Suddenly Everywhere is Green

Finally, I can see what has come back / survived and where the gaps are. It’s certainly an improvement on last year – much less bear earth, but still too much!

I planted out loads of garlic this afternoon. We were self sufficient for nearly a year last time. I’m aiming for the same this time round. I’m very late with it, but luckily I have found clumps I missed last year, so not as behind as I’d feared.

The tigernuts / chuffa seem to be germinating. They will need large pots as I have no room in the ground for them. Same goes for the horseradish plant I bought today – I hadn’t realized they were invasive. Thankfully, I have a few empty pots hanging about.

The young quince tree is blossoming and the apple trees aren’t far behind.

Listening to bird song as I type. Love this time of year.

Woodruff finally spreading to form a carpet in the shady end of the garden. Rhubarb, gooseberry and angelica well.

Woodruff finally spreading to form a carpet in the shady end of the garden. Rhubarb, gooseberry and angelica well.

Quince 'Isfahan'

Quince ‘Isfahan’

The ever reliable hardy geraniums.

The ever reliable hardy geraniums.

Apple blossom coming (Ellison's Orange).

Apple blossom coming (Ellison’s Orange).

Tigernuts and new horseradish plant.

Tigernuts and new horseradish plant.

Forgotten garlic growing amongst the wild garlic and sweet violets.

Forgotten garlic growing amongst the wild garlic and sweet violets.

Sorrel coming along nicely.

Sorrel coming along nicely.

The forest garden extension. I've only added garlic since my last post, but everything seems to be happy.

The forest garden extension. I’ve only added garlic since my last post, but everything seems to be happy.

Raspberries 'Autumn Bliss'. Should get a summer crop and an autumn crop thanks to L's clever pruning.

Raspberries ‘Autumn Bliss’. Should get a summer crop and an autumn crop thanks to L’s clever pruning.

Beautifully green, but I can't wait for some colour. I've tried and failed to buy heartsease - none of the garden centers seem to have them atm. Maybe it's too early? They look so pretty planted amongst the strawberries.

Beautifully green, but I can’t wait for some colour. I’ve tried and failed to buy heartsease – none of the garden centers seem to have them atm. Maybe it’s too early? They look so pretty planted amongst the strawberries.

 

 

Mini Forest Garden Extension Progress (finally)

Absolutely shattered, but glad it is basically done. The photos pretty much speak for themselves, but here goes. I’ve planted three silver birches, Gooseberry ‘Hinnonmaki Red’, a Honeyberry (blue honeysuckle – I suspect Blue Velevet because of it’s prostrate growth), Rhubarb ‘Raspberry Champagne’ and a Daubington’s Kale. Oh, and a grape, Frankenthaler, hopefully to be trained against the shed (cavary). (Not really sure how practical that is, but I’ve put it there for now). I need to buy another Honeyberry to complete ‘the bones’. Interplanting wise I’ve just popped in a few things from other places round the garden. A few alpine strawberries, some sorrel, ladies mantle and columbines. I need to have a really good think. Ideally I’ll fit in some perennial veg. Hopefully my new book, ‘Edible Perennial Gardening – Growing Successful Polycultures in Small Spaces’ by Anni Kelsey will inspire me.

On the path behind I still have my old blueberry bushes. One is still growing strongly in a metal tub. The other is on it’s last legs in a wooden container, also on it’s last legs. I think they are around 13 years old now, so I can’t complain. I have numerous terracotta pots to fill. I want to get another two or three blueberry bushes. No specific plans for the others. Although, I might try some thymes in the strawberry planter. Maybe I’ll have more luck with them in that than I do in the ground?

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New Plants and a New Routine

The postman delivered some seeds to me today, or rather some seeds and some tiny tubers.

Kale 'Red Russian', Kale 'Nero de Toscana' and Cyperus esculentus (aka Chufa / Tigernut).

Kale ‘Red Russian’, Kale ‘Nero de Toscana’ and Cyperus esculentus (aka Chufa / Tigernut).

I was slightly taken aback by how tiny the tigernut tubers were. I knew they weren’t going to be big, but my goodness, I’ll need very good crops for it to be worth it :/ They are supposed to be very nutritious though and tick the primal box with an A*. (They are not nuts but tubers). I just hope they take to pots as I have nowhere for root crops now. (Haven’t even planted any Jerusalem Artichokes this year). I shall put the tubers to soak for 36 hours before planting (this method has proven successful for others).

I do hope the kales are a success as we are going through loads of the stuff. They will have to muddle on in my mixed west facing border. I shall place the ‘Nero de Toscana’ down the sunniest end and Red Russian in the shadier end, nearer the house (which casts a shadow).

This afternoon we popped to a local garden centre (Haskins) where I bought a young angelica replacement and two small thyme plants. Namely, ‘Common Thyme’ and ‘Doone Valley’. I hope these fare better than my previous thymes. I think maybe I need to use them more often – it might help stop them from going so woody.

Later on, in Wilkinsons, I spotted a reduced rhubarb plant (£2 from £4.50). I can’t see anything wrong with it. No leaves as yet, but I can see they are coming. It’s called ‘Raspberry Champagne’. It’s my third rhubarb plant, the others being ‘Victoria’ and ‘Timperley Early’. I like rhubarb not only for it’s edible stalks but also for it’s looks. I’ll pop it in the new forest garden extension.

……

On Friday we went to an HE group, as we did the week before. This is quite a novelty for us as, with our severe nut and peanut allergies, groups have been out of the question. However, this group has a blanket no nuts or peanuts rule. Such peace of mind! The girls really enjoy it. There is always something cleverly crafty to do, plus kickboxing! I love it that they do anything from the delicate art of decoupage to kickboxing in one afternoon :)  There are other unstructured activities to choose from too. H spent most of the last session kicking a football around with a mixed age group. It’s wonderful how HE kids accomodate one another. Not something seen very often in school children. Well, not in my experience anyway.

Spurred on by the nut free group I have started organising fortnightly nut free play meet-ups. Always outside and informal – the kids soon find fun things to do with minimal or no lead from the adults. Den building and getting wet seem to be firm favourites.

Wordless Wednesday – Well, very nearly.

The gadren is springing into life and I’m slowing getting back on top of it.

It’s all looking rather tatty still – my ‘new’ extra chicken coop is still sat on the lawn and the dismantled Wendy house remains propped up against the garage. But plant wise things are coming along nicely.

We’ve finally made some progress with the forest garden extension. Although, the silver birches are still only heeled in and until they are in properly no inter planting can be done. Thankfully, I have lots of young plants I can move about. It shouldn’t take much to fill it.

Anyway, here are some assorted pics of the garden.

One of the young silver birch trees (Betula pendula)

One of the young silver birch trees (Betula pendula)

Rhubarb 'Victoria'

Rhubarb ‘Victoria’

Blackcurrant 'Ben Lomond' (Ribes nigrum 'Ben Lomond')

In the background the extended forest garden, yet to be planted up. In the foreground Blackcurrant ‘Ben Lomond’ (Ribes nigrum ‘Ben Lomond’), sweet violets, wild garlic, alpine strawberries, plus a few others

Raspberries 'Autumn Bliss'

Raspberries ‘Autumn Bliss’

The weeping mulberry (Morus alba 'Pendula')

The weeping mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’)

Red currant, Medlar 'Nottingham' (staked), Blackcurrant 'Ben Lomond', Columbines, Alpine strawberries, wild garlic, Lemon balm, Rhubarb 'Victoria', plus others.

Red currant, Medlar ‘Nottingham’ (staked), Blackcurrant ‘Ben Lomond’, Columbines, Alpine strawberries, wild garlic, Lemon balm, Rhubarb ‘Victoria’, plus others.

The wildlife pond.

The wildlife pond.

Red gooseberry surrounded by spring bulbs (now over), columbines, alpine strawberries and some chard - a survivor from last year.

Red gooseberry surrounded by spring bulbs (now over), columbines, alpine strawberries and some chard – a survivor from last year.

So good to see green again!

So good to see green again!

Rhubarb 'Timperley Early'

Rhubarb ‘Timperley Early’

The honeysuckle swag, finally beginning to 'swag' :)

The honeysuckle swag, finally beginning to ‘swag’ :)

Wineberry trained along the fence. Part of the unfinished forest garden extension in the background.

Wineberry trained along the fence. Part of the unfinished forest garden extension in the background.

Chives, Salad burnet and another straggler chard from last year. Vinca major flowering in the background.

Chives, Salad burnet and another straggler chard from last year. Vinca major flowering in the background.

Feverfew

Feverfew

Alchemilla mollis - one of my favourite plants.

Alchemilla mollis – one of my favourite plants.

Alpine strawberry

Alpine strawberry

Woodruff - looking promising. I'm hoping it will thicken up nicely this year.

Woodruff – looking promising. I’m hoping it will thicken up nicely this year.

For the first time ever the Honeyberry has flowered! Might have something to do with me having put it in the sun :blush:

For the first time ever the Honeyberry has flowered! Might have something to do with me having put it in the sun :blush:

A Belated Waes Hael!

We did our wassailing on Old Tweleveth Night this year because it was too wet and windy on 6th January. We still got wet, lol.

We didn’t go to an event this year, (the one we’d planned to go to was held on 6th), we just wassailed our garden fruit trees. Still jolly good fun. We wassailed the bantams too :)

 Harriet helping wassail the fruit trees (the weeping mulberry is our lead tree).

H helping wassail the fruit trees (the weeping mulberry is our lead tree).

Where was I…

My break from blogging has coincided with my break from doing anything much other than ‘getting by’. But poor health and ‘stuff’, and if I’m truthful a little bit of wallowing, have stood in the way for too long now. It’s time to plough on regardless.

It’s not all been doom and gloom though. For one thing I’ve done a lot of walking and exploring. This has been useful as it has helped me realise what makes me feel happy and where I feel comfortable. Sadly, it means that within the next two or three years I’m going to have to leave the garden I’ve created and the house that 5 generations of our family have lived in. If I could pick it up and moved it I would. But it’s the place that’s the problem and the reality is it will only get worse.

H is now completely homeschooled. I’m glad she went all through Waldorf kindergarten, I don’t regret that at all. But I’m convinced homeschool is the right choice or her, certainly for now. We’re all really enjoying it.

L took her first IGCSE in the summer (at 14) and passed with a B. We’re all very proud of her and it has given her confidence in her abilities. She plans to take another two this summer and then another two or three in 2015. (She needs 5 at grade C to get onto the course she wants at FE college).

As for the garden, there have been a few changes. We took the old Wendy House down before it really started to rot (the floor and roof were starting to go). H didn’t actually play in it much this Summer anyway, so it wasn’t a huge wrench. Rather than replace it we have decided to extend the forest garden bed and to plant three silver birches. The idea being that should the neighbours at the back ever cut down their winter strawberry tree, which gives us both a lot of privacy, then at least there will be something growing in it’s place. Of course, I did all this before I was set on moving :sigh:

Oh, and we had a litter of cavies in early September. They are very sweet.

The babies

The babies

Just A Few Pics

Still no word on the allotment. Possibly just as well as I’m mysteriously lame at the moment. :sigh:

Managed to take a few cuttings of next door’s Japanese Quince. I’ve popped them in a pot with a plastic bag on top. Fingers crossed they take.

The Daubenton’s Kale cuttings seemed be doing O.K, and sure enough when I lifted one out there were a few roots. I’ve left the others in place but placed the one I lifted in the ground. Hope it isn’t too soon. Time will tell.

L and I have also done some potting up. We moved the Chilean Guava into larger pots and the Honeyberries too. I moved some self seedlings around, mostly columbines, but I also discovered very healthy looking strawberry tree and honeysuckle seedlings. I’ve left them in place for now. Very pleased about the honeysuckle as it is a seedling of my favourite honeysuckle, which I think is L.japonica var. repens.

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Daubenton’s Kale cutting planted out

Bumble bees (one very tiny one)

Bumble bees (one very tiny one and one very striking one in black and burnt orange)

Coming along - edibles in camera shot include: chives, strawberries, alpine strawberries, gooseberry, garlic, shallots, welsh onions and apple (Ellison's Oragne) against the fence.

Coming along – edibles in camera shot include: chives, strawberries, alpine strawberries, gooseberry, garlic, shallots, welsh onions and apple (Ellison’s Orange) against the fence.

Edibles from left to right: Medlar 'Nottingham', Redcurrant, Wineberry over hazel arch, Alpine strawberries and Sage (in front of the Lavendar).

Edibles from left to right: Medlar ‘Nottingham’, Redcurrant, Wineberry over hazel arch, Alpine strawberries and Sage (in front of the Lavendar).