Thursday, 26 November 2009

New plants from old

Just take a look at this sad-looking specimen.


It, along with a dozen or so similar plants, was ‘rescued’ from a rather neglected one-time ‘display’.  What, we wondered, had gone wrong.  The crisp brown flowers and the withered buds, not to mention the dusty soil that was as-dry-as-the-proverbial-bone pointed towards them not having been watered for a very long time.

But never mind.  Class 2i to the rescue!  Our job?  To give the plants a ‘hair-cut’, snipping off the crispy flowers and those withered buds…..


(just the crispy flowers and those withered buds mind)…..


being careful to keep our fingers…..


safely tucked out of the way.


You see, we needed to stop the poor plants from wasting precious energy trying to keep themselves covered in blooms, when actually they ought to be conserving their strength for the cold weather that is on its way (and incidentally, as I type this I am looking out at freshly snow-dusted pine trees).


The newly-trimmed plants were then tucked into some of our friable well-dug soil…..


and most-importantly, watered in.  There to over-winter.  And recuperate.

But, that was not all.  There were also trimmings from the rosemary bushes.  Far too much for Sunday’s roast lamb!  No, we were going to have a go at making (more) new plants from old.

First, grip a sprig of rosemary firmly in your hands.


Using your thumb, scrape off the leaves on the lower part of the stem.


Toss these into the bucket…..


later to be dumped onto the compost heap.  Next, snip the stem with a diagonal cut.


Finally, poke it into a pot of our famous soil…..


trickle on a dribble or two of water…..


and fingers crossed until spring!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Dig It!

We couldn’t help noticing during last week’s garlic-planting session, that in spite of our best efforts, the raised beds were looking a little squished.  In need of a bit more soil.

Thursday therefore, saw us stomping en ligne to a newly-acquired heap of healthy soil that had been dumped in an area under the trees.  Our job; to fill buckets with spades full of crumbly soil which would be lugged over and emptied on top of the needy beds.

First we would need to learn the correct back-saving way of using a ‘proper’ spade.


Grip the handle and then carefully place one booted foot on top of the blade.


Push gently so that the blade slides down into the soil. 


Wiggle the spade backwards and forwards to loosen the soil, and then, gripping the handle with two hands (while making sure you don’t forget to bend at the knees) carefully lift the spade, complete with its load of soil…..


and dump it into a bucket.  When a bucket is full, find a strong friend to help you carry it…..


across to the garden.


Keep your eyes open while digging – we don’t want too much grey sticky clay to end up in our soil-mix!


Thursday, 5 November 2009

The outdoors equivalent of housework

Now that the weather has taken a turn for the colder – and wetter - nothing much is growing at this time of year – other than the odd plant that escaped the harvest.  Like these potatoes, for example.


So November in the garden largely means the outdoors equivalent of housework.  There are leaves to be raked…..


and gathered up.


Herbs such as mint need to have their straggly stems cut back.


There are weeds to be pulled up.


All of which can be tossed into buckets…..


and dumped on the compost heap.  There may also be the odd plant that needs to be put back into the ground.  Oops!


Soil that has been rained on (and goodness, how it has rained these past few days!) is likely to become compacted, or squashed, if it is trodden on too much.  Boards placed on top…..


help to spread the load and stop that happening.

Something else that helps keep the soil aerated is this wonderful stuff.


From seed to ground cover in two or three weeks.  It can either merely be pulled out and used on the compost heap…..


or can be dug back into the soil so that it rots – and passes on all its goodness directly.

Either way, we are guaranteed crumbly weed-free, tidy soil.