Garlic

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Cosmos in bloom with blue dragonfly, Sat 9 Nov 2019. (Photo by G)

It’s been monsoons – too wet & mucky to garden.  Last weekend was a complete wash out. This week there’s been flooding up North and one woman died when a river overran its banks.  Yikes.

This morning started with heavy mist – the hills of the heath were invisible in the milky skyline.  But by mid-morning the sun started shining and it looked like it would be nice, so we went out to the allotment.  Brought up three more water jugs to use as cloches in the early spring, as well as the bag of onion, garlic and tulip bulbs – and the little dragon fly garden twirler that Peej sent for my birthday.  Put together the little dragonfly right away and installed him to watch guard over the blueberry pot.  After that I only got the garlic planted, as by the time we were done with that simple task it had started to drizzle.

But in the meanwhile, before the drizz, the big guy hung up the Canadian license plates on the front side of the shed and tidied up the paving stone steps.

I puttered, and harvested us a sweet treat in a handful of ripe yellow raspberries.  Raspberries in November!  Go figure!  The pink flowered cosmos are also still in flower. Amazing! Continue reading

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Let’s Talk ‘Bout Sheds, Baby

Actually, let’s not.  I’ll let these pictures tell a thousand words or more.

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Our new shed, only recently completed and already looking part of the habitat.  As seen from standing behind the raspberry bed, September 2019.

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Shed, complete with a scaffold-pipe raised bed along the side for pea growing.

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Cutting update – damask success

Last winter we took three cuttings from the damask rose.  Allotment-rose-splices2At first, all three took and thrived, but eventually there were two, and then, just one.  But what a one that one is!

It’s been repotted to a large handsome terracotta pot.  And has set bloom.  This is the third mature bloom.  And all from a twig mere months ago.

Magic!

P.S.: Squirrels were burrowing into the pots to scavenge crocus bulbs, hence the pea netting around the base of the pot. We’ll have to work on finding a more attractive solution.

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the strawberry patch – expanded

The success of our small strawberry patch last spring heartened us to increase its size.  We’d left all the nigella (aka love in a mist) to flower and go to seed, and now have dug over the previous wildflower plot, added some manure and extra soil to improve the clay, and started a new bed.  We’ve also raised the height of the bottom bed to help level the ground and make it easier to tend.

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Expanded strawberry bed, September 2019.  The new bed has been raised up; the established strawberries are at the far right and their bed remains the original format.

The shed is pretty much complete, with a working water butt with eavestrough.  And the box planter on the bottom of the side of the shed that faces down the stairs has been installed, with attractive scaffolding supports.  The plan is the hang some pea netting on the side of the shed under the windows, and grow low-growing snap and sugar peas in the box planter.

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New expanded strawberry patch, looking up towards the shed and top terrace. September 2019.

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Berry overload

CIMG5306Can you Adam and Eve it?!  There were simply too many berries for us to eat fresh.  We were gorging on blackberries every evening – with meringues, with yoghurt, with whipped cream, with vanilla ice cream.  Berries ’til we were blue in the face.

So we made jam.  Using the original family jam-making spoon I used with my folks when I was under the age of ten. I just love its utilitarian simplicity!  It has a small slotted tongue so it can sit neatly on the edge of the pot, as shown.

Michelob said the jam was delicious.

Yum yum.

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Summer – where did it go?

Where did summer go?  We started gloriously, with a modest harvest of garlic in June…

cimg4775.jpgFollowed by good crops of calvero nero (black Italian kale), beans, courgette, onions, and an almost impossible steady supply of delicious sweet blackberries.

We’ve also had good crops from the cherry tomatoes – both yellow and red.  The red ones were round and sweet.  The yellow ones tear-shaped and equally delicious.  Yum!

The photo below, showing home grown white onion, garlic, swiss chard, calvero nero, beans, broccoli and a yellow zucchini, also features R’s apricots, which he gifted to us as he had bumper crops.  And a sieve full of blackberries.CIMG5267

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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 its 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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