Progress, plans and plums

Oh, to be in England, now that summer’s there . . . mmm, how we’re missing that French sunshine now! Still, despite the gloomy weather we’re making steady inroads into the jungle and slowly – SO slowly – a garden is starting to emerge.

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I’ve been extending the kitchen garden patch so that it’s big enough for plenty of salad stuff and herbs, as well as courgettes and tomatoes next summer. It’s really hard going, the ground is full of old tree stumps, roots, weeds and a scary amount of rubble and rubbish. I’ve lost count of the barrowloads that I’ve shifted but it is taking shape now.

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We’ve thrown in a mixed bunch of winter greens, it’s probably too late but they’ve got two chances. They were planted in a tray in France and Roger can’t remember what’s what so we’ll have to wait and see what they mature into. The rainbow chard and spinach are trying their best in the cool temperatures but some little critter has devoured every last lettuce seedling. Great!

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It feels strange not to have a garden full of veg at this time of year. I’m slightly envious reading other blogs at the moment – what I’d give for a glut of beans, tomatoes and courgettes! We’ve eaten most of what we brought back from France but the squashes are lasting well: these are a selection of the early fruiting varieties recommended by Anja (North by North) and they are truly delicious.

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One thing we do have plenty of is plums, they are ripening thick and fast – and disappearing fast, too. I don’t think there will be any left for jam the rate we’re tucking in.

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I resisted the temptation to spend my vegetableseeds.net voucher in March as it made more sense to wait until we had moved so I was very chuffed to find there was a summer sale on through August. Yippee! Twenty or so packets full of promise for next year. . .

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Needless to say, I felt the need to plant some straight away. I’ve been tidying up the raised herb bed, removing the thuggish mint and fennel (they can go elsewhere to romp away) and replanting with smaller herbs. This left a space just right for a sprinkling of calendula and borage, two of my favourites which should make an early start next year. I know I’ll be in for the high jump once the borage starts setting itself all through the main veg patch but I think it’s worth it, so beautiful! 🙂

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Speaking of the big patch, we’ve changed our minds slightly and decided to site it nearer the house than originally planned. Clearing the area has been a huge job, not just cutting the waist-high vegetation but removing piles of rotting timber and metres of buried wire, also digging a drainage channel to divert a small stream. Roger is all set to dig, it’s definitely a spade job to start with so will be slow-going but hopefully there will be enough done before the garlic needs to go in this autumn.

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We’re great believers in ‘make do and mend’ so it’s great to have some revamping projects to think about. This bird table was rotting under a pile of undergrowth but with a bit of TLC it has scrubbed up well. Ok birds, here’s the deal: we’ll feed you all winter if you promise to clear out the aphids and caterpillars next year!

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The summer house is looking very unloved but I have big plans for it. First, new bitumen on the roof and then a lick of paint. It’s quite small so we’ll use it as a potting shed, just right for tools and trays of seedlings in spring. I fancy some flowery hanging baskets and a riot of colourful vegetables in containers to link it to the kitchen garden a bit; hopefully then the bridge (which sits over a stream marking the border between England and Wales), will be a great place to sit on a summer’s evening – and there’s no hefty toll to cross it, either!

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We can’t do anything about the ugly electricity pole so there’s nothing for it but disguise. I’ve planted a clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’, she’s a vivacious beauty who should cover it in no time.

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The other side of the rhubarb seemed like the perfect spot for a clump of comfrey which can spread as much as it likes here.

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Still on the revamping theme, Sam and Adrienne have done a great job in fixing the chicken shed which is ready and waiting for some laying hens. Adrienne has added a finishing touch to leave the little ladies in no doubt as to where they belong.

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I’m going back to work this week: aaaargh, quite a shock to the system after two years of full-time gardening! I will have to surrender the main veg growing responsibilty to Roger and keep my hand in at weekends from now on. Still, there is no doubt about it  –  I shall be out there gardening at every opportunity, come rain or shine. It’s such a good feeling! 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Progress, plans and plums

  1. As you say slow progress, but Rome was not built in one day. It is so great to read and see things being created or improved which ever way one turns. I can wait to read your blogs this time next year.

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    • There’s definitely something satisfying about creating order from chaos, we just have to be patient and hopefully this time next year there will be plenty to report on!

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  2. Gosh – you have already made an impressive improvement in your garden (meaning that it looks like a garden now)! What kind of laying hens are you going to have? Have you tried araucanas? I love their pale green or blue eggs – ready-laid Easter eggs…

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    • We’re just having some standard Isa Browns – boring but very reliable. We’ve had various pretty rare breeds in the past and haven’t had much luck with them, they’ve never been very resilient. Mind you, pale blue and green eggs do sound really lovely!

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    • I think the grey squash is Crown Prince but I’m happy to be put right on that one! It’s really tasty with a firm orange flesh like a butternut – definitely one to grow again.

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  3. Our neighbour has araucanas and they seem to manage the climate, the goats and the huge dogs pretty well (that’s where we get our green eggs from)! – The grey squashes are most likely Volga Greys…

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    • I must admit I didn’t think I’d planted any Volga Greys but in the chaos of preparing to move, there’s no telling what went in in the end! We’re certainly enjoying them and they’re keeping well.

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