Green Your Life

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Mud, Muck and Mayhem

Now that the soil has defrosted, it is time to get out into the garden and start on the preparations for the ‘vegetable growing season’!

Actually, I am quite proud of myself – I have some lettuces, radishes and onions in the greenhouse and some onions outside too – it will be a while before the onoins are ready, but one lettuce is nearly there!   The leeks from last year are looking a bit sorry for themselves after the frosts, but the chard is picking up again quite nicely.  So, in theory, I can keep some things in the garden going all year!  There are still some beetroot in the ground too – not sure what they will be like…..

Tiny bulb shoots peering out

Tiny bulb shoots peering out

The very back of my garden is divinely rich soil, but has been given over to bracken and nettles, with a lovely show of bulbs in the spring.  I had meant to dig it out in the autumn, but somehow life got in the way.  Last year, I had daffodils flowering right the way through January.  This year they are only starting to peek their green shoots above the ground and none of the other bulbs are venturing up much either.  It just shows the difference having a few days of hard frost in November, December and January make to the timing of spring plants.

A nettle-root mass. What do you do with them?

A nettle-root mass. What do you do with them?

I made a start on digging up the nettles as the afternoon faded to dusk.  I am always amazed at the length and tenacity of nettle roots.  They just spread everywhere and seem to grip the soil with incredible strength.  A mass of bulbs also came up, so as darkness fell I was finding other spots to plant these out amongst the wlidflower beds that line our back garden and throughout our front garden.

Pine needles waiting for a good composting location

Pine needles waiting for a good composting location

I had pruned the Scots Pine to allow more sunlight into the garden on a freezingly cold day a week or so back.  Yesterday my daughter and I clipped the smaller branches and collected them in a couple of boxes to allow them to compost to make acidic compost for the heather and a little for the strawberries.  Some of the mid-sized branches were burnt and the large ones kept to dry properly – perhaps will add them as long-term compost for a perma-culture bed.

Compost bays - 1 has sticks and twigs for a permaculture bed, the other is well rotted compost.

Compost bays – 1 has sticks and twigs for a permaculture bed, the other is well rotted compost.

The next job will be to sort out the compost – the well composted stuff needs to go out onto the beds and the fresher stuff needs to go down into the compost bay to rot more over the next few months.  It is hard to time this right.  At the moment the ground is really wet so digging is a bad idea (as is walking over it) and the compost may be leached by the time planting happens.

Milk bottles in the strawberry beds!

Milk bottles in the strawberry beds!

However, I need some more for my next section of strawberry bed – one year, I will have enough strawberries to make jam as well as feeding the ravenous strawberry-eating monsters (aka my kids).  This year, I am half burying 2L milk bottles into the strawberry beds in the hope that this will help to get water to the right places during dry periods.  Will let you know how that goes.

The wildflowers I planted in pots in the autumn have largely survived and soon will need to find a summer home.  Mostly in the front garden, but some in the back and will also plant some in amongst the vegetables to attract pollinators and pest-predators there.

So, though my vegetable garden currently looks like muddy mayhem, it is in fact a plan waiting to happen.

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These will be the large spring daisy’s – great for covering large areas. I will put them where I have a Mare’s Tail problem

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A mix of wild flowers, but mostly in the purple range. I must get to grips with what things are called! Ah well, so long as the bees and bugs like them

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The flowers in pots didn’t like the frost so much! Will see what manages to survive the next month or two before planting out.

 

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The Joy of Gardening

Much of the hard work has been done (well, except the weeding – that is never ending), and now the fun part of having a wildflower garden and a vegetable patch is here!

First in the wild flowers…..

Oldest section in 3rd summer of flowering, It starts in early spring and continues through to late autumn.

Oldest section in 3rd summer of flowering, It starts in early spring and continues through to late autumn.

Middle section with loads of flowers grown from seeds saved from last year - anyone know what the purple flowers are?

Middle section with loads of flowers grown from seeds saved from last year – anyone know what the purple flowers are?

Most recently dug and planted, courtesy of the wonderful Farnham Local Food along with our home-grown seeds

Most recently dug and planted, courtesy of the wonderful Farnham Local Food along with our home-grown seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Trefoil (I think) hiding in the grass with vetch seed pod ready to burst!

Lesser Trefoil (I think) hiding in the grass with vetch seed pod ready to burst!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This little bumble bee flitted between the flowers, fabulous to watch

This little bumble bee flitted between the flowers, fabulous to watch

Bugs or beetles enjoying this yellow flower

Bugs or beetles enjoying this yellow flower

Sitting and watching for just a few minutes and I could see lots of insects among the flowers. No idea what this one is though!

Sitting and watching for just a few minutes and I could see lots of insects among the flowers. No idea what this one is though!

Many of the wildflowers in my garden came from our fabulous Wildflower Seed Balls – the best time for planting wildflower seeds is early autumn or early spring, so you can start preparing a wildflower zone in your garden now!

Over in the veg garden, some things survived the slug invasion!  The wet spring and summer has not been kind to the gardener with little time to spare!

A whole punnet of strawberries from the garden - despite the slugs!  And a lovely lettuce

A whole punnet of strawberries from the garden – despite the slugs! And a lovely lettuce

‘Mummy, why do garden peas and strawberries taste so much better than shop ones?’ asked my (almost) 4 yr old!  Now if that is not ringing endorsement for growing your own, then I don’t know what is!

Sadly the strawberries are nearly over now – we have had a steady supply for about 3 weeks from mostly 1st year plants.  Punnets made their way to the kitchen, but I have no idea how some of my WI friends manage to make jam!! They must have acres of strawberries.

Peas did not do well this year – too many slugs!  However, getting a few off the plants and these add to the kids lunches.

Many-legged carrots - hard to clean and peel, but oh so tasty!

Many-legged carrots – hard to clean and peel, but oh so tasty!

Carrots just simply are not straight when they come from my garden!  They need to have at least 2 legs and appear to be in dire need of the toilet!

Beetroot is a great vegetable to grow - it hardly ever goes wrong and slugs don't seem that fond of it!

Beetroot is a great vegetable to grow – it hardly ever goes wrong and slugs don’t seem that fond of it!

Beetroots were roasted in the oven and then pickled – do love pickled beetroot and loads more ready to be picked too.  We have a spiralizer so plan to get some beetroot spirals – perhaps for a salad or stir fry!

The chard is coming on really well too – need to think of some more recipes for that as it lasts in the garden for ages!

There is still time for planting this year – quick growing things such as radishes, lettuce, beetroot, carrot (choose an autumn variety such as our Autumn King) can all be planted and harvested into the autumn.  They may need some protection though if frosts are predicted before harvesting.

Please do visit the Garden section of my shop (www.greenyourlife.co.uk)  to see how we can help you with your garden dreams.