Thursday, 2 December 2010

Winter garden

Time has flown by; the hop plant flourished, flowered and died back. Unfortunately, it was infested by greenfly and creepy crawlies when I tried to dry the hops, and I ended up adding them to the compost. I more successfully harvested tomatoes, and learnt how to make chutneys, salsa and stews with the unripe, green ones (all were delicious!) The chilli plants produced tiny chillis, the beans in their pots survived the slugs and produced gorgeous veg. I had a bumper crop of gooseberries and rhubarb, but alas the blueberry is still adjusting to being moved from the last garden and didn't fruit.

Next, foraging! I discovered a bumper crop of elderberries by a little visited crag, and made several bottles of elderberry cordial. Elderberries are packed full of nutritional goodness and are also reputed to have an anti-viral action. I make my syrup with ginger, cloves and cinnamon, and have it diluted with hot water as a delicious winter drink, perfect to take with me in a flask for a day on the hill. I didn't make it to the rose hips before the snow came in, but I do know where there is a superb crop to pick from next year. As I ever, I pick a few and leave plenty whenever wild harvesting.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Garden herbs...

I've been working in our new garden: we spent the winter clearing the overgrowth and now it's time for the fun part! It's the first time I've had a garden sized blank canvas to plant up, and I'm trying to take my time to plan it properly. Days have been passsed watching the sun track across the garden; I've thought about prevailing winds, soil moisture and proximity to shelter; I've rejoiced in having a greenhouse!

The garden is built on a slope and we have multiple terraces and rockeries, with a path and disused stream winding down to the greenhouse, drained pond and bottom patio. There are two level beds; borders along the path and disused stream; a gritted area and a 'woodland' area (where I have decided to manage undesirable weeds but otherwise leave to its own devices, at least until I get the rest of the garden under control!) We are hoping to reinstate the stream and pond at some stage: at present, we are using the pond as a much needed second compost heap.

First to go in were the hardy perennials: lavender, rosemary, thyme, chives and sage. I was horrified to find slugs chomping on my common and golden thyme: what kind of super slugs do we have here??! Marjorams have gone in near paths, for fragrance and easy picking. All the kitchen herbs are in places where we can pick them easily throughout the year.

Next: a treat! I've planted a hop plant to climb up a sunny wall. We will be able to see it when out in the garden during the summer, but it will be out of sight from the house when it dies back in the winter.

In a sunny, sheltered bed by the greenhouse I am planting fruit: so far, strawberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. We were delighted to discover a thriving rhubarb plant in this patch!

I'm on a learning curve with preparing a vegetable bed: it is already overrun with established annual weeds and I will need to double dig it in the autumn.

Meanwhile, I am a slave to weeds. Hours fly by as I pull and dig them up. A warm, wet day and once again cleared areas are bursting with new growth, much of which will be unplanned and of that, the majority will be weeds!!