Wednesday 12 September 2012

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Time, I feel, for a garden update. You've had house building, projects, chickens and small animals to saturation point now, surely. Time to put down that trowel, take a seat in any one of the nice sunny sitting positions about the place and maybe accept a glass of chilled pink and take the weight off. Look around you, see how much we have achieved in such a short time, bearing in mind that we only started in May, that three of the railway sleeper raised beds only went in in June, and allotment raised beds are only since July and we only started attacking the "bit we don't talk about" (BWDTA) in August. Some bits we're very pleased with; other bits have been disappointing or are still very much 'work in progress'.

The front lawn is an area where we have definitely won just by dint of almost weekly mowing. When we moved it was a rough  area of rushes and tall thistles and creeping buttercup but the rushes proved to be shallow rooted and could almost be sliced off the turf and the rest is no match for regular mowing. We had one setback where some cattle got in from the road and pock marked it with hoof dents but Dad has put hoof-sized wedges of turf in these and in the rush-digging holes. We like the 'huge expanse of green' look and will probably keep it like this, with just the low box hedge up at the house end.
Against the front wall we started a small flower bed intending it to be filled with the 'imports' from the Faversham garden we love so much - Californian and welsh poppy, hollyhocks, erigeron (Spanish Daisy), love in a mist. The Calif. poppies have started to do OK and we hope will now self seed, but the welsh and the erigeron never showed. The hollyhocks have done some nice rosettes of foliage against the wall so we are hoping for some action next Spring.

Just inside this wall on the left was where we put the old inherited TK Min tractor tyres in which we planted purple verbena and a perennial wall flower but have since added a strong erigeron plant we found at a local garden centre. Behind these covering a goodly area went 3 crates worth of assorted cuttings and slips from Steak Lady, under planted with 2 generous nets of assorted daffs. Whether these poor things will love us for sticking them in Roscommon's cold wet clay, we don't know yet, but we live in hopes.

Continuing our clockwise perambulation we pass through the BWDTA and into the west field. The BWDTA was called that because it sat looking balefully back at us when we watched the sun go down over the 5 acres field out to our west, a mess of tall weeds, dumped heaps of spoil (one of soil mixed with coal, anthracite and stones), long rotten and overgrown hay bales, black plastic. Eventually we could stand its embarrassment no longer and Dad was put to work with the old Sussex 'grass-hook' scythe to cut off the trash on top and expose the actual topography underneath. Then we'd know what we'd got. The spoil heap was sorted through to extract the useful fuel and good stones and the soil could then be spread out flat.

'What we'd got' turned out to be a reasonably flat saucer shaped parcel of land which was a bit boggy and had been used as a tractor route from front garden to west field(s) so was also a bit smeared up and not well drained. We had a bit of a 'light-bulb' moment and could see a big pond! Mum and Dad are keen wildlife gardeners as you know, and have always had ponds. We also know that under a foot or so of good soil round here is good ol' sticky yellow Roscommon Clay so we are hoping that if we can dig down to this and then puddle what's there and smear it up the sides, we may end up with a waterproof pond which does not need a liner. That's the plan anyway.

2 bits we are now delighted with are the kitchen garden (with it's railway sleeper raised beds) on the immediate west end of the house and the allotment now we have started to turn it into dug, 'lazy' raised beds. In both of these the veg has been enjoying the raised status, up out of the cold, damp, waterlogged flat soil and we have started to see some good crops of beans (broads, French, climbing French and runners) and peas, of green cabbage and red cabbage, curly kale and 'Cabalero Nero' (black) kale, as well as various salad leaves and pak choi type stuff. This is all a bit late. The leeks only went into the nursery beds as seeds in June and are only now, in September, reaching transplantable size, but Dad has optimistically planted out a raised bed full in the allotment (pictured) and these may or may not produce an edible crop in the remains of the summer.

I am getting a bit nervous of the size and vulnerability of this post as yet unpublished, so I am actually going to pause here and publish this bit, just in case of kittens climbing on my keyboard. I will continue in the next post.

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