Yesterday I had my first strawberries! They were delicious although they’d only had one 501 spraying. We worked hard on remaking the beds, dug the soil right out and added a lot more composted cow manure as well as rock dust. I also added quite a bit of the soil I made from the lawn edgings; that had all been done with 500 several times over the winter while it was standing in its tump. The work was all well worth it for that totally orgasmic taste of the first fruits yesterday, no sugar, no cream, just strawberry.
It’s looking like a good year for them anyway. All the little wild ones are doing a treat in the bed down the side of the lawn; they’re all over the path in the veg garden on the other side too! Massive weeding required … sigh! And the semi wild jobs that seeded themselves under the sleeper at the top of the polytunnel bed are fruiting well too. I don’t know what they are but they’re bigger than the wild ones but not the same as the cultivated ones (Albion) that I have in the beds-proper. I’ll have to get up and do some 501 spraying on them on the 16th, 17th and 18th – good fruit days in the southern planting time so just right.
I’ll have to do the gooseberries again too, they’re just about ready to harvest, I had a couple as I was passing the bush the other day. I’m just hoping they’ll last that long and I’m not sure they will so I’m going to get up tomorrow, Wed and Thu and do a 501 on them then. Yes, I know, it’s northern planting time but I’ll have two out of the three right … morning and fruit day … it’ll just be the planting time that’s out, and I feel very strongly that the gooseberries will be too far gone to pick if I leave them for another nine days. The mornings are gorgeous right now anyway, the birdsong begins from just before four o’clock, I’m awake enjoying it, so getting up to stir is an extra joy. There’s something about that stillness before dawn, the scent of the ground and the sweetness of the roses and the mock orange, a warm cup of tea between the fingers. Then the first trill, often the Robin, or else the blackbird or the thrush; then the stillness after while all the birds and creatures listen to the silence; then he trills again. By the third trill they all join in. It’s magnificent. Yes, I’ll be up to stir tomorrow.
I must go round the garden today to check who else needs a fruit spraying and mark them down for either tomorrow or next week. Or both … there was a big shout in my mind’s ear then, ‘Hey! Why not both?’ Well, if the garden says she needs it, I’m game, she knows better than me what she wants.
I’ve still got to mark out who needs what though. Some plants, like the tomatoes, haven’t quite set fruit yet so I shan’t do them. They’re not in the right state for it yet, you can feel it when you sense into the plants; to me they sort of wriggle and go ‘Noooo!’ at me. But the apples have set fruit and the damsons, and the hawthorn.
The elder is just on the turn. I made elderflower cordial last week on the Flower days, 24-25-26 of May. It turned out very well indeed, I put down 10 bottles to store. There is more elder still coming in the garden, I might even make some more, everyone loves it and I’ve given a couple of bottles away already. There’ll be enough left to go to berries for the birds (and for me for the berry cordial), and the bees have been harvesting it like mad too.
Had a good Root conversation with a friend just recently; her Mum grows potatoes and one lot are going too much to leaf which means too much nitrogen amongst other things so the spuds are not putting their energy into making lots of new spuds but into looking gorgeous and green and blousy above the ground. She needs to turn that around. What I’ve done before is to use 501 on a Root day in the Afternoon. Yay, all upside-down to “what the books say” but think what you want to do. The energy is all going upwards and into the leaves; you want to draw it back down again into the roots. And it’s the plant-forming energy, the stuff that 501 works with, not the root-forming and soil-working energy that 500 works with.
I’ve done this before with other plants – getting foxgloves to flower a month late so they looked good at the RHS show in 2006 was the first big time we tried it. It worked a treat; we had a mass of foxgloves looking right at their best in early July, bang on time for the show. We did it again the following year with verbascums. The concept was that the plants would naturally put all their energy into their flowers for June, to line up with getting themselves pollinated by the bees and setting seed in good time for self-sowing in the autumn, lying up in the soil over the winter, then burgeoning forth in the spring with new plants. The 501 on root days in the afternoon asked them to put the energy back down into their roots, which also strengthened them for the hot baking weather we had in both the Julys. When it got near the time we wanted them to flower we gave them 501 on a flower day in both the southern and northern planting times. This sparked them into pushing the energy back upwards again and getting the flowers going. They did look a treat and got us a medal!
We’ll see how it works with my friend’s Mum’s spuds. I’ll be up there (Scotland) in August and look forward to eating some of them.
behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …