Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Time To Start Digging My 'No Dig Beds'

It’s time to Get Digging.  Normally I take a ’no dig' approach to the beds on my plot.  I  put a dressing   of manure and compost  on the top soil in the Autumn and then sit back and let the worms and frost do the work.  But this year, here in Hampshire, we have had almost no frost  - at least not yet!  My soil after all the rain became water logged  and is hard  and compacted and frost and ice crystals have not broken up the soil texture. Then the worms have not been at their usual task of  drag down the compost and manure which usually disappears over winter.  So it is time to get out the fork, spade and plank to stand on and start digging.

lovely photo  ofLangstone Harbour
Emsworth Wildlife Society
I do not have to dig to deeply and I will be adding some seaweed to the soil.  There are banks  ofseaweed on the mud flats around Langstone Harbour but it is  designated a site of special scientific interest or a special area of conservation and therefore  should not be collect for the allotment.   I use liquid seaweed extract and calcified Sea weed, from a sustainable source. Calcified  Seaweed is a good soil improver, especially after such a wet winter.  It can also be used instead of lime, it provides a useful source of potassium, magnesium and trace elements which may by missing from some popular fertilizers.e. These trace elements are important for healthy growth .During the growing period I use liquid seaweed extract as a foliar feed on vegetable plants and flowers.. It give a real boast to the cosmos plants after they have been flowering for a while and they flourish afterwards and flower profusely until the Autumn.

RHS Acantheae

While I have been waiting for the soil to dry out enough to work on, I have made an arch to one of the entrances to my plot and moved  my Tansy and a hyssop to new growing sites.  One advantage of wet soil is that these deep rooted herbs came out of the ground easily.  I have created a willow cage over the the Lovage as it  is near a path and it is easy to step on the growing crown.  I made one also for the Bears Breaches plant (Acantheae) which I have grown from seed.  Again it is near the edge of a path and after three years waiting for it to flower I would hate it to be crushed  through a carelessly placed boot. Here is a picture of what it should look like this summer.  If it does flower I will have a great sense of satisfaction of having grown it from seed but perhaps getting a root division would have been quicker and easier.  

The past weekend was lovely and I enjoyed being at my plot pottering around the edges of the bed doing  the jobs I could do.  Maybe this week I will be even be able to cut the grass and dig some - a bed ready to plant my early Potatoes,
!



With Reiki blessings

MerryB 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Working on A Paddy Field

My plot is more like a paddy field than an allotment.  There is about four inches of water on most beds.  The fruit trees on my plot all survived the gales, the crab apple even had some tiny bunches of apples still on it.  I had left these on for the birds but I think the wind and rain made it difficult for the birds to eat them.  Usually they are eaten by February.  My shed is still standing but it needs painting as the wind and rain has worn away the protective coating on the wood.


I saw a couple of Queen Bumble bees out on Sunday I was pleased to see them but they were having to work hard to find food.  I am not going to empty the compost bins to raise the level of my beds yet as there will be creatures and insects sheltering in them.  The wild life must have been devastated and I was wonder how my lovely big worm will have survived.  However,worms obtain their oxygen through their moist skin and  do this through the air, but as water is H2O they can get oxygen just as well from water.  So they should be OK in the flooded beds

Kevin Butt from Lancaster University explain in a interview on the Naked Scientist Website:

Some people think that if a worm is buried and gets flooded, then they would seek to escape.  But they don't need to because they can get the oxygen they need from the water.  However, quite often we see earthworms on the soil surface or on pavements seemingly trying to escape from inundation of water.  Perhaps, it's not that, maybe it's something slightly different - that the animals are actually trying to make use of the moist conditions in order to move away from their burrows, if you like, to pastures new so that they can mate with individuals that are not closely related to themselves. 
So I can relax and stop worrying about the earthworms on my plot now it is flooded. They will survive! I will also let them wander to pastures new if the urge takes them.

This week I intend to work on projects that I can complete round the edges of my plot, building and arch over one of the entrances to my plot.   Putting in 5 foot stakes and supporting wires for my loganberry which is growing and growing.  I planted it February last year and it is looking healthy and ready to crop well this year.  I am also finishing my willow hoop fence which will support and frame my dog rose hedge.

My potatoes are now chitting in egg boxes in the dinning room ready to plant next month  when the soil has warmed up and dried out.  What I may do is sandwich them between compost and then put a further mulch of well rotted manure  5/10 cm - 2 to four inches on top.  This a method Charles Dowding recommended in his book Organic Gardening:
This gives a higher yield and results in fewer slugs and keeps the tubers white.
I received a packet of annual flowers as gift last year and I sowed them in late September, I have 50 or more  plants now and do not know quite what to do with them, they have grown really well, but I now need the space for sowing vegetables, herbs and flowers.  They are now out ot the greenhouse, with fleece ready to cover them in case of frost.  I  have heartease, and white campions plants  ready to go out but even in my garden the soil is too wet and very cold.  So they will have to be nursed along for a while yet.

There is plenty to do at my plot and in my garden but grey days do not inspire me to go out for too long. However, Spring is here my daffodils, violets, crocus and snowdrops tell me, and sunny warm days will return.


With Reiki's golden light and blessings

Merry B



Friday, 7 February 2014

Weaving Willow on my plot

I hated fences and barriers around my plot, but, last April faced with two industrial sized poly tunnels alongside my plot I have been thinking of ways to screen their hulking ugliness from my view.  Last March I planted a hedge of dog roses along 4 meters on one side, and created a new seating,& potting area on the side of my shed, where I could glimpse part of the expanse of the allotments,  I was given a roll of blue netting and so fenced off my top bed ..  I hated it but, hey ho, if I was ever to get anything  growing that season  I had to put up with it.

I  made a lovely willow arch at  the entrance to my plot, but unfortunately when I cut my willows  it was just before we had snow in Hampshire which lasted several weeks and the willows lost their flexibility,  This year, having learnt a lesson, I am cutting the willows as I need them for a structure.  I have started a willow hooped fence in the edge of one side of the plot to support the dog roses. The hoops are six feet high and they will frame the dog roses as well as support them.  When the rain abates I will weave a wattle band across the top and bottom of the hoops  to strengthen them and may be create a design for the center of each hoops also from willow. 

My Christmas "book stocking" contained Jim Long's book about making trellises gates and fences from bentwood,  A great book with easy directions on how to make different structures.  It is a books that has inspired me to be more adventurous about how I use my willows and other wood.  I will be raiding my dead hedge for gate posts and bracing struts for my new Arch  When the rain and gales eventually fade away in Southern England  I will be making a gate, trellises, and an arbor for growing sweet peas and climbing beans.  I made one last year which worked well but as the willow was brittle it had to be supported  in places by bamboo as it sagged under the weight of the beans.  This year I will use side braces and cross struts then it should last for three or more years. Oh that  sounded almost professional!    I hope to start work on the arbor in the next few weeks once the soil is a lot less soggy than it is at the moment and I wont sink ankle deep into mud. In the meantime I I will work on the the fences and the gate.  

Other jobs I will get on with over the next few weeks is putting in new post and wire for my loganberry and post and wires for the grape vine. I grew this  from a cutting and it is now big enough  to be set in its position by my shed, yet.another screen for my plot, this time around my sitting area. 

I am becoming a recluse?  Err yes it seems so.  Being shut off from other plots by the community plots'  second ugly Poly tunnel was awful . However it is also means that I can quietly grow my herbs trees,  flowers and vegetables in my own style, and nurture the birds bees, butterflies, insects and amphibian in peace.  I am creating a lovely haven but also social spaces to share, with friends,  and drink Rooibos tea blended with fresh picked herbs.  Sunny days  for Pops dog and I to look forward to in my retreat by the sea  - soon I hope!


With Reiki Blessings
MerryB

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Marjorom - or is It Organeo?

New blog has been published on:
A ramble through attributes of the herb Marjoram, how to grow and use in the kitchen and in healing.  Two lovely Potato recipes are included.

With Best Wishes

MerryB

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dog roses and my Healing Garden

 I am  have started two more blogs to make my sites a little less rambling (if possible. ) I have written a new blog and posted on this site Reiki Druids Herbal.  Hope you enjoy a ramble through the post

With Reiki Blessings
MerryB

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Tussle With Bind Weed.



The neighbour behind me at the allotment neglects her plot and does nothing to deal with the bind weed that is over taking her plot.  No that is not true she strims it!!!  

As I have dug, and feed my back bed the bind weed comes through to my side as it finds it easier rather than struggling through grass.  Most of the back bed is covered with weed suppressant fabric.  But undeterred the bind weed creeps over the fence or under the fabric and emerges into the light.  I try to be philosophical about it, but every now and again I flip out and swear  and mutter about bad neighbours.  This happened recently when I found that my crab apple tree was covered in bind weed which had thread it self  tightly round branches and the trunk again. as you can see in the picture I had cleared it twice the previous month and once already in August. I was hopping mad I threatened the bind weed with a horrible end.  I even contemplating getting a 
glyphosate weed killer but many of these  de-nature the soil and kill off beneficial insects   My plot is home to numerous bugs as my anger fell I decided digging it and hoeing will be my solution and I will get an 18 inch metal barrier between my plot and theirs. I will  raise the fence to five foot either with netting or willow screening so if anyone sprays the plot behind it will help prevent the weed killer drifting over my plot and onto my crab apple tree.


My neighbours also have rampant blackberries which have also thrust themselves between the branches of the crabapple and sneak under the fence. and  grass - Oh sigh! 

 I love my young crab apple the spring blossom is beautiful and the as the fruit  does not ripen until December the  red apples  glisten in the winter sun like Christmas baubles.  I share my crab apples between the wild life and myself.  Last year it was such a poor year for the birds I left all the crab apples for them.



I did think about moving my crab apple tree but it is established now and growing really well despite the bind weed, grass and brambles that invade its space. 

There is hard work ahead but I will eliminate  the bind weed by constant hoeing and digging.  I will be chanting as Thomas the Tank engine did as he climbed the big hill: 

I think I can, I know I can 
Defeat is not an option!




With Reik Blessings and Light


Merryb


P.S. I will be writing a blog soon about the crab apple  - myths, magic, and its place in the  Ogham calender.  








Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mint glorious Mints

Corsican Mint Norfolk Herbs
Next year in my garden and in my allotment I intend to grow more mint plants , I hope to grow Corsican mint and Penny Royal as part of a"no grass lawn" outside my shed.  I am going to divide the area into boxes about the size of a seed tray and  growa mixture of mints, thyme, bellis,  German chamomile, clover, and other low growing tough plants the area will only be three foot wide and six foot long.and should be able to  be walked on and for Pops dog to lie on but digging is banned!
 


Nepeta Six Hills -Hooksgreen  Garden 


 I am growing some of the  plants in seed trays including penny royal..but other mints I  will buy as plugs as  most of the them are difficult to grow from seeds.  I do grow cat mint and have visions of a beautiful border along my herb bed of  this blue flowered mint. This has been a dream ever since I saw  a clip of Pam Aryes sitting in her garden on a beautiful summers day along side a border of Nepeta in full flower.





I find Cat mint grow well from seed and I have enough to grow a border around my herbs beds in the garden. and bowls for the cats,   It grows well through April, May into June it reaches perfection tall, flower buds forming and that is when Ray cat nibbles and bends it and rubs his head along it  and rolls in it.  Then Pop dog who has ignored it previously discovers it and eats it and snuggles down on top of it and I am left with stalks.  Oh sigh,  I grow it for them but I can dream! I have not grown it at the allotment as I do like the idea of the numerous cats or foxes rolling in ecstasy on my herb bed.




Black Peppermint Norfolk Herbs
I am also going to grow more varieties of mint, I use so much mint in cooking, salads and teas and want to increase the amount and types I grow.  My black peppermint  no longer looks lush and flourishing but a tiny plant with small leaves, as I have picked it so often for tea. The spearmint is also a frail shadow of it self and certainly has not become invasive. These two are my favourite mint plants and are used almost daily for tea, in cooking or salads, and with fruit. I have never found mint invasive as I pick it regularly and only reluctantly stop picking the leaves when the plants needs time to renew itself



A new mint I am going  grow next year is Moroccan Mint. It is one of the best spearmints  and mixed with green rooibos tea is a lovely hot infusion or iced drink.  A small amount of  fresh peppermint adds a lovely zing to the tea. It also goes well with Chinese green teas such as the famous Gunpowder Green Tea which All about Tea mix into their blend of Tuareg Mint Tea this is really delicious.

Mints is used as herbal  remedy for::stomach aches, headaches, stress and anxiety.  It can also be used to soothe insect bites .It is a fragrant and beautiful garden plant



Buddleia Mint Norfolk Herbs
Chocolate mint Norfolk Herbs



Anyway time for tea, I think fresh mint and green Rooibos tea.



With Reiki blessings and light

Merryb