busy, busy, busy

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plot 10 over the years – and a happy find

I came across this photo taken on the first day I acquired Plot 10, in April 2007. Amazing to contrast it with how it is now; a lot of my blood, sweat and tears shed during that time!

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… here is the view now, photographed from the same spot:

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And here is the “shabby chic” garden seat (French??) I was delighted to uncover in an unlikely corner of the wonderful Stamford antique centre, and destined now to live under my quince tree 🙂

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spring cleaning

There’s nothing like a bit of sunshine to spark a frenzy of spring cleaning/clearing. This weekend I finally managed to finish the new structure, doing away with the last of the horizontal grass paths. Just a bit more work to be done, spreading compost on top and the plot will be ready to start planting. Other exertions included cleaning the greenhouse and tidying out the shed; the “before” photos below show just how crowded it was – now happily restored, at least temporarily, to cleanliness and order. (Special thanks to Clara, whose Mother’s Day help was very much appreciated by her mummy!)

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hope deferred

makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Fed up with perpetual cold wind and rain, I’ve just ordered (yet another!) David Austin rose, a new variety with the wonderful name Eustacia Vye. She is destined for the rather crowded rose/flower bed where I trust she will establish her space and be happy. I certainly will!

Meanwhile, to remind ourselves that warm days will come again, here’s a moment of hope realised last summer when the divine R. Boscobel first flowered:

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structural work

It’s hard going, but worth it; I’m now consolidating the second row of individual raised beds into larger areas, working around the fruit cage and flower bed which remain enclosed. The advantages are more space for planting and quite a lot less grass to mow in the summer. The removal of the old rotting wooden sides will also make it harder for slugs and snails to hide 🙂

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I’m disobeying the rules of ‘no-dig’, lifting the turf, removing perennial weeds and stones. The ground beneath the paths is heavy compacted clay, full of flint stones, so all this clearing work will create a good foundation for future no-dig cultivation. I am bagging all the weedy turf which will eventually break down into nice loam.

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And I’m pleased to have now aligned the flower/herb beds where the width of the outer path permits. Much smarter (for now at least) than the higgledy squiggles of yore.

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snowdrop walk

The snowdrops transplanted from my mother’s garden are thriving at the foot of the fruit trees along the path leading from the five-bar gate to the 12 ‘secret’ plots beyond. The bare root gage I planted last year to replace the stricken Victoria plum tree seems to have taken, attended by its own little clump of snowdrops.

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peace at dusk

The past two days have been busy clearing and mulching the allotment. The dear man who has the adjacent plot to mine is bearing the sadness of losing his wife and comes to find some solace in nature. We work alongside each other in quiet endeavour. Tender times.

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christmas cabbage

A cheery newly harvested cabbage to add to the christmas dinner table tomorrow…

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With all best wishes for a happy festive break and a fruitful year to come in 2019…

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final flourish

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first hint of autumn

“It is a sad moment when the first phlox appears.  It is the amber light indicating the end of the great burst of early summer and suggesting that we must now start looking forward to autumn.  Not that I have any objection to autumn as a season, full of its own beauty; but I just cannot bear to see another summer go, and I recoil from what the first hint of autumn means.”  Vita Sackville-West

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today

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happy days

Perfect weather – not too hot, not too cold; just right for pottering and doing all the little things that needed to be done this weekend. Mowing, trimming, shredding cardboard for the compost heap, deadheading, weeding, sowing coriander (‘cruiser’), radish & spinach seeds – and, of course, harvesting. With restful pauses for nibbling and gratitude…

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golden harvest

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come into the greenhouse

It’s another world. Very warm and somehow comforting; I think because of the smell, which reminds me of my grandfathers’ greenhouses, one in Scotland growing tomatoes and carnations and the other in Yorkshire, growing tomatoes and more tomatoes! Both my Grandpas would, I fear, have mildly disapproved of the exuberant (over) planting, but at least it’s more orderly than last year when the achocha completely took over!

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Varieties growing (all from seed) are: Tomatoes Sungold, Noir de Crimee, Gardener’s Delight, Red Brandy Wine, Green Zebra, Caro Rich and Sweet Aperitif; Pepper Hungarian Hot Wax; Chilli Aji Delight; Melon Prescott Fond Blanc Musk (this is not doing very well) and marigold tagetes that have grown monstrously from unpromising beginnings.

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hot, hot, hot

Strange to think back to the waterlogged days of winter, when the cloggy mud made it almost impossible to push the wheelbarrow along the path. That same path is now hard and the grass pale brown straw. Daily watering, at least of the greenhouse, is necessary.

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The flower bed is doing well, the tiny little honeywort (Cerinthe major ‘purpurascens’) seedlings that I was so concerned about have turned into giants, beloved of bees. The roses have been marvellous, no black spot in evidence, and the new ‘Boscobel’ standard has flowered with stately generosity since early June. Cosmos and lavender also.

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The outdoor tomatoes are doing well, with lots of fruit to come. Self-seeded borage too, where I have allowed it to develop, though it is a thug and I too indulgent. My (very tidy) neighbour tuts quietly about it.

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The zinnias have now got into their stride, though they were jolly hard to germinate during the very cold spring. I’m so glad there is one pale one among the riot of hot pink and orange. And the ‘rose de Roscoff’ onions are now drying on the apple rack I bought at a vintage sale. Spanish onions still growing. Early ‘Sungold’ tomatoes cropping already; delicately scented and delicious. The bulbous green tomatoes alongside are ‘Noir de Crimee’ and I’m looking forward to them developing their stripey crimson juiciness.

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Bean ‘Czar’ has now taken off, with its ethereal white flowers. And below is the butternut squash which is looking great – I’m so pleased as in previous years the fruits have been weedy and often withered. This plant alone has 7 fruits, already quite large. And below that the courgette ‘Soleil’ is providing a constant supply of sunny delights. Its friend ‘Romanesco’ is completely out of control and seems to produce marrows overnight – the less said about that the better… luckily the compost needs greenery 🙂

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very very berry

Time to get out my wonderful Finnish steam juicer…

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The currants this year have suddenly ripened and are threatening to go over in the heat so I picked them all and will make jelly and jam tomorrow. The gooseberries are lovely and sweet and destined to be lightly poached with elderflower syrup. Lots more are still ripening…

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purple podded peas

Despite my annual vow never to grow peas again, (fighting the predations of mice before germination and pigeons when growing is a wearisome process – especially as they are so cheap and easy to buy frozen), yet again I succumbed to the notion and this year I’m pleased I did. The purple podded peas, especially, are looking lovely and healthy.

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And harvesting has started in earnest, today with courgettes (varieties romanesco and soleil), golden sweet mange tout, radishes, baby broad beans and red cos lettuce as well as daily sweet peas and roses (these are James Galway, chosen for the heavenly colour growing against the blue of the shed).

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While at home the garden is blooming, the lilies particularly splendid this year with a happy absence of lily beetles.

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early morning visitor

Arriving at the huerto at 06.30 this morning, the light was magical. As was this beautiful visitor; I was heading for a raspberry snack so had quite a surprise!

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Flowers now in abundance, the roses especially beautiful in their velvety morning dew:

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Everything growing on happily in the warmth of midsummer…

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midsummer day’s dream

This gallery contains 10 photos.

… and the perfect ingredients for a primavera risotto

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pesky visitors

Some dismal surprises today on a flying visit to the huerto; pigeons have demolished my beautiful Golden Sweet mange tout, along with most of the chard, lettuces and much of the spinach. Asparagus beetles have been beetling away, and a swarm of blackfly taken up residence in the tender tops of the broad beans. Booooo!

However, a bit of fast squishing, pinching out, cloching and netting before the heavens opened has, I trust, provided some respite. And just time for a photo of the standard rose ‘Boscobel’ coming into flower, along with peony Sarah Bernhardt still holding onto bud but blooming imminent.

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… and a quick pick of coriander ‘Cruiser’ and spinach from the little bed that is also home to surprisingly easily germinated salsoli, catch crop radishes and some bolthardy beetroot.

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