A tidy mind means a tidy shed…

A tidy mind means a tidy shed…

…and my shed is a real mess. Is that an old gardening saying or have I just made it up?   Anyway, I decided it was time to put a couple of cloches over the perpetual spinach in the vegetable cage.  If I’m lucky this will produce some lovely tender new leaves in the early spring when other green veg in the garden are at a bit of a premium.

Now six-foot-long cloches with clear corrugated plastic covers are not exactly the sort of things you can lose easily and I distinctly remember putting them on a shelf at the back of my pots and seed box shed.  Approximately 40 minutes later I found them in the old dog kennel.  I had serious words with myself and where did that distinct memory of putting them on the shelf come from?  Both are now in position over the said spinach beet.

Muddy vegetables

Now that the deep penetrating frost has come out of the ground, aided and abetted by a not insignificant amount of rain, my vegetable cage now looks very much like the hollow “where we can wallow in glorious mud.”

Picking vegetables in such conditions is a thoroughly miserable affair.  Everything, even the purple sprouting, which is a good two feet off the ground, is filthy, as are the sprouts.   I have to thoroughly clean up the leeks under a tap before Mrs GG will even have them in the kitchen.

Signs of growth

On the upbeat side of things my seedlings are all doing well and the Vanessa and Alicante tomatoes and the aubergines have been taken out of the heated propagator in the unheated greenhouse and, much to Mrs GG’s irritation, are in trays with clear plastic covers in the dining room.

A box of Rocket first early potatoes are supposed to be chitting in an outhouse.  They are covered religiously at night with fleece and they’ve already been there a good fortnight with no sign of any shoots.  I didn’t want to grow them in the first place but was talked into it by you know who.  I selected five that were at least showing basic signs of life, and have planted them in compost in a bag in the greenhouse.   However, I’m not optimistic.

A spot of pruning

I had a good laugh a few days ago when I completed the rose pruning.  There is a gigantic New Dawn rose bush outside the kitchen window.  It must be eight or nine feet high and is one side of a very high and thick yew hedge, forming a passing place to the herbaceous border and lawn on the other side.  It’s about six feet from the bird feeders and the blue and great tit diners sit in it all day, darting over to the sunflower hearts or seeing off the goldfinches.

Anyway, it was the last rose in that particular part of the garden and there I was with the long-handled shears trying the remove dead and spindly growth.  I wasn’t actually being attacked by them but the braver ones were certainly buzzing me.   The others sat in another rose a few feet away quite literally swearing at me and telling me to stop.  Mrs GG was in fits of laughter watching this pantomime through the kitchen window.

A wet winter

Going back to my mud patch of a vegetable cage, the volume of rain we have already had in 2021 is worrying.   Ours is a very well-drained garden but this year we have has surface water accumulating where I have never seen it before in 34 years.  The brook at the bottom of the field has been over the banks two or three times since October.  I’ve planted so many trees in an effort to soak up some of the water, but the impact of global warming is now clearly evident.

Saving the trees

The importance of growing trees and maintaining mature ones is clear to everyone.  I wrote recently about the oak trees adjacent to my drive.   They were identified as having to be retained as part of granting the planning permission for the 142 houses on either side of our drive.

Last week we heard chainsawing from down the field and, looking out of our bedroom window, Mrs GG saw three men in bright orange jackets up one of the oaks.  I was in my 4×4 like Usain Bolt – carrying a slight injury.  When I got to the tree, I recognised one of the men who came over and confirmed they were simply removing dead wood.  He did, however, tell me that the whole process of granting protection for trees as part of a contested planning consent lasts just three years and, in his own words, “after that, it’s a free for all”.  So much for protecting much-loved and old trees.

Happy Gardening

The Grumpy Gardener

The Emperor strikes back!

The Emperor strikes back!

There is a mystery in my vegetable garden that is making me particularly grumpy. I grow my plants from seed and the Scarlet Emperor runner beans are always very productive, providing they have plenty of water.

Each autumn we dig out a trench in different areas of the garden and fill it with well-rotted cow manure then cover it over with the soil. The corners of the trench are marked with canes so I know where the manure is and can plant the beans so their roots reach down into it to feed.

It was all yellow

There is a framework of crossed over canes, tied together at the top with lateral canes to provide stability in the wind. So far so good. I planted out 36 plants four weeks ago and they all looked splendid and quite quickly started to twist round their supports.

At the weekend, Mrs GG came in with the bad news that eight of the plants had gone yellow and were wilting. I pulled up a couple and inspected the roots that hadn’t really started to grow out of the shape from the 3” pots in which they were grown.

Envii-ous

I have absolutely no idea what has caused this but it’s a real nuisance and very disappointing. Happily, I have located some replacement plants which are now growing in their own 3” pots.

I have given the remaining beans a seaweed extract liquid feed from ‘envii’ and they look strong. As I have to put the replacement beans in the same spot where the previous occupants kicked the bucket, it will be interesting to see whether they thrive or go the same way as their predecessors. Watch this space.

Where there’s muck, there’s brassica

One bit of good news is that all the brassica plants seem to be thriving, rather indicating that, after almost 30 years, the club root disease has died out.

Fingers crossed. If it comes back I’ll be massively grumpy!