Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Feeling virtuous

For years now, five at least, I've been talking the talk and carefully avoiding the hard work.

We have four flower borders on the lawn which I created about 10 years ago. My parents were selling their house and I was taking some plant cuttings from the beautiful garden. I did a trip to England and came back with about 80 cuttings all potted up. Most of the cuttings came from the borders in the picture on the left but I've included the picture on the right as it is the pond I fell into when I was about four and my brother insisted on taking his brand new watch off before he pulled me out - the watch had been a Christmas present so the water was COLD!

Nearly all took and many have seeded and developed. Anyway, I dug the flower beds in a hurry and although I was pretty good about clearing the roots I was working in a field that had recently been cow pasture. So very fertile but full of perenial weeds.

The borders in June showing many of the imported plants.

I realised very quickly that the only solution would be to start again but as the beds developed it seemed a real shame to empty them out. I also didn't fancy more back breaking digging and no-one else wanted to do it! Clearly a rotation was required and today we cleared, more or less, the first bed. More or less means that as there are two pear trees, one at each end, we've cleared between them. We solemnly dug up old friends and split them up and replanted elsewhere. We took out as many weed roots as possible and we have covered it in wonderful manure from the farm next door (same cows!).

Finally, so that we won't be tempted to put plants and flowers back in before the autumn, I've put in some seed potatoes. This is my cunning plan for improving the soil and it also uses up a few more of the seed potatoes. I'm hopeless at mounding up potatoes and instead I put "stuff" directly all over the potato beds. "Stuff" includes, in no particular order, garden compost, manure, leaf mould, straw. Usually about three doses is enough to keep the tubers covered and prevent them going green and the result is that once all the potatoes have been removed from the bed the soil is absolutely wonderful.

Once this first bed is replanted we can clear the second bed - more potatoes if my plan works! - and so on until all four are done. I just hope it isn't like painting the Skye Bridge!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

A Mixed Week

The list from last week is definitely shorter but not as short as I would like. However, one reason is because I was working on a client's chair and that is better than no work at all - therefore no complaints!

We haven't got around to putting more chicken eggs into the incubator and I still haven't bought the broad bean seeds. Still time so no worries.

However, the first lot of potatoes (Maris Piper and Aloe) are in. The figs are pruned and the bees food (sugar candy) has been topped up where required. We bought far too many seed potatoes so we will start work on a second potato bed this week. We also need to fence off this whole area against the rabbits. Anyone tried doing this with an electric wire?

I also did an experiment fluid sowing some carrot seed. It's still too cold to sow them outside so I scattered some on a piece of paper and left them covered in the window for a few days. As soon as they started to show signs of development I put them into a mix of cornflour and water and now they are sown in the greenhouse. I've started off the second lot and hope to have them in by the end of the week. I've read about this technique for years and have never tried it - I'll let you know.

One sadness to report. The second goose (Dipstick to his friends) hasn't survived. I came down on Thursday and Donald was making a dreadful racket. His little friend was lying lifeless on the floor of their temporary home. We were not totally surprised. Dipstick took a long time to get out of his egg (hatching time I mean) and despite running around with Donald and seeming very happy he wasn't growing as quickly as his big brother. Donald is growing visibly by the day. Two days ago we were very worried about the attention he was getting from Tickel - Ralph's Teckel or Dachsund. Today however, Tickel actually ran away from him. Whether this was fear of Donald or anticipation of trouble from Max or me I don't know; it won't be long before Donald is the bigger beast though.

Jobs for this week: The extra potato bed; fix the pigs' fencing as they arrive in two weeks time; finish weeding the flower beds and put the manure on them. That should be enough for the time being!