SOME MORE RECYCLING

Quite a few years ago I started making flower pots out of newspapers – using a jam jar as a mould they were just the right size for transplanting my seedlings. The advantage was that they rotted in the soil when I transferred the plants out into the open soil.

This is a step further. I have started growing my sunflowers for our annual Johnson sunflower competition. They started well, I put them into little pots and they did even better there. Now I needed to put them into something even bigger – but what?

I have been saving the brown paper than some mailing companies fill their boxes with – just because I hate throwing things away, it might come handy.

Today was the day. I used a tall vase as a mould because I needed something bigger than a jar and with straight sides. It is just perfect, I have used most of the paper and the plants look fine. I’ll keep them in the greenhouse for quite a while and when all danger of frost is gone they’ll go out. Last year I managed 11ft and 11inches, my hope is for that one inch more!

CHRISTMAS

These cacti are quite old now but they never fail, within a day or two they always flower around this time. I have read somewhere a long time ago that it is best not to move them so they have been sitting in the porch all this time. It seems to work.

20201227_100819

JOB IS DONE

My efforts were perfectly timed, the front garden is all but sorted out. There are some little patches that I will return to but all in all I’m happy with the result.

The easiest bit was the tidying up of the paving slabs and re-laying of bricks, just a bit of hard graft. Once this was done I started tackling the weeds. It is amazing how quickly they spread – as if they knew that I took my eye off them. Anyway, I have timed it just so – our garden waste wheelie bins are going to be collected this Friday and I have managed to fill three of them. I’m lucky my friend next door has two so I use those when I need to.

Most of the established plants are doing well, especially the conifer – I brought it here when we first moved in in 1973, it was a tiny seedling from my mother-in-law’s garden. Looking good I’m pleased to say.

20201210_125039

All it needs is from time to time to cut the very top and perhaps trim some of the branches.

The other side of the garden has my favourite tree – the loquat. This is one of a number I managed to grow from seeds. Years ago we went on holidays to Istanbul and had the loquat fruit for desert. It looked and tasted like a very nice crisp apple. The seeds germinated very well and I have another one in the back garden. I have no chance of any fruit on it though, it flowers towards the end of the year and the fruit appears in February. It is a very handsome tree all the same.

20201210_125005

I am using it as a climbing frame for my clematis montana.

There is a bit of colour in the garden, even on a dreary day like today. The hydrangea looks good and the cyclamen in my pot is just coming into flower. A bit of encouragement to continue.

NOVEMBER

Even though we are in November already there is still enough colour in the garden. I love these pale pinks blossoms. There is also one rose flowering, it certainly cheers everything up

20201112_113931

Later today I went to the allotment, just wanted to get some carrots and parsnips. I took some photos there as well, I still have a rose flowering there. The Asian pear is dropping the leaves now and the colour is lovely.

TRANSFORMATION

This time I was working in the back garden, in a corner that I neglected for some time. There were two fig trees in this place, only because I had two cuttings and nowhere else to put them. I remember doing the planting correctly, the holes were lined with a thick membrane, that actually helped when I was digging them up. It contained the roots but all the same, it was a lot of hard work. It all happened in stages, first they were cut down, then cut down even more and yesterday the stumps were dug out. I’m glad to have an old pickaxe (it was in the garden when we moved here, all 47 years ago). After a whole morning of hard labour the two stumps were out and another small one of a conifer that was half dead anyway.

20201004_175715

From this dark corner the next stage was a bit brighter20201005_141942

The roots tried to resist but didn’t manage…..20201016_114945

….so it is no surprise that I’m happy with the result

I had a lot of different pots round the garden and a lot of bulbs – tulips and daffodils. All are planted, pots are in place, even the fence panel behind them is painted. The great thing about this way of doing it that I can re-arrange the pots, replant them, the possibilities are endless.

MASON BEES

I decided to move my mason bees from the allotment to the back garden. Last year was the first year I had them, they only capped one tube so I thought I’d like to offer them something better in here. I have got a fairly large manuka tree, grown from seed near the the place where I fixed the holder with the tubes. I didn’t check for a long time and the other day I managed to get to it, there is a large elderberry bush nearby too. To my delight I found nine capped tubes!

20200620_200414

After reminding myself what to do next I took the inner tubes out and stored them upright in a small jar on a shelf in the sitting room. I replaced these with empty ones and put them back in the holder. I am hoping they will carry on the same way and cap many more. It is well worth the effort, we have to keep the bee population protected.

FLOWERS ON THE ALLOTMENT

I don’t have the mason bees there this year, I have moved them to my back garden. But we have lots of bees there anyway; Mary, who lives at the back of the allotment, keeps bees. She has a number of bee hives and we had some honey from her last year. That is one of the reasons why I have some flowers on my plot.

The lupins are wonderful, all grown from seeds and the bees love them. The rose bush was free from a gardening magazine some years ago, it only cost the postage. Well worth it.

It is not only flowers that are in full bloom, loganberries and blackberries are doing well too. I’m hoping for a good harvest, we need some cheer!

SOME COLOUR

This time I was working in my back garden. I always spend so much time on the ‘farm’ and seem to neglect the front and back gardens and then I feel very guilty. Weeding (almost) done, pots topped up with the rich stuff from the compost in the corner –  talking of that, I left it for about three years and what I got from there was nothing short of miraculous – rich, brown crumbly soil.

Bulbs are planted, one more dwarf apple tree is in a large pot and the greenhouse that is filling up alarmingly fast.

Time for some photos

FRONT GARDEN

This afternoon was earmarked for some serious digging in the front garden.

The job started on Sunday, between the showers. There was a large yucca in my front garden, I got it as a small cutting about 20 years ago. It was flowering well but last year it started showing signs that all was not well. In a way I didn’t mind digging it out, it was taking valuable space from my other large specimen there, a loquat. That is grown from a seed – some years ago we went to Istanbul and had loquat fruit in a restaurant. Of course I had to save the seeds and on return home I planted them in a pot and they germinated. I can’t imagine ever having the fruit here but it is a handsome tree.

The roots of the yucca went down for ever but they and the whole trunk were really fibrous, difficult to cut with a saw but much easier to hack with my favourite tool, the azada. Much easier to use than pick axe, much lighter. I have already mentioned it in another post, from January 2015. One of my very favourite Christmas presents.

Now the square of soil is cleared of all weeds, it is ready for new plants. I have decided on Hellebores, they should do well, it is slightly shaded by the hedge, and as they are not tall, they will not compete with the loquat.

 

WORMS

When I started working on my allotment those ten years ago I had to create a large heap of weeds and other unwanted things that grew there. It was quite large and didn’t look like doing anything useful. I contained it just by putting some large pieces of wood and planks and forgot about it.

This year the nettles grow on the top quite alarmingly huge so I thought the soil must be good underneath – they like rich soil.

Today was the day to tackle it and these photos will tell the story better than any words.

 

As it is just in front of a hedge I had to cut the overhanging branches and ivy, all the ten years I wasn’t able to get to it. All this was done just on time as we are building a huge pile of burnable material so this went there as well.

 

The last job was re-planting my crab apple tree that stood in front of this heap. I had an empty spot in my new orchard so it fitted there very well.

I’m happy. All I need to do in the next few days is to dig the soil very carefully the get rid of all the roots and then put some wood around the edges and create a new growing area.

The soil is very rich looking so now I have to decide what to grow there next year – courgettes or squashes perhaps.

 

I finished the job the next day, starting nice and early as the weather forecast was for rain in the afternoon – this is the result. All the saved pieces of wood and some broken paving slabs came very handy. I will just have to dig it over to take out roots and other bits of rubbish and all will be ready for the new pumpkin patch.