Thursday, 31 May 2012

Cats 2, Me 0

It looks like the cats have won.  I have (sort of) learned to live with cat poo on lawns and in flower borders but I hate the thought of it in the veggie bed.  It probably doesn't do you any harm but I am conscientiously adding organic matter rather than chemical fertilisers, not bug-spraying etc,etc to be as organic as possible - otherwise there doesn't seem a lot of point in growing rather than buying.  As you will have seen I cat defend with string and netting and canes and all-sorts... Somehow one has still managed to use my manicured ground for its toilet.

This is the barrier it managed to cross.  I can only presume it is a triangular shaped cat.  As I said it wins.  I have decided to give up on the veggie bed next summer.  I'll get my other half to rip out the raised bed boxes and I'll plant up another flower border.  I think I am going to have a perfume border.  Every single plant must have a great smell.  I am trying to find a peaceful afternoon/evening to compile a list of plants.  I need a small tree (with strong perfume), a couple of roses (both the same), three shrubs maybe (same family) and some perrenials (probably only three types).  I want to try and stick to a limited range of plants and not have the spotty bits and bobs I have in the rest of the garden.  There's a challenge.  The border is East facing but it does well for the sun most of the day.  Please, please, please send me any suggestions you might have.  I'd like to get this border just right.  Oh, the other constraint is colour - must be cool colours - pinks, whites, creams, lavenders, blues.  All the reds and yellows and oranges and purples are out in the front garden.

In the last couple of weeks since I last wrote we have had some wonderful sunny days.  This was truly great, other than I managed to kill every single little seedling in my greenhouse.  No excuse, I just didn't check it in two days at one point and when I got back in they had all completely fried.  So much for doing my own hanging basket plants this year.  I managed to save about nine tomato plants and six trailing sweet peas.  Six other trays of seedlings all got chucked on the garden.

This meant a quick reccy to see what I could get cheaply for the baskets and borders.  I did well at places like B&Q, Aldi etc but I must confess to breaking down and spending twenty-five pounds on the main hanging basket from Heaton Park.  I bought one from there in 2010 but last year their stuff was awful.  They are back on form this year and I'd recommend them and the Hidden Gem little café (in one of the glass houses).

This photo is to show you how I get hanging baskets home.  It is balanced in a bucket, in a bag and in the foot-well in the back of the car with the passenger seat shoved forward.  I then sit and hang on to it all the way home.  Bit of a fiddle but it does the job and I always get everything back in one piece.  The irony here was, having done all that, its first night in situ was very windy and it snapped of bits and bobs all over as it spun against the wall.  It is recovering just fine but I cursed at the time.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Signs of life

Hardly worth saying how miserable the weather has been and how it has kept me out of the garden.  I'm sure you all feel the same.  We did grab a couple of hours at the weekend for some tidying up and weeding and generally having a sort out.  

I have planted the dwarf runner beans and dwarf French beans in the legumes square alongside the dwarf peas.  I also rigged up the cat defence which I hope will double up as support for the plants if/when the grow tall enough to grab on to the string.

I am writing this on Tuesday 15th May and we are threatened with a frost tonight!!!!  Sadly they will have to take their chances as I can't cloche them (!) and don't have fleece or anything light enough to throw over the flimsy string and cane construction.  Hey ho... wonder what will be there tomorrow.

Finally there is a glimmer of the first early potatoes.   First might be accurate but early - I think not!  My sister in the Cotswolds is earthing up her spuds.  Envy, envy.

I don't know if you can tell but I've raised the cat defender a few inches above the box to give the spuds some room to grow.  If I just remove it at this stage every cat in the neighbourhood (and that's four regulars in the immediate vicinity) will trot over to try out the newly constructed cat loos.

I've planted a few spare beans and peas in the square foot bed and put in four squares of seeds - salad leaves, radishes and beetroots.     

The back four squares are untouched as yet.  I have two thoughts - one - don't bother as they are a pain to reach when harvesting and/or leave them in case I see some bargain veggie plants - unspecified variety as yet.

We'll see what happens.

My fourth and final veggie square with the rhubarb.  The seedlings at the front are salad leaves, not weeds.  The two big tubs - far too much soil for what is growing in them - have American land cress and parsley.  Not a sign of life from the parsley - which doesn't surprise me as I've never yet managed to grow any from seed, but the good old reliable land cress is on its way.

They are planted in tubs to lift them up for some light otherwise the rhubarb drowns out everything else.

I've got the usual huge holes appearing on the rhubarb leaves which I assume is down to slugs. So much for rhubarb leaves being poisonous.  Not enough, obviously.

I wonder how many of you went to the Malvern Spring Show last week/weekend?   It is certainly one of the best in the year but I'm afraid I gave it a miss  as I probably will with most of the others.  They are lovely to look round if the weather is good but usually awful traffic jams, rotten parking, expensive entry.  I have got to the stage of thinking there's nothing much I want from them any more.  Inspiration for a bog standard back garden falls on stony ground (pun intended), I don't need exciting or particular plants and I am weak for gadgets and gizmos so could do without being tempted.  Basically I think having done the shows for years I have come to a stopping place.  Don't let me deter anyone else, for all the opposite reasons. Enjoy

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Post script from the 27th

This is the lowest point in our garden and it is always pretty much a swamp throughout the winter.  We are on clay and not exactly free-draining.  We excavated channels and filled them with grit but it didn't make a scrap of difference; so now we just live with the black lagoon.  Sometimes the water backs up and lies on the surface of the lawn for a while.  This is the worst we have ever seen. This last week It filled up to the top of the edging strip of wood and overflowed down the back.