Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A perfect autumn day..........

Sunday was to be a day down on the plot but inevitably was a complete wash out. Uggg! How easy it would have been to mope about mourning the loss of British summertime but instead I got busy making more chutney with the last of the tomatoes and thought I’d have a go at baking brownies too, though not in the same pan! It was a very productive day and filled the house with lots of lovely smells- it even got the dearly beloved out of bed….though to be fair, that was probably due to me banging and crashing around in the kitchen rather than the temptation of delicious and seductive aromas!

I digress – back the to the perfect Autumn day…..which was cold, clear and bright with the sheerest of breezes - a real pleasure to be out and making the most of the sunshine. Today’s task was to rescue the dozen hyssop plants from certain death which have been festering away in pots for…….well a lot longer than they should have (bad grower!) I only hope they perk up a bit now the roots have room to breathe. I’ve treated them to a thick layer of mulch, and to keep those weeds at bay for a little longer I picked up a nifty trick from GW*.

What to do with all the free newspapers that drop through he door? Well - there is always the blue recycling bin that the council collect once a fortnight but if you can make use of them in the garden then even better. So under the thick layer of SMC** there is a layer of 4 or 5 sheets of newspaper neatly tucked round the struggling hyssop plants.

Mulching achieves many great things – it suppresses weeds, retains moisture, insulates the ground keeping the heat in, looks decorative and most importantly can save work on maintenance. An organic mulch can also help to enrich the soil as it breaks down, and if applied on an annual basis will improve soil structure no end. Lush! It may seem a little time consuming but if it saves labour during the busy growing season then I say it’s worthwhile!

Next to be mulched are the strawbs which I lovingly weeded on my hands and knees today. Maybe I can enlist the help of my hubster………….?

*Gardener’s World **spent mushroom compost

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Shed day - hooray!

Yipeeee! Very excited that we have finally received our shed!
Despite an unpromising start amid wind and rain we began our shed raising trial. Like an Amish barn raising it was not. Tempers were fraught, frowning was deep and swear words were ...well some - so not quite like the scenes in 'Witness'. However, wife and husband did not maim each other til one of us was deaded despite a rather heated debate on supporting the base (turns out we hugely misunderstood each other!)
The instructions said it MUST be built by two people - Pish! I think four would have been conservative as the elements were against us! But triumph we did.
It may not be entirely square or level and the door is a little on the 'huh' and the roof felt looks savaged by a places, but it's up! And even though it has not been lovingly hand crafted from wombled materials it begins to acquire character and looks a rather handsome sentry of our grassy field with a strawberry patch!

Oh look - there's a rather handsome fella. A man at one with shed!

Sunday, 5 October 2008


I'm grateful to have done some gardening on the home patch yesterday as the weather has been foul today. The leeks are growing away happily, though I realised with horror the cats have been keen to add their contribution by pooing amongst the rows!!
Think I have thought of a way to deter them........

.........husband thinks there may be a flaw in my plan!

We finally have a lawnmower!

We finally have a lawnmower, no more horrid strimming! Now I can feel all manly as I strut up and down making it look like I'm actually doing some work, but thank god it's self propelled, our allotment is bumpier than a bag of spanners! Oh, and that cartoon sticker, that's me that is! A sticker seemed a more hygenic way of marking my territory than the traditional method!

Now it's wet!

A complete change from yesterday and has forced us to review our plans for today. Tisk! I was hoping to prepare some ground for a low hedge of hyssop. We have a dozen to plant along the front of the plot and after the under gardener strained his back extending the strawberry patch last Sunday I was hoping to plant those last four plants too. Ah well - when working in the great outdoors it's less frustrating if you can be adaptable. There are other things to get ahead with when the weather becomes challenging, such as documenting last weeks efforts!
With the increasing pressure to keep control of our grassy plot (whilst gently bringing it into cultivation) we decided to invest in a rotary petrol mower. The under gardener was very excited about the prospect of creating a lawn fit for bowling - I fear he may be disappointed!
What is important is maintaining the grass to prevent it becoming wild and ultimately harder work for ourselves. This was so with a strimmer - good for trimming round the edges but far more tedious than strolling up and down with a lawnmower! So while he did that I began our no-dig mulching experiment.
I started by strimming the grass as short as possible, then took a large cardboard box, flattened out (tape and staples removed) and covered it. Next a layer of grass cuttings, followed by a layer of mushroom compost both several inches deep. Finally a bit of treading to consolidate the surface and hey presto looks like a well dug and prepared bit of land. Whether it works, we have yet to see. Hope its not all taken off in the wind!

Andrew, after injury, retired to the car to listen to the radio while I dug out the new site for the shed. Why he asked? It's a design thing I said. He groaned. I shrugged and got on with it.
Illogical or not I decided I didn't want it crammed in the corner like everyone else and besides it's not time wasted as the old site will be the comfrey patch instead.... as long as I hurry up and weed it.Coming soon in the next few weeks - shed building, hyssop, strawberry, comfrey and redcurrant planting, echinacea, foxglove and forget-me-not potting and most inevitably - weeding. Also looking forward to apple tasting days at Ken Muir to decide what we want to grow!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

First frost!

We seem to have skipped Autumn and plunged directly into winter. To think it was warm enough to sit around in a teeshirt last weekend! I wonder if this is portent for a long cold one? Its been a while - guess it's possible. The hedgerows are packed with berries afterall - it's like a drive by larder! Think the wooly hat will be making an apperance very shortly.......and thats just indoors brrrrrrrrrr!