Sunday, 28 August 2011

Future fruits

I've begun another bout of digging. This time it's the area next to the shed which I'm prepping for the installation of a fruit cage and a couple more raised beds. The jury's still out on what fruit to grow yet but I'm toying with the idea of having a Boysenberry. I only came across this fruit recently; we bought some for the care home garden because it doesn't have any thorns. A little different from the usual berries, it's a cross between a blackberry, raspberry and loganberry. Well I'll give it a go once the cage is up and see what happens. Perhaps I'll plant a blackcurrent and a couple of blueberries with it. I'll have to check the size of the fruit cage before I go shopping!

I'm making the most of this productive mood and have also started clearing the ground on the other side of the shed to make room for the log store. Maybe it's because I'm beginning to feel like summer is coming to an end and occasionally my thoughts are turning to autumn and winter.  It's time to look into getting some logs delivered. Two more pallets have been retrieved from work to provide the base and there are some large posts and planks of wood left over from when the fence was reduced which I'll use to make the slatted sides. It's a good job it's a Bank Holiday weekend; I'm grateful for the extra day.

As far as the vegetable garden goes, all the peas are now bagged and in the freezer, the last of the beetroot have been cooked and sliced and I've cleared the spaces and planted a small row of rocket and another of spinach.  The spinach will only produce small leaves at this time of year but I do love them in a salad.

The pumpkin I planted back in July is doing well but has developed mildew on the leaves.  A quick search on the internet has revealed a couple of non-chemical solutions. One is to mix 1/4 ounce of baking soda in a gallon of water and the other is a 50:50 mixture of milk and water.  I'll try the baking soda solution first and see if that helps.  I'm informed that the mildew doesn't affect the fruit but if it kills the leaves off then the fruit could get sun-scorched without the protection.

What else has been happening? Well, I've added a few more plants to the borders around the lawn; a couple of Gypsophyla, a Lantana and a Dahlia.  The Forget-Me-Nots are being removed as well as most of the Aquilegia.  They were very helpful in filling in the borders in the early days but are taking over now so it's time to replace them with more variety.

Oh and the carrot wine is finally away from the starting blocks. It's almost ready to have it's first syphoning.  But I must admit, it's an odd colour!  I expect only time will tell with this one.
Hopefully it'll be ready for Christmas and
will taste better than it looks
I've also been given a bag full of windfall apples by a friend and I'm wondering if I should get some apple wine on the go as well.  It's all down to the amount of equipment I have - which isn't much - and the fact that the elderberries are ready to be picked, both from my tree in the garden and from one at work so there's an opportunity to make several gallons of elderberry wine this year.   Decisions, decisions.

A little note to end on........I've accidentally stepped on several green hazelnuts lying on the ground in the garden recently.   I wasn't sure if you could eat them 'green' but have found a few tasty-looking recipes so I'll be out foraging along the hedge tomorrow and trying these recipes out.  It won't be long before the race against the squirrels begins to see who gets to the ripened one first; I think I can predict the outcome of that in advance!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Make Haste Whilst the Sun Shines!

It's a bit of a blockbuster diary this week - there's been a lot going on in the garden.

The two girls from next door have been helping by clearing overgrowth around the veg beds and the shed.  It's a major job keeping the Productive area clear of weeds and their efforts have been a real help.  There may soon come a time, in a few years, when they're interest in gardening is surpassed by more 'girlie' interests such as boys, shopping and parties so I try and encourage their enthusiasm as much as possible at the moment in the hope that it will come back to them when they're older as it did for me.

Whilst the two girls were getting on with that I  tackled the barren area between what I call the Alpine Bank and the lawn area.  Most of this area will eventually form the pathway through the formal area to the gate into the Productive area. However I'll eventually do something with the small area (shown on the right in the next photo), at the bottom of the Alpine Bank; install a small water feature there and probably plant amongst gravel......well that's the thinking so far.

I've added 5 more alpines to the bank hoping that they will eventually help stabilise the soil. I planted a couple of Sedums (album 'Coral Carpet' and Acre 'Aureum'), a Rock Rose (Helianthemum 'Jubilee'), a Poppy (Papaver neudicaule 'Pacino')and a Phlox (x Procumbens 'Variegata'). I understand that the Sedum Acre could become pretty invasive but for the time being I'm happy for it to grow and stabilise the bank; I'll worry about the invasive-ness of it later.

Sedum 'Coral Carpet'

Phlox x Probumbens Variegata
 On the opposite side of the path to the Alpine bank is another 'unused' banked area, next to the patio. It's been slowly taken over by Aquilegia plants and it was time to clear them and add a bit of variety to the garden. So off I went to the garden centre and purchased 3 ornamental grasses; a Carex 'Amazon Mist', an Uncinia 'Rubra' and a Molinea 'Caerulea Variegata' (aka 'purple moor grass - which is weird because it's not!).  I chose these three simply because I liked the combination of their colours and because they will grow to different heights (the Molinea grows to about 60cms in height, the Uncinia around 30cms and the Carex 20cms). I'm now on the lookout for a larger, scented plant to sit in the corner of this bank against the fence (see the picture below) so that you can smell it's aroma as you enter the garden.

patio bank cleared and new grasses installed

closest to the patio - the Molinea

half way down the bank I planted the Uncinea
followed by the Carex at the bottom
As for the veg beds, well the last cauliflower was dug up and eaten at the weekend.  The pumpkin plant is doing really well and developing fruit so I should mulch the ground around it soon; whilst the courgette plant is not doing well at all.  It's flower heads have all dropped off and despite various anti-slug tactics it seems something has been having a nibble at it. I'm keeping a close eye on it at the moment. The peas are coming along brilliantly and several pods should be ready to pick sometime this week and I have 3 cobs coming along nicely on the sweetcorn.

Not long now!

A lantern in the making perhaps?

two little white tufts indicate sweetcorn
in the making

But the most exciting addition to the garden this week is my new outside tap. My next door neighbour fitted it for me this weekend which means I can finally stop making numerous trips up and down between house and garden carrying a watering can and bucket full of water. Not only can I water my plants properly now but it's also going to be easier for me to fill up the water butt in the Productive area.  I was so excited at finally having an outside tap that I spent this evening watering various plants and veg, trying out the different watering options on the hose gun - from 'watering can' to full 'wide spray'.  I'm not sure the novelty of this is going to wear out all that quickly!

By the way, I've just discovered it's supposed to rain tonight.