Saturday, 24 January 2009

The garden calls . . .

This is the other veg plot, last spring.

Now that January is moving on a little, and the bitterly cold spell we had has given way to normal Welsh winter weather, I have been sorting out the garden a little. My first task is to reclaim the bit of the paddock where I used to grow salad vegetables about 12 years ago. There is still a bit of the original herb garden struggling through the grass - Elecampane, Bronze Fennel and a large area of rampant mints! We've just laid a piece of rotten old carpet on the mints in the hope of killing them between now and spring - I have always been an optimist! Meanwhile, I have delineated the rough extent of the new plot with electric fencing (not turned on) and am clearing brambles each day. Ideally, my husband would be doing it with the slasher, which is so more time-efficient, but I enjoy plodding along, and it allows me to look, and sense, and smell, and listen to what is going on about me. It is quite surprising how much bird noise I have been screening out. When I actually listen, there is a cacophany of bird talk.

Working slowly gives me time to think things like, in the past I expect my ancestors would have left it a bit longer and made Bramble Tip wine and then put the bigger brambles through the maw or whatever it is called to get the spines off and then turn them into bee skeps or baskets. I think of Alex and Peter working in the Green Valley, clearing a long-abandoned field which was a mass of bracken, because they planned to grow peas there. I really must watch the DVD of the series again this weekend and get some inspiration.

This is a good time to plant soft fruit and indeed fruit trees. I had to go into the £1 shop in town on Thursday and came out laden. I bought 3 x Blueberries; a cabbage starter kit (about 80 seeds which is still going to be on the generous side to feed us here, even supposing half of them reach maturity); a bag of 50 Dutch iris; a paeony (Sarah Bernhart, which is pink); and two lots of seed selections. One is Nice & Spicy and has basil, chilli peppers, mustard greens, sweet pepper, coriander and oriental spicy leaf mix. The other is Mediterranean vegetables - tomato, basil, sweet pepper, salad rocket and oregano. Then I went into Wilkinsons and got 5 redcurrants at a pound each, onion sets, 2 rhubarb crowns, a Fig Tree (I always wanted another - had a great little one in my Piddletrenthide garden); onion sets, 3 baby lupins and took a chance on a Kiwi, which should grow in our warm south-facing yard.

I took cuttings from the established blackcurrants last year and have probably another dozen babies to plant up this year, plus a couple of gooseberry babies. First of all though, it's the big clear out in the paddock, so I shall carry on this weekend. I like a challenge!

When we move I am having a big greenhouse. What's more, I'm having a BIG polytunnel. I hope my husband is listening!

For Nancy, and anyone else who wants to try knitting dishclothes, here is the link to dozens of fabulous patterns - I have some fresh ones printing off as I type:

I thought you might like to see my current project - the "intake" area of the paddock which is going to be my extra veg plot and soft fruit garden.

As you can see - I have my work cut out!

I persuaded my husband to take the slasher to the area to the left of this which was covered in brambles, whilst I cleared dead leaves, ivy, old fencing (I hate using wirecutters as I always manage to pinch my hand) and I took a mattock to the bramble stumps. It's coming on, but it looks like there are the footings of a wall there - see stone to right - which drops away about 2'6" behind the bank/wall. Could be the wall of the Medieval Hall that was here, but whether I'm inside or outside of it I don't know yet. Possibly inside as we found - many years ago - some plaster in the soil hereabouts . . . Must get the metal detector out tomorrow.


Morning's Minion said...

When I lived in New England winter was the time of dreaming and planning changes to the gardens. By late February I could start seeds under flourescent light and move them out to the unheated greenhouse in late April--with some hasty covering on cold nights. Wyoming is a difficult place to garden-- there is so little rainfall and so many foraging animals.
I remember the interesting chips of broken dishes which would turn up near my Grampa's garden. My sister and I lined the bits up on rock "shelves" to play house.

Kim said...

You DO have your work cut out, Jennie. It's sooo good though to plan and then to see it coming together.

Kim x

Bovey Belle said...

I am just going to do a small area at a time Kim, and put the spuds in the established veg. plot this year so I'm not rushing TOO much. I moved the Lovage over today to the original herb plot, so am gradually excavating that and revamping it.

MM - finding bits of old glass and china (and chicken bones) in the garden where I grew up was what turned me into an archaeologist I think! I used to write to someone in Alaska, and she had moved there from California and was a VERY frustrated gardener!