The Good Life

Gardening, when you’re an fulltime unpaid carer with other paid work (3 PT jobs in my case), isn’t just a hobby, it’s much-needed therapy. When you’ve read the script of the current global technofascist takeover, so you’re not continually surprised at the plot of this panto, it’s also a survival skill. (Remember, in the fairly near future, if you found that funny.)

Last post (apart from the one on the strawberries) was in April. Since then, the red onions and garlic shot up and got ate up, and in the big green box (one of the raised beds) there was an unplanned crop, planted I think by my dog Ben, as the burrs stuck to his fur: cleavers, as they’re known in England; sticky willies, here in Scotland. In soups and stews they taste like fairly tough broccoli stems (very green) but, even if strained out at the end, they’re apparently excellent for lymphatic drainage. Not something to be sniffed at, in these days of food and pharmaceutical toxins!

In the same place, I finally worked out what the mystery plants were. About 50 sturdy seedlings with red stems and single serrated green leaves, I felt they looked familiar and guessed everything from beetroot to brambles. Wrong! They’re wee apple trees! A couple of rowans got in there too (planted by the birds, maybe from our trees out front, whereas the apple pips were in the compost). Well, they say in life you should write a book, plant a tree and have a baby, so two out of three so far (or rather 15 and 50) ain’t bad!

The chives delivered, like last year, and some potatoes (planted and unplanted) are growing well but the lettuce and carrots failed to sprout at all and the pak choi either got eaten up by the birds or bolted. Our avian friends also put paid to my hopes for the runner beans and sunflowers, transplanted en masse from the greenhouse. I’d hoped the abundant spread of buttercups (pretty but annoying) would shelter them but instead I think they just crowded them out of the soil.

However a big surprise are the pumpkin plants taking over the greenhouse with one fruit currently the size of a baby’s head! With the stems both running along the soil and raised up to run along shelves (to keep the fruit from hungry slugs) I’m not sure if we’re going to eat pumpkin pie come Hallowe’en – or if this triffid is going to eat us!

As for flowers, a lovely calendula is nodding gracefully over the potatoes and basil, one lupin is delighting the bees, nasturtiums are everywhere (including intwined with a bramble and in salads) and the gladioli have finally decided to shoot up, but so far no flowers.

I took advice and took the pots of geranium and begonia out of the greenhouse so, apart from the triffid, the only other flowers in there are the purple and yellow nicotinias (which I’m glad to say have survived their near-death Brexit customs experience and are thriving) and the wee white stars on the chilli pepper.

I also took advice on the roses which were straggling everywhere dangerously and had developed black spot on some leaves. They survived a fairly drastic prune a fortnight ago and seem better for it.

Last but not least, the rhubarb is holding its own (just) and the strawberries did get a bit parched in the heatwave but have bounced back with all the rain. Today, deciding to give the unconvincing strips of carrot seed another go, I made another raised bed, removed sticks and stones, added compost and sand, and broke up all the clumps so we’d have straight carrots not bendy ones! Then I tore up and sowed the strips, like last time, and planted the last of the onions sets around the edge, for good measure. I think they’re supposed to make good companions. Just looked it up. Yes! But compost isn’t recommended. Oh well, let’s see what happens!

(All photos copyright the author, may be reproduced, but not altered, with link to this post.)

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