Saturday, 29 September 2012

Raised, filled and ready for action.

A sludgy day of wheelbarrowing is now complete and my raised bed sits proudly on what used to be a concrete desert.  Am looking forward to planting it up but will leave it to settle for a a week or so before doing so.  Had fun making a soil, bonemeal and compost layer cake effect when filling it.

Still have enough free topsoil left to create another bed, but have no other space earmarked at present, so the soil heap will just have to wait for spaces to arrive in the border.  I'm sure it can all be used - the soil in the greenhouse border can be renewed for starters - if the wild rocket ever stops providing me with salad that is...

Most of my September sown seeds in the greenhouse are now sprouting, so have a fuzzy little crop of Ammi majus, dianthus 'Sooty' (thanks for the seeds Cheng Jing!)  and hollyhocks are also starting to sprout.  Very excited to see the scabious seeds starting to push through - a scabious was the first containerised plant I ever bought as an adult, so its partially responsible for my gardening obsession...  I have a real soft spot for it in all its wild and cultivated forms.  Roll on next year!!

Don't be tidy - leave your seedheads for the  birds and the frosts... Better than a bald garden, any day.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sledgehammer wielding maniac

The discussion on the Guardian Gardens forum about building raised beds galvanised me into action yesterday.  Managed to winkle out planks from dad's neatly stacked, and devilishly impenetrable wood salvage pile and sawed them to size ready to make raised beds.

On inspecting the patch where I planned to put them, I decided to have a go at breaking up the concrete area which they'd sit on, just to improve the drainage.  However, once I had a sledgehammer in my hand and even the thickest sections were quaking under its blows, I found myself possessed by a powerful urge to demolish and now have a respectable pile of rubble awaiting more trips to the local recycling centre to get rid of it.  I must have been a peculiar sight in my purple mini skirt and leggings, sporting goggles and belting ten bells out of poured concrete...

My labours mean that my raised beds now can just be one plank high as I can breakup the subsoil, put down a bed of the topsoil I recently inherited and put the frame straight onto that, then fill it with more soil.  24 square feet of flowerbed to the good!  I'm now inspired to keep on going and get all the poured concrete in that area up - it really would be a significant addition to the flower border and also will be much better for water run off if there is less impermeable surfacing in the garden.

A good afternoon's work! 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Unexpected project - raised beds

Couldn't resist the offer of free topsoil from a friend who is building a patio and the resulting heap is now sitting muddily on the drive.

Next job is to build raised beds to put it in.  Any tips on what height to go for?

I think I'm going to let the size of my tunnel cloche or metal cold frame windows dictate the width of the bed, but can't decide how tall to make it.  I think it needs to be at least 15 -20cm high as it is going to be put on top of a solid, rather than soil base, so I'll need to allow room for a decent root run in the plants which go in it.

What do you reckon?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Site goes live(ish!)

The website is now up

and the first flower arranging 'how to' video is done.

Any feedback, ideas and comments welcome.

This means of course, that I've spent this sunny morning fiddling with the computer instead of getting my seeds set - so now I'll get to it...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bloody badgers ate my sweetcorn

A scene of devastation in the sweetcorn patch today.  All laid low, chewed and strewn all over the place - not that there was, as yet, a great deal to them as the cobs were only just starting to fill out.  My dreams of home grown corn will now have to wait until 2013.

Looks like my main crop this year will be... parsnips.  Still doing well - at least something is.

The autumn raspberries are having a final hurrah so I managed to pick enough to make a couple of jars of jam - better than the poke in the eye with a sharp stalk I collected yesterday whilst tending the border - no harm done, luckily.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Fresh starts and sort outs

This September sunshine has had me out laying waste to ground elder so that I can get some annual seeds planted today.  I fancy the notion of hollyhocks towering over the boundary so have finally cleared out the strip next to the drive - the ground elder there has been mocking me for the past two years and I've always had better things to do than invest time in revenging myself upon it. Today was that day and now the evil white roots are stacked in bags and buckets, waiting to go to the recycling centre (one reason I never use council waste compost!!).

Also sowed scabious, sweet williams and ragged robin in the greenhouse - am also going to try to get my hands on some larkspur to fling around the place.

Laid waste to the cherry laurel hedge down the left side - chopping the top two feet off has really let some more light in.  Just have to finish the patio end of the hedge now and the bit right down at the bottom. Grrr - there's just so much of the damn stuff to bag up afterwards.  Still - I feel like I've really achieved something today so can enjoy my well earned beer.

Still picking sweet peas!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Damson season

After weeks of being bashed on the head by drooping branches when putting stuff in the compost bin, the damsons are finally ready to harvest.  (Having first cut back the vicious stems of rambling rose which have made their way into the tree...).

Damsons are such picturesque fruits - that bloom their skins get as they ripen is just like nothing else. I only wish I could get a jumper in that colour!

Have made a batch of damson gin with my first pickings, following Sarah Raven's recipe, and it is looking good already.  Tomorrow I'm going to turn a batch into damson jelly as my children seem to devour jam at top speed (a vote of confidence I suppose).

Any other ideas for this marvellous fruit?

Friday, 7 September 2012

You know they're growing up when.....

It's not just the secondary school uniform and the size 8 feet, it's the fact that the gloop mine down the bottom of the garden is now truly overgrown with weeds from lack of regular disturbance.

Once a hive of activity with spades, diggers and contraptions to serve as water delivery systems, the abandoned workings are now home to ground elder, brambles and the odd nettle patch.

But we're having a barbeque this sunny weekend to reunite the rest of the mining crew, also newly dispatched to secondary education establishments across a wide area of Birmingham.  As digging and tunnelling have been inextricably linked with visits to our house, I have today done a preliminary clearing of stingy and scratchy plants,  hoping that fits of fond reminiscence will mean that the remaining ground elder will be laid low by a horde of spade-wielding juveniles.  Here's hoping.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

School term starts and my new gardening  regime begins....

The plan -
  • Finish off hard landscaping.
  • Pick up cheap annual seeds from garden centre to start September sowing
  • Cut back lavender to old wood and save dried flower heads
  • Take cuttings of new penstemons to have some more for next year
  • Clear out the green house
  • Wage war on ground elder
  • Have a general tidy up around the garden - get rid of all the stagnant buckets of rain-stewed weeds which have been sitting around for ages....
  • Take all the remaining patio rubble to the recycling centre
  • Do my first fencing project - replace the section of front fence between us and the neighbours.
  • Meet with school to discuss their gardens and a work schedule...  (Yippeee - I've got the infant school garden back!)
  • Make regular weekly visits to the allotment.
That should be enough for starters.... (that's without all the house painting jobs which are also on the list).

Summer seems to have arrived in September this year, with a whole week of sunny weather forecast for the Midlands at last.  It's come a bit late for my garden, but at least the roses in the main flower bed are putting on a good second flush of flowers.  The yellow rose, 'Absolutely Fabulous' is living up to its name as has been covered in new blooms and they just seem to keep going and going.  My beloved dark red/purple 'Falstaff' has also been having its best year yet, but it's always a race to get its blooms to open fully before the rain clobbers them and turns them into brown dough balls.  The current flower heads seem to be winning the race so am hoping to have a splendiferous show by the weekend.

I'm also delighted to see the herbaceous clematis (c. heracleifolia 'Wyevale') doing so well - it seems to be sprouting new bits every year and as it is the nearest scent to that of Indonesian frangipani blossom (my all time favourite flower smell), I am always happy to see it spread a bit further.  Combines well with the yellow rose (below) at this time of year, don't you think?

Hacked at the hawthorn hedge which is trying to turn into a collection of 20ft hawthorn trees earlier this week - layered a few bits by lacerating my arms and bending springy branches down and threading them into the framework of the hedge, but the really tall escapees just had to be cut down.  Now comes the fun bit of disposing of the malevolent prunings.

Right - back to work IN THE SUNSHINE!

Today's weather will be.....