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GWM – Burgeoning garden

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.

Elder flowers

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.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

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GWM: Hard frosts & Spring

Lilac tree in May ... wait for it 🙂

More hard frost this morning, beautiful. We need to keep feeding the birds as they get into mating and laying. the Buzzards are out, calling high over the stubble fields, rousing the spirit with their eerie cry. Despite the frosts the leaf-buds have burst on the lilac tree! Spring is definitely here 🙂 I’m so looking forward to when the tree flowers … and scents up the whole garden.

I’ve managed to turn quite a bit of earth that needed it in the beds, so the frosts are working on that soil, it will be good and crumbly in another week or ten days. It’s just so good to have my hands in the soil again – tha bad back from over-gardening at the beginning of Feb was a “show stopper” for all the wrong reasons :-(. I’ve done a lot of weeding in the past few days and things are coming together, looking like a garden again.

I need to get black membrane on the veg beds to warm them up. these frosts aren’t helping that at all but the bright sun on the black with absorb the heat and transmit it into the soil. As lots of veg are growing away well in pots indoors I’ll need the beds in a couple of weeks. One polytunnel is up, over a bed, so that is warming up nicely inside. I must get the other one up soon …

Jo and Roy are coming to help get the greenhouse glazed at last. It’s taken a year! Various folk have said they’d help but it’s all been wishful thinking so far and so frustrating to have the frame of the damn thing but not be able to use it! they’re both such fun and so helpful. Jo’s a great garden designer and I hope to get over there in a couple of weeks to get some pix of her place over by Goodrich Castle. She’s done wonders with it and now the trees have gone in the whole shape of the place is coming together … watch this space …

Onward and upward, as they say, a gardener’s work is never done … but that’s at least half the fun :-).

GWM – March 2011

Catkins on my twisted hazel

 

Spring is just about to spring! We’re just coming into this month’s Northern Planting Time (NPT), that happens on Saturday 12th March with the Moon reflecting the earth-sign of Taurus the Bull.

Vegetable Garden

This is a good time to get sowing if you haven’t already, especially root crops like turnips, swedes, parsnips, early carrots and to get those spuds you’ve been chitting into the ground. You’ll need to cover the spud-bed with fleece in most areas unless you live far enough south to be past your last frost date. It’s worth it though, to get the spuds started, especially the first earlies, so you have some to harvest along with the first peas and broad beans for a lovely warm salad.

Forsythia

I already have swedes and turnips coming in pots on the window-ledge but I’m going to get some early carrots started in boxes in the polytunnel. A fairly deep box is fine for them, especially if you choose an early variety like Amsterdam Forcing or Nantes 2. The Nantes – my favourite carrot – grow to about 16cm so your box needs to be a good 20+cm deep. I usually use one about 25cm deep. If you use a cardboard box then this can be dug into the ground once it’s warm enough and will rot down around the growing carrots so there’s no need to disturb them and cause deformed growth or flagging. This is a good trick to use with lots of veg.

  • Do remember though that you can sow anything on a root day – all plants have roots, need roots in order to grow, so they will get the benefit of root-day sowing.
  • You go on to cultivate – transplant, weed, hoe, generally care for – on the day relevant to the veg; e.g. fruit-day for peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers; leaf-day for cabbages, celery, leeks, lettuces; flower-day for broccoli, cauliflower, purple and green sprouting.
  • And, of course, you spray each with 501 on their relevant day too.

New Bed …

I found I really need yet another veg bed – who doesn’t? There was a piece of border along by the path in front of the house which was absolutely full of couch grass and buttercups suffocating the lovely plants I want like hardy geraniums, a blue aquilegia, lungworts and a pretty miniature rose. As soon as I could get out at the end of January I dug the whole lot out, potted up the plants I want and put the rest on the compost heap. I gave the whole lot a spray of 500 and covered it up with black membrane to warm it up and keep the weeds down.

I think I want to put the early broad beans in here so it’s now time to get a trench dug, bung in a good layer of bokashi and any other compost I have to spare and maybe a bit of manure. A layer of earth goes on top of the plant-food-layer, it’s no good putting seeds o

r plant roots straight onto hot compost! After a day or two I’ll sow the broad beans into the trench and put a row of pea-sticks to either side of each row – this has two purposes; to hold the plants upright when they get tall enough and to keep the kitties off! Nothing like a good hedge of pea-sticks to keep venturesome kitties at bay :-).

I’ll probably succession-plant this bed when the beans have gone with some autumn cabbages. If there’s a gap between those two I’ll fill it with some lettuces.

Flower Garden

Hellebore in the new bed

I’m also having a heave-ho in the flower garden too. Of course, there’s lots of weeding to be done now the plants are coming up and I can tell the difference between what I want and nettles, creeping buttercup and other weeds … definitely plants in the wrong place :-).

I had a go at that this afternoon and discovered that the heavy work I did last year had been effective, there were a lot less horrors than I’d feared. The worst problem was wretched purple loosestrife! This stuff, while lovely in a wild setting, seeds like it’s going out of fashion and always where you don’t want the darn things! And, just to make things worse, it has a creeping root-system of good thick stuff, belt and braces, seeds and rhizomes, just to make sure its genes get spread all over the garden. I was wondering whether to pot the things up and sell them at next month’s Farmers’ Market but I suspect my fellow gardeners are well aware of the problems and wouldn’t want them.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife is a problem-plant too, an in-comer from North America. It can choke our waterways and won’t do your pond too much good unless you’re willing to drastically cut it back every year and pull the roots out too.

I managed to get just about all I could see out but I know there will be some roots left so it’s a case of being vigilant and getting in there to dig them out as soon as I see them. Ho hum … a gardener’s work is never done :-).

The flower beds benefitted greatly from the cold and the snow. Last year’s vegetation disappeared and clearing has been very easy. The new growth is coming through nicely despite it still being cold with hard frosts some recent nights I’ve not pulled too much off the herbaceous perennials so it still mulches them, keeps the frost from damaging, killing, the lovely spring growth. This is something to remember – if you clear up too much and too quickly then you can seriously damage your plants! Nature knows, this is why there’s lots of “untidy” litter around in nature, it has the purpose of guarding the new growth from the frosts that are likely to go in until May in this garden.

Daffy Down Dillies

It does feel like everything is bubbling in the earth, the sprouting growth bursting out of the pot, the earth-cauldron, shortly to froth into blossom. I love this season :-).

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Twin Taverns Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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GWM – Fire

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We had fire today … I burned the huge heap. It was marvellous, took just a couple of hours and left me with excellent wood ash for the garden. And a fire for the Triple Goddess, Brighid at her season of Imbolc.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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