the sea-holly re-surfaces

The sea holly, which had disappeared during the heat wave last summer, has re-appeared.  The big dude’s delighted.  I’d protected and marked the spot with a broken tool handle, which we’ve now removed.  It’s likely that the very heavy clay soil it’s planted into is not good for it.  As coastal plants they would naturally prefer well draining, gritty ground.  We may adjust the conditions by adding some grit around the base of the plant.  And we’re also not going to over-water it.  With any luck it will come out stronger and more resilient than ever.

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The great Malink had been very vexed when it disappeared last summer, and repeatedly threatened to dig it out.  But I always cautioned against it – on the principle that the plant might come back, and also that even dead roots keep weeds out.  And here we are: the super-powers of plants!

In the top left corner you can see the small glossy leaves of wild celandine growing in under the rose hedge. Probably considered by some a ‘weed’, I love celandine – low growing, glossy, found in shady spots that are otherwise empty of interest, that sport bright cheerful yellow flowers (also glossy!) in the early spring.  So I’ll leave it growing.

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Another plant growing on it’s own which we’ll leave in place is the clump of bluebell.

It grows in what otherwise is naturally a ‘path’ running along the side of the damask rose fence that is edged with terracotta pots (just visible in this photo).

In addition to the pots is a line of rusted old garden tools – all found buried under bushes and revealed in the process of clearing the plot.

The whole of the top level has been generously wood chipped to stop it being slippery in the rain – the ground is solid clay and gets slick when wet.  Thank goodness for all that free wood chip arranged by the allotment committee.

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advances in the back patch

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Bearded iris in flower, 28 April 2019.

In the back patch the long flower bed that runs beside the railway path is fairly well established – and full of perennial flowers of all sorts: iris, hollyhock, day lilly, gladioli, asiatic lilly, climbing roses on the pergolas, and so forth.

Also wormwood, peony, lungwort, cyclamen, hyacinth, daffodil, campanula, low growing saxifrage….

So well developed that I’m now starting to plan to dig out, divide and spread some of the plants elsewhere – into the woods!

The back bed, that run along the back fences of the garden flats, is something else altogether.  A bit wild.  A bit ‘in development.’  At the start there’s some sage which has spread wildly and needs taming.  (Don’t even like sage that much!)   And a red currant bush, which really needs a bit better tending.

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And of course there’s the well-established (but somehow flagging) rhubarb patch. (Ground’s too poor and needs huge amounts of manure added).

And a handful of amazing globe artichoke plants – they’re growing so large that they’re shadowing out three rhubarb that are planted behind them.  I’ll have to move the rhubarb if I want to save them.

I think the artichoke plants are in their third year, and are already setting flower heads. We’re going to research how to eat them.  I know, really – steam and eat with garlic butter.  Just have to watch a you-tube video on removing the ‘choke’ – the hairy non-edible bit.

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showers & seed beds

Went up this morning, despite some light drizzle.  There were tomato to plant in (two cherry red tomato and one yellow tomato), as well as the beans (starter plants purchased at Homebase).  Overcast and rainy is just about perfect for transplanting – but not so much for people!

CIMG4346I was going to give up after planting in the beans but as the conditions were perfect I chivvied myself to stay on even though I was starting to get damp.  Luckily once up there the rain let off – eventually!

So the beans and tomato are planted in.  I re-sited some of the calvero nero growing in the salad bed as the plants were growing too close together.

Moved the blueberry to the end of the patch in it’s new planter.

Dug out some of the self-seeded euphorbia from the flower bed in front of the ivy hedge and transplanted those into the front end (on H’s side of the shrub barrier) – I’m sure he won’t mind!  Then forked loose the soil and added some fresh compost, watered then seeded a small coriander bed in there.  Watered well and wished them happy sprouting.

Coriander are pretty robust so should do fine there, despite the very poor and pebbly state of the soil.  They are a great allotment plant – you can eat the leaves for a savoury salad (delicious!!), and also eat the tiny umbrels of white blossom.  The seeds, if you let them go to seed, are edible as well – and in oriental cuisine the coriander root is also used.  So a completely fully edible little wonder.  Magic!

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hits & misses

Sunday morning – intermittent sun but pretty chilly if the breeze blows.  Lots of new growth on the raspberries – looking lush!  Strawberries all coming to life and coming into flower.  And signs of seedlings in the basket bed of radish and coriander (more signs of radish than the middle line of coriander, but fingers crossed).

But some losses too.  Slug and snail damage to some of the early planted brassica.  And the mini-cukes are completely gone.  The potted summer squash is looking sickly – we’ll have to dump out the soil, wash the pot and start completely new.

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progress report

We were up and at the plot before 9 in the morning.  Two more wheelbarrows of mulch for the top level.  The pile of wood chip was still steaming and hot – it’s scary.  It might actually be a fire hazard all heaped up like that.

More shed progress – despite technical difficulties: broken and bent drill bits, and over-leaning tree branches, another wall support was put in – albeit needing future strengthening.  The over-leaning branches in the end did have to be cut out, so we did it, and then did all the subsequent cutting, trimming, tidying-up.  Done!

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..thinking of stawberries & salad….

Allotment-April6-woodchip1Doesn’t it just blow your mind that all the fruit you eat – including tomatoes & aubergines & pumpkins & onions & cherries and everything in between…  it all starts with a flower.  A simple little flower.  That turns into the things that we eat.  Amazing!

(Ok – well that, flowers, and some fresh rain water and some gentle heat from the sun.)

And then, as my mind digests these simple facts, with dirt under my nails and twigs in my hair, I’m completely blown away by this idea magnified by things like global wine production, the infinite value of good olive oil, fresh fragrant tomatoes, and beautiful lettuce.  All the effort it takes to produce the things that we need for survival.

Sure.  People laugh at lettuce.  The ‘salad years’ and so on.  What rubbish!  How dare they.  Perfect salad and season greens is a magnificent cosmic gift – so singular, so aromatic!

I propose we calibrate our rating of civilisations and cultures on salad.  Let’s get real about what really counts.  Good food, well-grown.  Slow economies.  A re-evaluation of values.  What counts?  And why?  And what, more importantly, should count?

I say: salad!  So tonight we had garden grown spinach with our dinner. Yum!

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mulch-tastic

There was a pile of steaming mulch at the entrance – so we did what is the custom, and helped ourselves.

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What a difference a little mulch can make! Especially the bottom path near the verbena – much safer now that it’s not a steep bank of slippy clay.

Sadly some of the veg we planted out aren’t doing that great – like the mini-cukes, the summer squash and the red kale. But maybe it’s just too cold.

The snap peas planted at the top of ‘Alberta’ are doing ok – though in a cold-weather suspended-animation kind of way.

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Below them is the bed of red onion, planted in autumn.

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shed update & future strawberries

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Our time-lapsed shed…

Sunday was a bit chillier.  Despite wanting a bit of a chilled out weekend the big dude woke up and wanted nothing other than to carry on with the shed.

It now has all upper frame connections.  Amazingly level but still a little wobbly – will firm up as the walls come to shape.

I puttered about and carried on removing bindweed from the boundary near the water pond.  Trimmed the dead branches from the unknown shrub to the side of the damask rose.  Not our side but we abut it directly and it’s nice to have the boundaries tidied up.

Also dug out the last of the yellow iris from the raspberry bed.

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signs of coming summer

This morning was warm and sunny.  We opened all the windows in the flat before we left to visit the allotment.

Allotment-footings-studs2The big guy was keen to make a start at framing the walls on the shack.  He got four beams upwards and two walls semi-framed in.  It’s starting to look like a real shed!

I finally started the wicker basket with radish seeds – two rows and a central row of leafy coriander.  Must build a small wood and wire frame to put onto the top to keep the birds off the seed beds.

Planted the red curly kale – into last year’s tomato and pepper bed.  It is side neighbours with the purple sprouting broccoli which I planted in last Saturday.   I put three red curly kale into the tiny little new bed I created by blocking off the end of one of the pathways (too much path and not enough growing space!!).

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the sun warms the skin

We woke up to a very sunny Sunday morning.  And headed out to the plot after a breakfast smoothie.  The great gardening Malink wanted to lay down a few of the new paving stones and carry on preparations for the shed.

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Wood for shed frame with 2nd coat of preserver.  Showing the 3rd paving stone in the path across the top level which will join to the other set of stairs going down.

Before we jumped on our bicycles we paused to dig up two small patches of sweet woodruff and some wild violet from the side back patch/woods to transplant into the side flower beds at the allotment.  I absolutely adore sweet woodruff; my only regret is that it spreads so slowly.  In late spring it comes into flower with tiny little star-shaped flowers twinkling low and lightly over a bottom carpet of delicate foliage.  So lovely!)

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When we got up to the allotment it was soon too warm to work without peeling some layers.  First I peeled the big oversized fleece.  Then I peeled the black cotton sweater.  Down to my tank top/underwear!  So put on my down gilet over the tank top – bare armed and quite warm…  Wow!

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