raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Well well, we haven't been here for a while, have we? Since my last post I've been clearing the garden of summer growth, old plants, leaves and rubbish, and to celebrate I had a big bonfire. It made plenty of ash, so that's been scattered around the fruit trees and bushes, and dug into the soil. Small pleasures please small minds...

The plums here were really quite poor this year; when I think of how many jars of jam my dad used to make, as well as plum crumbles to fill our hungry tums throughout the early autumn, I wonder whether that tree is getting to be past its fell-by date. The culprit was mostly brown rot, a fungal disease that spreads with rain from old fruit left on the branches. It spreads really quickly and ruins the crop in days; it's quite sad really. But don't get me wrong, I did have quite a few pounds of plums to make chutney with, and to give away to friends, family and neighbours, so perhaps it's just nostalgia speaking.

I was quite pleased with my potato harvest; I dug around 20 lbs this year -- all DesireƩ -- from the two beds I used; 'Bonfire' and 'Strawberry 1'. They were mostly quite small, though I did get some larger ones too. The soil in those beds in more suited to root crops than the heavy clay of 'West', though I'm slowly improving the soil structure in the latter. The quality is much better this year too; I didn't notice as much scab and there was hardly any other pest damage (though see later), though the ants did some superficial damage to those in 'Bonfire'.

I took down the WendyHaus in two sessions; it was really easy this time. The plastic covering was still in good condition, which I put down to the location of the top ridge in the centre rather than the edge. I think the location, tucked into a corner between a wall and a hedge, really helped too. I could have left it alone but I'm sure the wind would have wrecked it eventually and whisked it off to grace some unsuspecting neighbour's television aerial, satellite dish, or tree. Besides, the tomato plants inside wouldn't have withstood the first frost on (iirc) 23rd November, so they had to go. Nothing lasts forever; not even tomato plants!

The local moggies have been neglecting their duties. This autumn, I found two mice nesting in the alcove beside the house, right at the back inside an old tea chest beneath all my junk. In fact I'd had the same problem in the summer when I chucked the one mouse I found there into the garden. It must have found itself a mate and returned; the little gits had ripped up some carrier bags and dried poppy heads, though they didn't damage anything important. They'd been eating my potato harvest, which I stored in the adjacent shed. Fortunately they hadn't been there long (only two or three days) and hadn't reproduced, but they damaged a lot of my spuds and I've had to move the crop indoors. I might not have minded if they'd been paying me rent. They've been evicted now; I emptied the tea chest in the road and the little shits ran off, hopefully into the mouth of a passing cat. That'll teach me to leave the garden door open!

So that's about it for this year's garden waffle. The garlic is sown and growing. The pea plants are still up and flowering, although I doubt I'll get my hoped-for late seed crop. There's polytunnel planning and building to be done, and I'm hoping to pave some of the grass immediately outside the garden door. There's the usual umm-ing and ahh-ing about what-to-put-where, what to grow, what to abandon and all that stuff to worry about over winter. So I'm heading back under the duvet where it's warm and leaving the garden to the crows, blackbirds, thrushes, robins and hopefully the local cats -- rather them than a mouse infestation!

Happy Winter, Livejournal.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Summer has come at last and I'm beginning to feel as though all my hard(ish) gardening work is paying off. I've begun harvesting Golden Sweet mangetout pods since late May. Golden Sweet is a very beautiful variety of manegetout pea. Its tall plants produce bi-colour purple flowers the turn slowly blue as they mature. These are followed by pale yellow pods, which gradually fill with tender, sweet green peas making it a dual-purpose variety. Everyone I've shown them to loves them and it's not difficult to see why.Cut for boringness etc )

I've invested in a 22-Gallon water butt, which I've set up to capture run-off from my flat roof. Since I installed it we've only been blessed with a short, sharp night-time shower.
Water butt
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raspberryfool: (Gardening)
The garden looks particularly lovely this time of the year, especially since the weather decided to edge the thermometers back above the ten-degree mark. On Thursday, I looked out from my bedroom to see the lilac in its full glory. You can also see that I've been busy with building stuff, more of which later.

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My garden has lots of bluebells, which my father planted to brighten up the drab spaces. There are both Spanish and English types, and even some pink and white ones scattered around in odd corners. They look particularly good in the morning, with contre-jour lighting:

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Inside, the tomato and bean plants have been growing quite tall, and were clearly longing to get their roots into some good, warm soil. Here are the windowsill crew looking wistfully out of the windows:

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So I decided to get busy and plant them out, but not before building the tomato shelter. I've been a little more adventurous than the usual sheets of polythene tied to poles. I bought nine bent cane supports from a pound shop, about a mile of string and I used the sheeting from last year to construct a mini-greenhouse. The point is to keep off the rain, which can lead to late blight infection if the plants remain wet for long periods. I planted out the plants today after their week's hardening off period; hopefully we won't now get a series of hard frosts that will send me scurrying out to protect my babies:

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Remember the rascally rabbit I wrote about last time? To stop it munching its way through my entire stock of pea plants I built a fence around 'Midsummer' plot:

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The rabbit actually disappeared for a few days; I hardly saw it last week but it appeared again today as healthy as ever. It's acting much more like a wild rabbit now and it's more wary of my presence. Perhaps the local cats have been chasing it around! I think it's a doe anyway, it has that cute, 'butter-wouldn't-melt' look that only females can muster! The final picture shows some of the damage it did; the plants in the centre and lower right are the youngest and obviously the most tender. Luckilly they've just started to recover, putting out new leaves.

peacage2


Tomorrow, I'll plant out the rest of my French beans inside the 'Midsummer' cage, then I'll sit back and watch my bountious harvest develop...
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
On Saturday last, whilst looking through my kitchen window, I saw a rabbit sitting in the garden. I went out to look closer; it didn't run off as soon as it saw me, but waited until I was about 4 feet away, which told me it was somebody's pet. It couldn't get past my southern neighbour's fence and it couldn't get out into the allotments. Hoping it would find its own way home, I went about my business until late afternoon.

But it was still there, munching away happily on my grass, so I knocked on a few doors. A woman seven doors down turned out to be the owner; she'd bought it in November as a "house rabbit", but it wrecked her house so she built it a run in the garden – obviously not very successfully. She came up to my garden but neither of us could catch the bloody thing; apparently it's called "Binky" – I'd run away if somebody called me that! That night I was chatting over the fence to an allotment holder who has killed thousands of rabbits; he saw it and said it was a wild rabbit. However it probably wouldn't survive for very long in the wild.

By Sunday, it had found my growing pea plants and was munching away on them. There's not much I can do about this apart from shooing it off. The allotment holder said he'd lend me a live trap but hasn't, so I erected a barrier around part of the "Midsummer" plot from glass and boards which seems to work. I was hoping that without access to the peas it would get bored or hungry and go elsewhere but it got to work on my strawberry plants. I can't keep it off the strawberries because the plot is too large and I don't have anything to surround it with. So I took to shooing it off – where's Elmer Fudd when you need him?

Yesterday it was still around. Clearly frustrated by the lack of pea access it had somehow got through the southern neighbour's fence and was busy exploring their garden. I couldn't block up the access to my garden because they have a dog, which is usually let out each evening. As it happens I was cutting the lawn when their French door opened. A few minutes later, the rabbit came shooting through a tiny gap in the fence, straight across my garden and under the hedge! I'd never seen it move so quickly, even when I shooed it off. I didn't see it today so hopefully it's found its way home and learnt that it's better off there! However I'm not taking any chances; the pea fence will remain for a while at least. Now if only it could be taught to eat dandelions, slugs and snails...