As a Spring to Autumn gardener, I’m used to a ‘hungry gap’, but this one feels very long. So far we’ve had just herbs and strawberries. Thankfully, though it continues cloudy and rainy, the overall temperature looks to have lifted, so hopefully growth will speed up.
While it has inconvenienced us humans the last few weeks, the weather has provided ideal growing conditions for our gardens. Good drownings of rain, followed by generous doses of sunshine. Though by mid-May it still feels like things are behind given the slow start we got off to following the delayed then drawn-out winter and inclement early spring.
One of the three raspberry canes I planted is showing leaves. I was delayed planting these by early spring deluges, so am delighted to see at least one of them coming to life.
Mange tout tendrils are starting to reaching out toward their climbing frame.
And the green beans have finally joined the party. I was starting to fret about them.
Strawberries coming along nicely.
Potatoes recently earthed up and looking healthy.
Tomato seedlings are on a go slow in the greenhouse, and no sign of the aubergines germinating yet (I’ve put down another batch and crossed my fingers it’ll stay warm enough to encourage them out).
The ever expanding rosemary needs a good prune.
Madge’s roses are getting ready to burst forth in the coming weeks.
Our little bee sanctuary at the back of the garden is coming along nicely.
I haven’t had much to say here over the past two months on the garden front, as I’ve been doing more waiting than working.
Waiting first for the weather to warm enough to start seedlings and direct planting (garlic and potatoes are down, various seedlings now started in the glasshouse but a ways off being ready for their next phase). Then we decided to knock down the old brick shed at the bottom of the garden, a sixty-year-old structure that was becoming increasingly death-trap like. (Upon knocking it down we realised that the bottom bricks –some extra heavy precursor to the breeze block – had turned almost to soil). Then the rain started again, turning a three/four day exercise into a three week one (which is still ongoing at time of writing).
Sifting through the wet detritus has been a thankless, backbreaking job – as we try to fashion the heavy blocks of the shed into a ‘brickery’ in the style of our coal shed brickery towards the front of the garden – which we hope will be a bee paradise filled with lavenders and hyssops and rosemary and all sorts of lovely bushy flowering plants.
This time last year, we had transformed our garden from the plant and muck heap jungle we found on moving in, to an ivy-free orderly growing space with raised beds, a little glass house and new bamboo screening to take the edge off the hodgepodge fencing behind. We were delighted with ourselves. And then, after the unnervingly hot summer, storm after storm battered the place, ripping away the screening, soaking the soil built up around the shed and making it ever more precarious.
Hopefully in a month or so, a [brief] harmony will be restored and we can focus on the lovely business of watching new things grow. But who knows what the weather will bring. My money’s on ever more extremes.
I’m starting a new batch of compost. And I’m going to do it right this time, layering my greens and browns, chopping up the plant waste nice and small, keeping the teabags, egg shells and hard to break-down bits to a minimum.
I’ve been using a wheelie bin with a makeshift door cut into the bottom for my compost. It’s not ideal as there’s no drainage in the bottom, but I don’t have an area of ground suitable for an open bottom bin or a heap, so it’s the best solution currently.
About two-thirds of the contents of the compost bin was ready for use (though the lowest parts were very heavy on the egg shells and tea bags), so I’ve transferred that into the largest of my raised beds (which needed a soil top up). I mixed the compost with fresh veg peelings and cuttings, and covered it all with layers of cardboard for the plentiful worms to work their magic on over the next couple of months.
I’ve lined the empty compost bin with cardboard for extra insulation during the cold months ahead, and laid a base brown layer of shredded cardboard and autumn leaves taken from my leaf mould stash.
On top of that, I added some soil from last season’s grow pots, then a well-chopped up fruit and veg waste green layer, another brown layer, soil and more fresh material bringing the bin up to half way full.
I was less conscientious last year which led to unpleasant smelling and slow-to-break-down compost which wasn’t properly layered or aerated.
My favoured seed suppliers, the Organic Centre in Leitrim, sent out their seed catalogue the other day, and I dutifully went through my seed box to see what I have and what I’d like and placed my first order of 2019.
Already the anticipation of the new year’s growing is upon me!
Including the seeds above, the list for this year’s growing includes:
Black and red currants
Kale (as a sacrificial feast for the insects)
New mints varieties*
I’ve covered our three raised beds with vegetable peelings and other organic detritus and a couple of layers of cardboard (one for eating, one for cover), converting them into wormy paradises for the winter time. I’ll add peelings and lighter vegetation every now and then so the worms have something fresh to munch on. Hopefully this will lead to both rich soil and healthy worms for the spring planting.
And I plan to make excessive amounts of nettle tea over the coming weeks (just need the nettles to grow first) to use as feed throughout the growing season. I’ll need to invest in a face mask to avoid the stench. It is truly foul.