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Developing Sensitivity; Aji Chillis and Woodlice

Note the semi-colon in the title: it was a bit “eats, shoots and leaves” when I had previously used a comma. Why are you developing woodlice, Mrs SVG asked. She was right, but instead of starting from scratch I decided to patch up a perfectly serviceable sentence with a sticky plaster form of punctuation. I beg your forbearance, as I continue to mangle the English language.

Anyway, gardening.

I am a better gardener than I was when I started. That is practically a given, very few people are worse at something years after they started. But I am still making daft mistakes and I still haven’t developed the sensitivity to the soil and my plants that would let me understand the setbacks that take place in my back yard. For example, what conditions would give my plants browned leaf edges and tips? Is it too cold at night or is too hot? Or is it both, or hot sun with a cold wind? It turns out I still haven’t developed the skills and sensitivity to work out what is going on. It is made worse in that my gardening was flourishing in March and April, but for some reason everything has come crashing to a halt in late May. Read More

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Rain at Last!

We’ve all been waiting for it, a long period of hot sun, cold wind, cold nights and no rain, have led to windburned plants dawdling along, not doing very much. The three days of solid rain – some would say this was ‘back to normal’ – has had its usual magical effect in the back garden. Things have spurted upwards, as if the rain has some sort of fast acting fertiliser in it.

I ate my first pea mangetout. The pea wasn’t meant to be a mangetout but I ate it that way, anyway. As you can see from one of the photos above I have had my first purple pea flower appear. This variety is ‘Golden Sweet’ – a proper mangetout – but unlike other purple flowered peas, this one tastes nice. I have been busy scoffing everything, everyday. The coriander is busy bolting, I am eating the softer shoots, but I am keen to get them out of the way so I can put in my summer veg: squashes, french beans, tomatoes, etc. The vietnamese coriander and Sweet Cicely, that I bought as baby plants, have settled in nicely and are now growing away.  I don’t mind buying plants if they last more than one year; with the vietnamese coriander, that means digging it up and bringing it in the house over winter; and with the sweet cicely nothing at all is required, because it is a native hardy perennial.

The sea beet was busy bolting and I have cut it close to the ground, hoping it will re-engage its vegetative growing mode and produce big leaves and stalks. This is a very tasty plant.  I have cleared the mizuna and red mustard, but myself and Mrs SVG are both sick to death of the stuff and are glad to see the back of them. They are very hardy though, grow and are pickable during the winter and are welcome salads during that time. But no longer, it’s time for tastier, more tender veg!

The allotment is seeing its first Marestail and bindweed attacks. One end, the easier to cultivate end, has very little of it, but the other end is infested. It is cultivation that has knocked back the perennial weeds on the easy end of the plot, so I will be attacking the bad end with gusto (and a spade). The plastic on the paths is working so far, so fingers crossed.

 

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A Bit Like Summer, But Too Early For Runner Beans

It was flipping freezing this morning, so much so I wore a coat. By Midday it was boiling again, which sort of illustrates the deceptiveness of the British climate: when the sun shines, it’s lovely, when it doesn’t there is an underlying chill to the breeze. Read More

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Fox Cubs and Other Joys of Spring (Like Coriander)

I’ve been planning the perfect blogpost / youtube video combo, but quite frankly if I carry on flaffing around I’m not going to achieve anything. So I’ve decided to pop some thoughts and some footage together (which is what blogging is supposed to be about anyway) and upload it. Get it out there.DSC_0006

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Backyard and Processing Cardoons

 I have been remiss in not posting for nearly a year. I haven’t given up gardening and I haven’t given up talking about gardening on the internet, I have simply spent some time experimenting with youtube videos instead of the written word. Though I have been enjoying myself, there are advantages to the blog form of providing information. The main one is that it gives the consumer a more searchable and leisurely experience. I also feel it is more search engine friendly, though I am sure some smart alec will correct me on that.
Nine Star Perennial Broccoli

Nine Star Perennial Broccoli

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New Crops and Talk Talk being the worst phone company I have been with.

Sorry for not posting for some time, I have been a busy (and this year, successful) gardener, I just have been locked out of my broadband by my phone company: Talk Talk. Talk Talk are a dreadful company. My phone line went down and two months later they still haven’t sent an engineer to fix it. The customer service people that I talked to were all lovely but not one managed to achieve the objective of sending someone round and some didn’t achieve objectives such as ‘definitely, definitely’ calling me back. They often tried phoning me on a line that doesn’t work and texted me on my mobile to let me know that. When I phoned them back I was stuck with a computerised switch board that wouldn’t let me talk to anyone. I was continually told that there was nothing wrong with my line and I was getting 20m a second, but then I’d explain that I’ve got no dial tone and the wrong lights on my router. They’d then say that there was something wrong and they’d send someone. But they wouldn’t. Read More

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Early seedlings update

Double cloche seedlings, early March

I’ve been practicing the intensive plant mollycoddling I have been learning from Americans. It pains me to have to acknowledge that our colonial friends may know a little something about growing veg. To the left is a photo (taken at dusk on a phone on 9th March 2016) of veg growing in late winter in the ground. I learnt from a couple of sources, all North American, that told me to use more than one cover (cloche) and that would markedly improve the conditions for the growth in winter of certain vegetables. It is very early and those peas (centre right top) are 10 inches tall. Read More

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Bristol Seed Swap and Getting Started on the Allotment

Went to the Bristol Seed Swap at Feed Bristol which is a 3 or 4 acre plot on the edge of Bristol. They have a couple of polytunnels and some teaching facilities. One polytunnel I went into was very hot, much hotter than my greenhouse, and everything inside was growing nicely. Amongst the standard British annual veg there were a few more interesting (though not necessarily tastier) food crops including a mallow. Read More

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Welsh Onions / Japanese Bunching Onions (the Same Thing)

Welsh onions and Japanese bunching onions are the same thing: Allium Fistulosum. They are recognisable from other onions because they have a round cross section when cutting through the leaves whereas the ordinary onion (Allium Cepa) has a ‘D’ shaped cross section. Read More

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Perennial Kales (and Broccolis)

This category of posts exists so that the site can host a permanent knowledge base concerning those vegetables that are easy to save seed from, root cuttings from or divide. The reason for this is to reduce our dependence on garden centres and to make our gardens more self sufficient. Read More

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