Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Just For The Record




Before autumn’s cobwebs well and truly descend time for a recap of what has been happening or not at the allotment. The weather has been challenging to say the least. The long cold winter meant that it was late in the day before any serious seed sowing began but some benign spring weather kick started everything off quite fortuitously.

I think that I have finally got my head round the art of what distance to leave between various crops when I plant them at the lottie. It has only taken five years! I now know that I can fit five French beans in across the raised beds whilst six shallots will rub along nicely head and shoulders together. Tasks that used to be a matter of serious measuring on the whole can now be accomplished by eye.

The year’s successes? Without a doubt it has to be the strawberries. The plants were given to me as runners by my lottie neighbours in the late summer of 2008. I potted them up in a hurry, before we went on holiday that year and planted them in the ground in late spring of 2009. This year they produced more than enough strawberries for us. Throughout June we dined on strawberries most evenings as well as passing them on to neighbours and friends. I almost got to the stage when I never wanted to look another strawberry in the face again and was almost gleefully pleased to turn my back on what was left of them when we went on holiday in July.

The other satisfying crop was the shallots -bought from Wilkos but annoyingly I  have forgotten to record the variety. From less than half a raised bed we now have over a couple of hundred shallots to enhance winter stews, casseroles and soups. I will save some of the smallest ones to plant in the spring. Other successes this year included courgettes - ‘Romanesco’ fared better than ‘Green Bush’, French beans flourished including the new to me dwarf 'Stanley’ and my tomatoes did so much better than last year’s dismal showing. Note to self ~ grow ‘Czech’s Excellent Yellow’ and ‘Ferline’ again but not’ Japanese Black Trifele’.

In the iffy category - garlic - some absolute monsters but also some diminutive heads - quite puzzling as all planted in the same area and no pattern to their final size.

There were of course disappointments - peas and potatoes did not flourish. I have never grown potatoes in the ground before only in containers. Whether it was the dry spring and early summer that did not agree with them I don’t know but the yield was poor. I will try again next year. The other challenge I set myself this year was to master successional cropping but have to admit failure as far as this objective is concerned. Life has been a bit topsy- turvy since May, so sometimes there has been unplanned physical distance between myself, greenhouse and the allotment. Still there’s always next year. In the meantime I will soon be setting down to some serious reading of the new catalogues, as well as a couple of new books which look as if they might be influential and inspirational when it comes to making my plans for a new season.






Thursday, 23 September 2010

'What A Good Year For The Roses'


I returned yesterday from a visit to my parents. Sadly my father was diagnosed with vascular dementia last year and seems to be slipping away each time I visit. A bad fall in May which resulted in a broken hip has hindered his mobility and he seems to have gone downhill since. Whilst I was with them he was unwell and was admitted into an intermediate care centre. I am not sure how long he will be there and indeed wonder if he will be well enough to return home again.

Dad has always taken much pleasure from their garden. He sees this rose from his armchair near the window in the living room. He thinks that it is the best rose he ever planted. Although Dad struggles so much now with his short term memory he told me quite clearly on Saturday, that this rose needs pruning after it flowers earlier in the year, so that it will have a second flush later on. I wondered whether whether it is because that he is so fond of this rose that he could remember those facts. The intricacies of how the brain works are an amazing phenomenon which never cease to amaze.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ September 2010

I know I'm late but Wednesday's combination of gusty wind and spitty spotty rain completely thwarted me.  I did get out though in the garden yesterday afternoon to photograph these two late flowering hardy geraniums which give me much pleasure at this time of year  ~


The first is geranium wallichianum 'Buxton's Variety', also known as 'Buxton's Blue' which is in flower here from July to the first frosts. It has a trailing habit and is one of those unassuming plants that just gets on and does without needing much fuss or attention. It produces a modest number of seeds for me, which if sown in early April in a cold greenhouse will produce flowering plants the same year.

Another more vigorous trailer/scrambler is geranium 'Salome' which starts off each year as a neat mound of attractive golden leaves before sending out a myriad of long stems. Again it is in flower for a considerable spell - from midsummer onwards until those first frosts. It can be propagated by taking stem cuttings early in the season well before it comes into flower ~



Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is kindly hosted each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens ~ do visit if you have not already done so and be certain to add to your wish list.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Interlude

I IS FOR?


I'M JUST KIPPING !
UNTIL L ~ with a couple of hectic weeks on the horizon I am taking a short break from posting to ABC Wednesday.

Some imaginative, informative and inspiring posts on the letter I can be identified over at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, 13 September 2010

All In A Pickle

It seems that I only have to open a magazine at the moment, visit blogs, delve into Twitter and the whole world is at it ~ everywhere people are pickling, chutneying, conserving, preserving, jellying, jamming and canning etc., etc. I have to confess to feeling somewhat inadequate in this department. To date the sum of my activities has been to stew a glorious mound of damsons, which are now neatly boxed off and residing in the freezer, waiting to be consumed in the depths of winter. I remember uttering the words 'Never again !!!' after fishing out the endless stones which laughed me at me last year as they played a game of hide and seek in the pan. Well last year is an age ago and of course how could I walk past damsons on the market fruit and veg stall last week ? So I came home with a few pounds worth, rolled my up my sleeves and braced myself for all those stones only to come across a more painful occupational hazard. This year I have burnt my lips whilst testing the sweetness of the hot bubbling damson stew as it bubbled on the hob. I now sport a fat lip and look as if I have emerged from several rounds in a boxing ring. The words 'Never again!!!' have certainly been uttered again and this time with some considerable vehemence.

In the meantime I might rectify my reputation as a domestic goddess I have plans to make some chutney soon and did discuss the possibility of making some elderberry wine with himself. In some ways I am pleased that himself is not too keen on the idea as the elders feature prominently in the view from my kitchen window. I have been enjoying watching the berries glistening in the rain this weekend as I watched blackbirds feast on them -  surely it would be mean to deprive them of such a banquet.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Palm Trees

H IS FOR?

HANDS!
Reaching out to the sky on the shores of Derwentwater in the Lake District, these fine hands greet passing ramblers ~
















Don't hesitate to hurry to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter H!  

Monday, 6 September 2010

End Of Month View - August 2010


I am not sure what happened to June and July's end of month view and August's was nearly censored. However the fact that a steel bench happened to occupy centre stage means this is a warts and all view. If nothing else looking at it will serve as a salutary reminder to myself of what I need to do before winter sets in. The bench was there as a window was being replaced. With some under the breath muttering in himself's direction, I had to clear room for action, so some serious cutting back ensued. Somewhere in there is a eupatorium which sadly will now not flower this autumn. Also on the casualty list is a newly planted hellebore which is now in intensive care. However everything else has survived with a few minor bruises.

At this time of year the border is very shady - the branches of a large willow tree (top left), which is outside the perimeter of our garden, creep into view as the year progresses. The yellow thug which I tried to eradicate earlier in the year is still making its presence known albeit in a quieter fashion. More digging out of aforesaid thug is required. The fatsia japonica is heading for a new home if it will transplant as it has begun to obscure the view from inside the house. Is it too big to move successfully? I am thinking of planting a rose and a clematis in its place. Other plants need thinning out and/or dividing/repositioning - namely brunnera, geranium phaeum and campanula persicifolia so my things to do list is getting longer and longer. We also need to top up the soil level which has shrunk over the years. So the next time you see my end of month view it may be even more depleted than it is now but hopefully I will be feeling more positive about it.

With many thanks to The Patient Gardener who invites us to share our views each month - I am finding it a most useful opportunity to take stock and form an action plan.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day ~ September 2010.

With apples very much in my activities and thoughts at the moment, I have gone fruity for my September muse ~ this poem celebrates our rich heritage of apple varieties ~ 


The Apple War
'The storm troops have landed,
The red and the green,
Their pips on their shoulders,
Their skin brilliantine.

Uniform, orderly,
Saleable, ambitious –
Sala and Granny
And Golden Delicious.

Quarter them, they’re tasteless;
They’ve cotton-wool juice,
But battalions of thousands
Routinely seduce.


In shy hen-haunted orchards
Twigs faintly drum,
Patient as partisans
Whose time has almost come,

From Worcester and Somerset,
Sussex and Kent,
They’ll ramble singing,
A fruity regiment.

Down with Cinderella’s kind,
Perfect toxic, scarlet;
Back comes the old guard
Costard, Crispin, Russet.

James Grieve, Ashmead Kernel,
Coppin, Kingston Black –
Someone has protected them.
They’re coming back.' 



~ UA Fanthorpe, 1929 - 2009

Garden Blogger's Muse Day is hosted on the first day of each month by Carolyn Choi over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.