of the pot, I actually had to break the pot with a hammer to get it out, it was so root bound. I could almost feel the roots saying "ahhhhhhhhh", as they stretched out into the ground. It didn't do a whole lot last year, but I am well pleased with the progress this year. The scent!

You see the alliums are still there. The heads themselves, even without the flowers, and so lovely and sculptural I cannot bring myself to cut anything down. Not to mention the other beautiful bulb, whose name I cannot remember (I shall be looking for those bulbs in Tesco again this autumn!) which went from this lovely thing

To this beautiful seedhead. Like little rockets. Very special!

Finally the left border is bursting, but there are some plants I am slightly concerned about - the clematis has done fairly well, as have the other flowers, but I am worried about that soil, and have purchased an experimental bag of grit to dig in. Perhaps I shall do that this weekend, too, weather permitting. But I shall most certainly put down some feed over there and try to hoe it in, soil permitting (I don't want to have to get the pickaxe again)! The roses will get their own dose of Toprose, and I shall just generally spread and hoe in some Growmore. It just seems to me that last year some of the plants were a bit more, well, thriving. Perhaps I am unduly concerned, as the whole thing really was only planted a year ago (Happy Birthday left border!), and everything really only burst forth in July.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, I believe! Well then, time to roll up the sleeves and really get stuck in!

Good news - I have a new, more satisfying, more fulfilling job. Which means I can re-focus my out-of-work energies where they belong!

One last note to self - must get the next lot of nematodes down. Some things on the left are looking a bit chewed ... I might try a garlic-water as well. And set up my new slug trap ...

Monday, 16 June 2008

Burn Baby Burn

Well, you see, in conversation over the barbeque last weekend during the power cut, your man upstairs, ever resourceful, had a very good suggestion. He said "I noticed the Hippo Bag there" (they know it well as they renovated their bathroom, and yes a Hippo Bag can hold an entire bathroom suite) "and I was thinking, actually, most of that could be burnt, in one of those cans specially designed for, well, burning."

This is the sort of thing. What a super idea, and it frees up the Hippo Bag for, well, anything! But we're thinking of the rubble and soil when we chop back the "ugly front" which I am so longing to do, all in the hopes of putting up some sort of wall, and then some decking tiles down on the patio.

So, lo and behold, husband and I pop to the garden centre on Sunday, and I'm thinking all the time of this burning bin, and back we come and sitting outside the house, is the bin! Him upstairs was very excited about the prospect and didn't waste any time.

Husband had already half emptied the Hippo Bag again of the wood fence panels after that conversation last weekend (which, to be honest, burn like cardboard) to make more room, which means the wood that I had so labouriously carted to the front was back at the side, but only for a short time. I can forgive the fact that I loaded up the Hippo Bag last week on my own, encountering I don't know how many, and how many different kinds of spiders in that pile. Still, no harm done.

It burned!

Oh my how it burned, and most of it, too. D. upstairs was very keen and to be honest does love his fires - husband joined in as much as he could although he had much work to do inside; but all in all the boys were very happy. I was very, very happy! Look!

Tree branches gone, very little left now, except the last bits of wood (she upstairs called him in early evening, else he would have been there burning away to his heart's content until the sun went down).

That ridiculous Ice Cream Cone thing is gone. I actually took the pickaxe to it on Saturday, and it shattered into satisfyingly small pieces of plastic, now ensconced in the Hippo Bag.

All very, very satisfying. And now I see ...

I have my work cut out for me. That patch back there, is in a terrible, terrible mess. A lot of back-breaking, satisfying work to come, preparing that section for several more rows of turf, and a planted border.

I have so many ideas for the border. Not least those Peonies I am carefully looking after until such time as they go in the ground. But oh my ... there is some work to do!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Hello and Apologies

Again. But since the word is out, I can tell you, looking for a new job is taking up a lot of mental energy and time. Not so much time that I haven't had a chance to garden - oh no, never that! But again the sharing is getting lost in the efforts of dealing with the world of work.

But let me start out by showing you the potatoes. Oh, my, goodness. Last you saw perhaps was something like this:

That was just a few weeks ago, when I was so excited that every plant had come up, even with the chunks of cement that may or may not be down in that soil.

But now, we have this:

A veritable mini-forest of potato plants. Well as you may have realised, in terms of certain vegetables, I am a novice. But this? I didn't expect them to be so big!

I believe that the previous weekend was eventful and fruitful, but I can hardly remember now. This weekend just gone was even more so - the weather was phenomenal and much was accomplished on both days.

One of the main things I did on Saturday was the purchase and partial filling of a Hippo Bag. This is a viable alternative to a skip, and saves at least £40, last time I checked on the prices for skips, about a year ago. You can purchase it from many DIY shops, and then you fill it in your own time, and call for collection as and when you like.

This is of course there to fill with all the stuff at the back!

But if you remember this, it is now "in the bag", as it were.

But still, once the borders are weeded, I find myself running out of little things to do ... no more planting is necessary until I attack the back, as I am pretty happy overall with the herb garden

the left border

and the vegetable patch.

More could have been done on Sunday, if we hadn't had a power cut that lasted all day, until about 8 pm. Otherwise I would have cut the grass, but by the time the power came back on (remember we have an electric mower) we had already fired up the barbeque, just in case they really meant in when they said it wouldn't come back on until 11 pm ... and a good time was had by all!