Gardening Dilemmas
0 comment Saturday, July 12, 2014 |
I wonder if the lads from DTEP would murder me...
I've put in the hollyhocks with some "help" from sproggo. They're growing near the fence now, the tom growhouses to one side and wumpyhouse to the other. This will be their permanent position (next year I'll be moving the growhouses) but the bed could really do with border definition, especially as these hollyhocks aren't really going to grow much this year. I'm probably going to use the flints from the ground here - after all, they're free and they're EVERYWHERE. However, I've managed to pick up all the flints that I could see, so that's pretty much it for the moment. But, when the digger is back on 12 June, there will be a lot more soil getting ripped up and, therefore, even more flint exposed. So maybe they could pile up anything roughly cricket-ball sized and larger and I'll use that. But I cringe at the idea of the poor fellows muttering as they go picking up rock after rock. Dilemma! I'd be other there myself but that's a wumpy-day and I can't have sprog running around while the digger it outside. I'll get my courage up and ask. Once the topsoil is down I want to start defining the edges, as I can really only put beds along the fence - there's too much shade on the other side, which is unfortunate, but not necessarily a bad thing; once the hedge is cut down and shaped again, and the levelling is done, I can put a wee seating area beneath the apple tree and that will actually be a nice addition to the garden, I think. I'd like some big ferns for the corner beneath the huge tree - even though I'm pretty sure they'd end up being a dog-bed. The wumpy-garden spaces are blooming nicely; the snapdragons are doing their thing, to sprog's delight, and the dianthus are now starting to show some interest in opening up and having a look round. The lupins are trying to set flower whilst still in the pot! I still don't want to move these as I'm sure the limey soil will kill them, so I've got a pot reserved to put them in with some more acidic soil. The sunflowers are also doing quite well, although they're still rather smallish. Still, it's early, we still have loads of time for them to grow and already they're double the size they were originally. They're growing along the chainlink fence and so I'll have something to tie them to if need be (which may be soon).
Other dilemmas have involved the use of slug-pellets. No, I didn't like doing it, but I've tried all other options; eggshells, wood shavings, the lot. And all I've got for my pains is a bunch of bean-stalks without leaves, the stumps of basil, all the heads of my winter-crop carrots eaten down, and two swiss chard plants which are all that's left of my summer greens. So, I broke out the biodegradable slug pellets - they break down to iron and phosphorous after a few weeks, and kill only slugs and snails; everything else is fine, or at least that's the theory. I purchased from Tamar Organics so I know they'd not go selling something dubious without thorough checking, but I still felt a qualm putting the pellets everywhere. The qualm however was quickly assuaged as this morning I noted several very dead slugs lying around, which have been disposed of. The stuff does work, and isn't laced with dangerous chemicals which will kill slugs, snails, as well as anything that feeds on them, the nematodes in the soil, and so on. I probably should have used it sooner and saved my crops earlier. When the dilemma is feed the slugs OR feed my family (as it can't be both) then I'll choose family. Now, slug pellets are being applied everywhere necessary. I should be able to get a few pea-shoots this summer as a result; rather miserable crop, really but that's the way it is. I'll know better next year!
Other than that, everything allium is growing splendidly, so even if fresh greens are proving to be a laughable prospect, I will have onions and shallots for days on end. The potatoes are also growing very nicely, and I keep hilling them up with compost, grass clippings and shredded paper. We'll see how that does. The squash plants are having a VERY slow start thanks to the rather nasty frost doing them in. I'm surprised they survived and I rather doubt I'm going to get much out of them this year, but hope springs eternal. Failing that, I will hope for a warm summer and a chance that pumpkin growers here locally will have a good squash crop.
The toms and chillies are doing really well, setting fruit and getting a good dose of nettle tea every other week - I am hoping to curb the blight by not watering with rainwater, in the hope I won't be getting any of the spores if blight has made it to this area this year. The strawberries are setting nicely and the green fruit is swelling up and getting serious about ripening, even though they're rather late. I again had a third dilemma as I was out of nettle tea, yet I am painfully aware I need to fertilise these plants a lot for decent cropping and so - horror - I topped up between nettle tea with one application of Miracle-Gro. Yes, I know. But out of all the stuff I'm growing at the moment, strawberries are sprog's all-time favourite - and mine too! I often cannot afford to eat them like I want to, and instead reserve them for sprog. So, if I actually want to get any strawberries at all this year, I need the best crop possible, and that means not missing a feed! Never fear though, this weekend I'll start another batch of evil-smelling nettle tea, and will keep a proper rotation of the stuff on the ferment. In between I pile on the grass clippings to help get those nutrients in there. So far, so good. I'm trying not to do too much nitrogen, and may cut out the feeding soon.
Speaking of strawberries, this weekend if all goes well, I'm off for my first Pick-Your-Own of the year to gather as many strawberries as I possibly can. I'm looking to get several baskets packed with the fruits, for making wine, for freezing for winter consumption, and for stuffing myself over the next week or so. I may even try a strawberry/elderflower cordial if enough of the blooms open up for the next few days for me to give a go - really weird to have strawberries and elder flowers growing at the same time, but such is the weird weather climate up where I live that the elder tree hasn't opened up its blooms entirely yet! I'll be hoping to gather some up this weekend, and I'll be breaking out the muslin cloths for straining, as well as the wine bucket. It's been a while since I've done fruit wines so hopefully I manage without botching too badly!

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