Sunday, 3 April 2011

Meanwhile, out in the garden itself...

Hello, Salad Burnet. Hello, Lemon Balm.

And hello Lovage! Thanks to some root-plantlets from my friends Beth and Chin, and some over-wintered seedlings that I'd forgotten I had, I'm going to have a LOT of Lovage this year, by the looks of it.

Dicentra Spectabilis, 'Bleeding Heart': every garden should have it! It waves delicately in the wind, hence being slightly out of focus. :)

Cherry tree blossom:

The grape vine bursting out:

Chard, which valiantly made it through the winter, wilting and then re-growing at each frost. I really should have fleeced it - my problem is that, wonderfully hardy as it is, and so easy to grow, and so pest resistant and so forth - I actually don't like it very much. I like earthy (e.g., celeriac) but chard, I find TOO earthy. Perhaps I should try to stick to the white variety, which is supposed to be the sweetest, rather than this one, which is Bright Lights.

Chicory. This came about by chance, really. All my lettuces had bolted last July/August, and when I went (unusually, but as a treat) to the garden centre, they had no lettuce plants. I thought I'd give chicory a try, as a green.
Well, dammit - here's another one which is spectacularly hardy and pest-resistant (these plants made it through all the winter weather, uncovered) but which I don't actually like. It's too bitter for salad, and cooking it doesn't help. Perhaps it will heart up and form endives, which Duck likes - but I'm not sure what that involves... Brutal as it seems, I guess I'll pull them up!

Ahhh. Forget-me-not.

Lots of ladybirds around; in fact, I have to be careful where I step or sit. I hope it's a good omen, and doesn't mean that they'll soon be followed by record numbers of aphids.

Black peppermint, delicous...

... and equally delicious fuzzy Apple Mint. Really not long till I get a glass of fresh mint tea, at this rate.

I think these are 'Thalia' narcisuss; maybe it's the shady position, but they always seem to hang their heads like this:

... which is why I don't feel at all bad about cutting them to bring indoors:

This corner is where the shed is going. The shed that's been in sections in our sitting room, for X months. It will be SO much more useful when we actually assemble it. The pallets are for making the base on which it will sit.


Seedlings are springing up very happily, and this year, they have more space to spread out in, as I got this plastic greenhouse/shelving thingo to put outdoors:

At the moment it's mild enough that I've started leaving the flap open at night, though any risk of frost, and I'll be zipping it up overnight again. Seems to be working very well and, SO FAR, no snails have climbed up into it.
In the blue bucket in the foreground - some komatsuna which survived very well over winter, and which I'll be growing again next winter, under a cloche, just to be a bit kinder. It's a slightly spicy green, great for adding to a salad or sandwich; and not as hot as rocket. We had some heavy snow and some hard, long frosts, so it's pretty hardy stuff.

Beetroot 'Cylindra':

'Feltham First' Peas:

'Goldensweet Mangetout' Peas:

'Winter Marvel Lettuce:'

Calendula Officinalis:

Spinach 'Matador' (back left), 'Little Gem' Lettuce (right), Sweet Peas (left), Cima di Rapa/ Rapini (front):

Those black plastic trays are testament to how much Tesco Free Range Chicken we get through. I make holes in one tray, with a bradawl, and then place it inside an unpunctured one, which serves as the drip tray. Works a treat. Of course, they are thoroughly washed first...

You can also see my two labelling methods: plastic milk bottles cut into strips, marked with marker pen; and foil-lined drink cartons, likewise cut into strips, and marked with biro. The former type doesn't work too well out in the garden, as the marker pen soon fades (which is why I lost track of my tomato varieties last year). The latter type works more through the imprinting than the ink (see the Calendula label) so can't be washed off, but the labels lose their rigidity once damp, so you can't prang them straight into the soil.

One of my resolutions this year is MORE LABELLING; especially of collected seed. I'm trying to decide whether or not to plant some unidentified brassica (?) seed, or not. Might be Pak Choi. Might be something else. It's probably edible, however.