Wild garden

The garden lies largely neglected during the winter. There is some kind of psychological barrier to going down a flight of stairs to get to it. Then there is the cold and the damp.

I love watching the fox who still manages to live on top of the wall at the back of the garden though. The neighbours chopped the hedge right back to try to get rid of him, but now the leaves are the same colour as his fur, so he has an even better hiding place. I am a little wary of him now the small boy is on the scene, so I may have to do the same later in the year.

Like this blog, the garden gets horribly neglected for large chunks of the year, but I know that when the first signs of spring start appearing, I will be all excited about it again.

I hope your gardens are all hibernating well, getting ready for new things in the months to come.


There will be blood

Something has ruined my salad.

Not only dug it up, but then done an enormous poo on it, and invited a load of bluebottles to come and dance on its grave.

The point may have been the massive poo and the seedlings were perhaps destroyed as a side project, but the result is the same.  Luckily I planted a truly ludicrous amount of lettuce, so hopefully there is enough left, but I am Not Happy.

In other news, The Boy has developed shrieking, but is temporarily distracted by large fluffy bunnies.  This is a marked improvement on last week, where he had developed shrieking.

Finally, if I could knit, I would knit these.

The tiniest water butt in Europe

Maybe.  It is laughably small.  Still, it holds three watering cans worth, perfect for sprinkling my lettuce seedlings.  Slugs and snails circle the veg patch, waiting for the little shoots to get big enough for a decent meal.  I wonder (again) whether I could squeeze a small chicken/quail coop into the garden?  It would be deeply satisfying to pluck a snail, mid-munch from the lettuce patch, and chuck it straight in with of a couple of hungry hens.  That’d learn it.  Turning snails into eggs, now that’s recycling.

In other news, I have been conducting an archeological dig in my compost heap.  I have found large quantities of leaves, grass clippings and woody prunings c.2008 all of which had formed stoic layers, entirely un-rotted, exactly as they were when I foolishly put them in.

I have learnt the hard way that building a compost heap does not mean you can shove every piece of garden waste into a pile and expect black gold in 6 months.  A lot of stuff still has to go into landfill, unless you’re prepared to invest in a chipper, which frankly, would be truly ridiculous in my garden.  I do cut some stuff up by hand, but there are limits.  Some things just aint gonna rot quickly.  Avocado stones, for example, have a half life of approximately 483 years, from what I can gather.

Happily, I have discovered that the answer with grass clippings is just not to collect them in the first place.  Let ’em die where they fall, far less hassle all round, and they even act as a rather neat green mulch for the lawn (if you can call a patch of grass the size of a postage stamp a lawn), so you should end up with greener grass into the bargain.

I have also discovered an incredible bread recipe/method via angry chicken, which is awesome.  I made some today.  It is easy, it is cheap, and it turns out bread just like the stuff from the artisan boulangerie (in Tooting? I hear you cry – it is true, it exists) down the road, except that you don’t have to pay £3.20 a pop.  Not only that but it’s the first time I’ve bought a specialist cookery book and managed to make the stuff with things I already had in my kitchen.  You don’t have to buy special equipment or ingredients, you don’t have to sit and spoon feed some kind of absurdly complicated yeast starter for a week and a half or anything.  Brilliant.

Garden update

I love my garden.  Here it is, as photographed from my kitchen window.  It is 5x5m square (one-hundred-and-sixtieth of an acre), small but perfectly formed.  Unfortunately the gardener does not measure up to the garden.  I am the worst kind of fair weather gardener.  On the first sunny days of the year I get over-excited and plan all sorts of amazing food growing adventures.  Sometimes I even get round to actually planting things.  Mostly though at some stage I will neglect everything for a month and a half, and then it all perishes.

My fruit and veg collection at the moment consists of a couple of very active raspberry canes, which are shooting up (no sign of any fruit yet though) and three beautiful cordon fruit trees I rescued from my Mum’s garden which are spending this year settling in.  We hope to have some fruit from them next year.  There is also a rhubarb crown hiding in my veg patch, but I have yet to nurture it into producing anything edible.

On the sustainability front, the compost heap has now become two compost heaps, because I naively filled the first with all kinds of woody prunings which are never going to rot down.  I need to go through it and get rid of all of that stuff.  Compost heap number two is a brave new departure, which has been treated nicely and should actually compost properly with a bit of luck.

The wormery is doing well, the little wrigglers seem to survive now whatever the weather, and are busily churning out lovely, friable black gold from my kitchen scraps.   It is very exciting to lift the lid and see all the life in there.  It is absolutely heaving at the moment!  Looking forward to using some of the worm casts when I plant up some lettuce shortly.

My next project (Him Indoors despairs of all this, and would much rather I actually grew stuff, rather than filling the garden with endless sustainability projects) is to harvest some rainwater.  This is something I should have set up years ago, but somehow it was difficult to work out the best way to do it, and so it never got done.  Happily I now have an ingenious plan.  It is the smallest scale water harvesting system ever, but I am very excited about it.

Finally, the chicken plan may eventually materialise as my downstairs neighbour is also keen.  No actual plans yet but it’s looking ever so slightly more realistic.

I hope your gardens are doing much better than mine, filled with beautiful flowers and burgeoning fruit and veg.  Hopefully I will have some better news next update.

Wilbhog in the snow

The obligatory ‘ooh it’s snowing!’ picture.  This is our Wilbhog.  We picked him up in South Africa and smuggled him home in our hand luggage on the plane, we were a bit worried they might confiscate him due to the extremely sharp tusks he has on him.  Luckily he sneaked through though, and now guards the garden from the fox cubs, Wilb and scavenging birds, in that order.