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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

The other week the Engineer’s godmother, Song, invited the Vicar and I to join her at David Austin Roses on the Vicar’s day off. We enjoyed our visit very much – they have gardens full of beautiful fragrant roses and a great tearoom. And more than that, Song went away with a lovely pink rose to cover a bank by her house and we came home with three rambling roses for our garden wall. We decided we could use them to deter coping stone thieves and nosey kids who like to peek over the wall. And they’ll look fabulous and smell delightful.

The Vicar has planted two roses by the back garden wall, with wooden posts and connecting wires, and another by the front door. Now we just need to get our plants to grow and bloom like this one. What do I need to know?

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Well, a small one, anyway. Last year we bought some very cheap strawberry plants and stuck them in a flower bed where they failed to produce anything edible. This year, however, they have given us some sweet strawberries – a whole (small) bowlful. And we’ve been able to pick them at peak ripeness. Delicious. Please excuse the shocking lack of focus in the picture. The one I took using the flash made the strawberries look purple.

We also have some small and very sour cherries, about five radishes, a handful of gooseberries, some spindly rhubarb and some snail-chewed bok choi. And there will definitely be potatoes. It’s better than last year, and if our gardening continues to improve at this rate I reckon that we might have a good harvest by the time the Engineer leaves home (he’s six btw).

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Well, gooseberry harvest anyway. After all my panicking about mould, I am extremely pleased to report that our gooseberry bush has produced masses of fruit. So: the solution to American gooseberry mildew is to catch it early and chop it off. So far we’ve had about 4lb of fruit from the bush and there’s still more to come. We’ve had gooseberry fool and gooseberry tart. – both delicious, though I say so myself. Not sure what to make next – any suggestions?

A very pleasing crop

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Sweet Garden

I just picked my first ever home-grown sweet peas this week. They look a little pathetic climbing the plastic trellis we have up – mostly they are sprawling around at knee height. I think I probably need to work on my gardening (and photography) techniques, but I’m still rather pleased with the result. Look:

They smell heavenly and remind me of my Yorkshire Grandpa, who grew sweet peas and lots of edible things in his long garden.

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I’d been getting all excited about our gooseberry bush. It is bursting with green berries. I had visions of gooseberry fool and pickles and pies and all sorts of yumminesses. And then this afternoon I saw it. MOULD. On the end of nearly every fruit-heavy branch.

What a sad waste - I hacked off about 100 berries

It seems that we have American Gooseberry Mildew. Just like the Yanks, coming over here and ruining our traditional summer desserts. So I went and hacked the plant back, following advice on websites, although it looks like I might be a bit late – you’re meant to do that in the winter. I don’t know if this will stop the spread this year, but I’m going to watch it like a hawk now. Mostly the advice said to plant resistant bushes. Not much good if it’s already there.

Anyone else inherited a gooseberry plant that was mouldy? Will I get any fruit this year?

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We recently went to visit the Engineer’s godmother on her family farm. We had a lovely walk up to a little wood where there are beautiful bluebells growing wild. She tells me that there are two types of bluebell that grow in the UK – wild English bluebells that are protected and special and Spanish incomer bluebells that are driving the genuine article out. A bit like grey squirrels, I guess.

Since we have bluebells in our Vicarage garden I then wanted to work out which ones we have. Since not all are blue (we also have whitebells and lilacbells) I suspect they are the Spanish variety. What do you think?

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It’s our second spring in the Vicarage and this year I am planning vegetables. I’ve been inspired by Alys Fowler and her Edible Garden series on BBC2 (tho’ I’ve not watched as much of it as I’d like due to a lack of tv licence and running out of broadband download). I would like her hair, dresses and funny little dog. And garden, obviously.

Only a few plants were munched by the evil slugs...

So far I have planted masses of seeds in a plastic greenhouse (see pics) and fended off a some evil slugs who had a chomp when the first rain arrived after planting. I have ordered the Vicar about with a spade and he has kindly dug up small parts of a couple of our massive herbaceous borders so I have veggie space. He also planted out the sweet pea plants I succumbed to in the garden centre.

Normally he is the gardener and has managed a couple of allotments in our time in Vicar college and in curacy. Now he is generally too busy to do much gardening and has said that I have to be in charge. This is a new experience for me (in the garden, at least).

Since I’m so bad at housework, gardening has always seemed like an excessive luxury. Why tidy the garden when the house is such a mess? But I’m desperate for home-grown veggies so am attempting to do some growing this year. Hopefully with some help from my husband, who actually enjoys gardening when he’s out there. The kids love it as well, the Queen in particular. She’s in the school ‘EcoClub’ and spends almost every lunchtime gardening in the school’s new allotment.

Waiting in the ‘greenhouse’ for planting out I currently have the following:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Radishes
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Broad beans
  • Runner beans
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Courgettes
  • Sunflowers
  • Er…I think that’s it just now

Our main veggie space for this season - starting small

Planting out is this weekend’s project. And fighting the slugs. Three little ones climbed into the greenhouse just after planting and sampled a good few of my germinating plants. Evil blighters. We moved the greenhouse out of the long grass and surrounded it with ash from the fire, which seems to have kept them off so far. The advice for planting out is used coffee grounds to keep them off. So I’m tanking myself up on caffeine for Saturday…

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I am a gardening ignoramus. I know nothing about plants at all. And now I am (jointly) in charge of an old-fashioned garden with proper herbaceous borders filled with pretty flowers that are coming out in an impressively sequential manner. I don’t know what any of them are and I think it might be good to know. At least if I know their names I might feel like I was vaguely in charge.

So here are some pictures of some of the current garden beauties. If you can tell me what they are I’d be very happy.

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