Monthly Archives: September 2014

Jobs for the weekend

It is hump day so tomorrow you will be on a slide to the end of the week, the weekend is looming on the horizon and I can just see it peeping through.

So on or around Wednesday I like to make a list of gardening jobs for the weekend. It helps me stay focused and ensure I do not procrastinate which is so easy when pottering around in the garden.

Here is my list for this weekend:

Plant up Hyacinth bulbs – A very quick and easy job which welcomes in spring with a rainbow of colours.  They look lovely in garden borders when not much else has started to bloom but look equally beautiful in rustic terracotta pots on the patio.

Prune your roses – Roses should stop flowering around now, get the secateurs out and give them a good pruning ready for new growth.

Rake up leaves – Leaves make fantastic mulch in your vegetable beds. Rake them up and start putting on the allotment or vegetable patch.  Remember to save some for your bean trench in the spring.

Save your seeds – My Grandad always saved seeds at the end of the year, saves a fortune on next years sowing. See the Seed saving checklist for information.

Plant winter veg – You can start to plant out your broad beans, hardy peas, garlic, winter cabbages, over-wintering onions.

Take fruit cuttings – Fruit bushes need a good trim this time of year so take hardwood cuttings to expand your own fruit bushes or pass on to friends and family.

One final little thing I like doing this time of year when I have finished an afternoon of gardening jobs is make myself up a large mug of hot chocolate with some marshmallows and a chocolate flake, wrap myself in a blanket and sit and look at how much I have achieved this year whilst letting inspiration take me over thinking up new ideas for next year.


Raised beds?

Next year I have decided to go down the route of raised beds.

I spent this year battling with weeds after a slipped disc which saw me off my feet for nearly 3 months.  Writing out endless instructions for my husband when he went down there and dragging in the kids to help is fine short term but once they have a couple of weeks they cannot go things just go mad. So 3 weeks ago I went down there after scarcely enough time down there. Fortunately I had managed to grow loads, it was my first year growing leeks which was very successful.  It was also my first year of successfully growing peas.

Prior to this I had moaned yearly that my peas never came to much and the ones that did didn’t feed us for too long, but this year a bumper crop.

Anyway after getting down there and realising how much things had got out of hand I was quite despondent.  Yes I had grown a lot, I had a lot of fruit, an overflowing compost heap, a nice large space to work with however the weeds had got out of control over a couple of short weeks of no one getting down there.

The earth there isn’t great, the weeds love it but the root veg hate it and I have had endless crops of split and damaged veg.  So onward and upward and I ordered in the raised beds.  I spent last week putting 20 or so together and I have compost arriving Monday to fill them.  I have done a ton of weeding, covered the area with weed control and have a plan in place.

On top of all of that a nice fellow over the way came over and gave me a helping hand on the plot and started weeding an area for me. People are so kind. I still have more to finish and I will order more raised beds next week and take the collection of leaves down to put a good coverage over the top for the winter.  I will also get some manure delivered for some of the raised beds (obviously not the root veg).

Anyone else gone down the root of raised beds? Any particular reason why?


On the hedge

Many of us will remember spending our childhood foraging for greengages, berries and other tasty treats.  My nan lived near a large hill which was edged with endless lengths of blackberries.  We would spend many a weekend visiting going to collect blackberries. My nan was quite elderly so couldn’t come with us but would enjoy our arrival on a Sunday afternoon with a bowl of fresh berries to put in a pie or a crumble. Although we all know for every one that went in the bowl, two went in the mouth.

Edible hedgingIn 1945 there was an estimated 500,000 miles of thriving hedgerow in Britain, by 1993 half of these had been destroyed in the name of agricultural improvement. My Dad remembers seeing Hop plants growing along the roads, nowadays Kent is possibly the only place you will find Wild Hops.

In recent years research has shown how important hedgerows are for a successful eco-system.  Growing your own hedge supports birdlife, bees, hedgehogs and various insects bringing your garden to life and keeping unwanted pests at bay. Hedges are a colourful addition to the family and you will be rewarded with a bounty of fruit throughout the year for puddings, jams and chutneys.

A few suggestions I have to try for edible hedging are:

  • Hazelnuts
  • Blackberries
  • Rosehips
  • Sloes
  • Greengages
  • Damsons
  • Elderberries
  • Raspberries
  • Wild Cherries
  • Crab Apples

Hedging such as Blackberries, Damsons, Elderberries, Sloes and Rosehips are quite prolific on road sides in the wild but always be careful what you are picking because there are berries which can be dangerous and you wouldn’t want to confuse them and give yourself a spate in hospital.  I will cover Foraging in a later post.