Courtyard Gardener’s Conservatory : Lemons #courtyardgarden #gardening #houseplants #lemontrees

Must get myself a little lemon tree.

Jan Edwards

Last autumn I splashed out on a tiny lemon tree in B&Q. Just a tiny tree creaking under the weight of 4 lemons!

Those lemons came in very handy for Christmas cooking (and the odd G&T) and i was rather pleased with it.

But…

I have grown lemon from pips before but never had them flower of bear fruit. I assume they were a different variety from the one I had bought because I made the rooky error of keeping it inside and in january it lost half its leaves!

Reading up up them it seems that whilst they don’t survive frosts lemons  like to be cooler than you’d imagine and don’t like central heating! So my little tree went out into our small (unheated) conservatory.

I also bought some citrus feed and the combined treatments seem to have done the trick because about 6 weeks ago it started to…

View original post 153 more words

Plot 51: Comfrey Tea

I decided it was time to start tidying up the slim strip of raspberry bushes and odd plants down the edge of plot 51. I’ve already cleared a spot for the gladioli, it’s strange that the 12 mixed bulbs all turned out to be red and there’s also my hollyhock bed. The rest of the strip is weed infested raspberry bushes and a huge clump of montbretia (crocosmia) and some compost bins. I first cleared a spot of willowherb and bindweed and then moved two of the compost bins into the space and then wondered… ‘What else can I do with the space?’

I had a spare plastic bin and so decided to use it to make some comfrey tea. It fitted easily into the cleared space and so all I had to do was fill it with the spiky stemmed leaves. I have a patch of comfrey that was already in place when I took over the plot and although it’s not in an ideal spot It’ll do. I chopped the unruly bushes down by 50% and filled the bin, packing the stems and leaves down.

With the comfrey wedged into place I took the hosepipe and filled the bin with water and put the lid back on. I didn’t bother putting any weights on the leaves as it was filled to the brim and I’m sure it’ll rot down well enough. It’s in a south facing position and should have the sun on it most of the day, this will aid the fermentation/rotting process. Previously I tried this method in a bucket and it produced a brown, noxious and foul-smelling tea that my greenhouse plants seem to like; it does smell like a farmyard under the glass for several days after using it.

It don’t half pong mum

I’ll leave the thinning out of the weeds and raspberry canes until later, maybe until it comes to pruning, until then I’ll keep picking and enjoying the red fruit.

Plot 51: July 2020

I’ve not written an allotment post for a few weeks, this is due to work constraints and the fact that I’ve had to do very little on the plot, apart from weeding: to be frank, because of the wet weather, I’ve done very little of that too. My excuse has been that I’m leaving a bit of it wild for a while to benefit the wild life. – Is that the truth? – No. I’ve just been lazy.

What I have been doing is harvesting: Soft fruit has been a success. I’ve had several punnets of raspberries and blackberries. My strawberry plants from Amazon did really well and I harvested about 5 kg and I’ve a packed freezer and had many a bellyful of scrumptious rhubarb.

Cosmos Hedge

Veggies thus far have been good too. I’ve picked lots of salad, lettuce, spring onions and radishes; I wasn’t keen on the white ones but did like the Lunga Rossa ones. I’ve picked all of my carrots early and they’re now blanched and frozen along with balls of spinach chard (perfect in a curry). I’ve started to pick courgettes (zucchini) and patty pans and so far I’ve had about 20 young runner beans.

In the greenhouse, I’ve been picking cucumbers and a few chillies, but the peppers and tomatoes are still a couple of weeks away from being ready. The gherkin has gone rogue so maybe it’ll have to be put outside and a risk taken on it surviving the British climate.

Flowers have been good this year; possibly due to the wet weather. I’ve had armfuls of cosmos; the cosmos hedges have been a triumph. I’ve picked plenty of lavatera and sunflowers, and the dahlias are now coming into their own and are being cut for vases at home. The sweet peas that were pathetic earlier in the year have flourished as have the nicotiana and the feathery dianthus, which have a lovely clove perfume. I’m looking forward to the gladioli which have started to bud-up and my nursery bed of wallflowers, hollyhock and campanula are looking promising for 2021.

I’ve been disappointed with the Moluccella laevis, (Bells of Ireland) which haven’t reached their full height and have become stunted, green bushes rather than slender stalks of emerald bells; maybe a burst of autumn sunshine will help them achieve their potential. Also, I wasn’t happy with the corn cockle, they were just weedy looking things that looked like they belong in a meadow rather than around my squashes.

Fingers crossed for a good autumn and all the other green treasures that it will hopefully bring.

Courtyard Garden : Bees and Cuttings #beehotels #wildlifegardens

Jan Edwards

The Cherry Plum in the front garden is once more getting out of hand. Nothing beneath its canopy – which is extensive! – gets so much as a dribble of rain.  So, armed with an electric pruner, Peter took off 3 large branches.

We would have taken more but that was as much as we could fit in the council garden waste bin for next week!

Of course the regs for our garden waste is that no logs are to be placed in the bins. But that is not a problem.

The garden is always full of various solitary bees and it seemed like a good time to try out hand at some bee hotels.

Having cut up all of the foliage branches and crammed it into the bin Peter cut the logs into suitable lengths and drilled holes of various sizes into the ends.

We then stacked the pieces…

View original post 87 more words

Plot 51: Dahlia Discovery

You often get gifts left behind from the previous allotment holder. Most of these gifts at the moment, tend to be rogue potato plants that spring up all over the place; presumably odd potatoes missed during last year’s harvest. Another gift I’ve received is an unwanted one: Masses of mint roots buried in my brassica patch where there was a feral mint plant previously. But I did discover a very welcome, and unexpected gift while clearing the plot for my hollyhock nursery.

IMG_5234

Underneath the mass of weeds and rubble I found a huge dahlia tuber, and when I say huge, it was 17 inches long and 10 inches wide (43 x 25 cm). Part of the tuber was eaten by slugs but there was plenty of evidence of growth meaning it could be divided up into five new potential plants and the woody middle discarded.

I’ve only ever grown annual dahlias before, so these ‘proper grown-up’ ones are new to me. I’ve now got two tubers that have been found on the allotment, one that’s doing very well in the ground, and this new find, that I’ve now got 4 tubers from, (I gave one to my neighbour). I haven’t a clue what colour or type of flower they’ll be so it’ll be a surprise.

IMG_5226

 

I like surprises and these will also come in the guise of several other dahlias, as I’ve been given 4 cuttings by other allotment holders and I’m hoping these will fill out and get going once they’re in the ground and produce some lovely cut flowers for the home.

I’ve already got 3 plants planted out, one being the first discovery (as mentioned above) and the other two are shop bought tubers that had a generic picture on the front but no recommendation of colour or type.

I have also purchased two named varieties and these are now potted up and once large enough will be outside with the others. There was no image on the tubers when I bought them so I’ve had to copy these from the net. But I’m looking forward to these two subtle blooms.

Dahlia

Plot 51: Project Hollyhock

So with just one small patch of the main growing beds to finish raking and preparing for planting, I decided to move onto a new project, the border. The border is mainly raspberries and as they fruit on new canes there’s little I can do until the harvest and they’ve been pruned back, so I’ll tackle another weed filled patch.

IMG_0332

 

There’s several compost bins along the side and one has been tipped over, so I’ll move this and clear the space nearby of weeds to make a nursery bed for my hollyhocks for next year.

The square of earth is host to burdock and bindweed and it’s no surprise to find buried lots of broken glass and plastic; there’s lots of dried putty leading me to think that a broken window has been buried here.

 

IMG_0331

The patch is cleared quite quickly and I find something that makes me very happy, but that’s another blog post. After adding some blood, fish and bone and removing some house bricks it’s ready to look after the hollyhocks for next year. I’ll also put some flowering plants into the space to add interest for this summer.

IMG_5128

Musical Advertising

Over the past few days I’ve come across two street signs advertising products using lyrics from popular songs. The first was a clever play on words for a housing/rental company.

IMG_5197

And just in case you didn’t quite get the reference there’s a nod to the band at the end.

The other one is another play on words, however not as subtle, but extra points for the image added to the advert.

101024803_10157154690297187_5162894828341559296_n

No points for guessing what number 2 is selling. (Not sure how legal this is but it’s funny nonetheless)

Plot 51: Grown Up Jelly

I have discovered a liking for rhubarb. As a child I remember being given a stick and a paper bag with some sugar to dip it into and I hated the stuff, even school crumble failed to get me to like it. But now after inheriting two crowns on the allotment I’ve found it’s a taste I now love.

So I’ve been picking it, stewing it, freezing it and making pies and cruIMG_0333mbles from the green and red sticks.

One thing I also like is jelly, so I decided to have a bash one day at making it from the juice left over from the rhubarb, and ever since I’ve been making it every time that I’ve been preparing some for the freezer.

What I do to make this grown up jelly is once the sticks have been cooked down for the freezer I strain the pulp and save the liquid. I then add to it another half a stick and little more water and boil it for a few minutes and when it’s cool I strain and discard the boiled pulp saving the liquid.

Let the liquid stand in the fridge for a couple of days and the sediment will settle leaving a clear pink liquid above.

IMG_0338

Gently pour off the clear liquid and discard the sediment as you soak three leaves of gelatine in cold water (3 leaves to each pint of liquid).

Pop it all into a saucepan and warm through until the gelatine is completely dissolved.

DO NOT let it boil as it will taste bitter once set.

Pour it into the mould/bowl of your choice and pop it into the fridge to set.

Once set, enjoy it with cream or ice cream, it’s lush.

IMG_0240

Oasis (not the band)

I’ve only been living in the new place for 76 days and so I’m still not very savvy about the local area and amenities: The corona virus and lockdown hasn’t helped exploration either, but today while on dog-walking duty I found a real gem, an oasis of calm just a few minutes from my back door, and so after the dog decided he wanted to go home I returned to explore.

IMG_0271

It’s a patch of woodland with a path that meanders through clouds of cow parsley and the sound of the nearby houses is diffused by the trees until as you walk further it becomes almost like white noise.

Today the sun is prising its way through the canopy, sending shadows and shapes racing across the ground as I stroll off the path and into a small clearing, where it’s obvious, that while the world is locked in a battle with a microscopic enemy, nature continues unabated.

Like most cities, ours has a proud industrial heritage. Before the 1980’s, when cheap imports of dinnerware from Asia began to flood the market, chance was the plate you’d be having your lunch on or your teacup would have come from Stoke on Trent – there’s a reason we’re called, The Potteries. (Don’t get me started on how greedy management/owners destroyed the industry in their quest for fast profits.)

IMG_0279

An internet search will bring up archival photos of bottle ovens belching smoke and dust into the air, but things change and those historical clouds of smog are gone; along with the skills of the city’s people. But enough of that, let’s get back to today.

Despite our industrial past our city has lots of green spaces, in fact as Misha Herwin said in her blog, we have a green city.

Stepping back onto the path I find some bluebells standing proud among the grasses and the sky coloured flowers remind of my childhood before the plants were protected, when, with my sister we’d pick armfuls of them, breathing in their delicate perfume.

Just a few feet away from the bluebells is a patch of buttercups, their happy yellow heads held high in the stillness of the morning. IMG_0272

There’s no breeze but there’s a definite aroma of garlic in the air, I take a few more paces and the smell is stronger, and there nestling in a shady spot I find a strip of wild garlic growing, it’s white flowers standing out in bright defiance against the broad dark green leaves.

Further down the path is a patch of forget-me-nots, forgotten among the undergrowth, their leggy stems holding the pale blue flowers aloft. I look at these tiny flowers and not for the first time, I wonder why they’re also known as scorpion grass.

It’s amazing how just a few minutes disconnected from modern living can top you up with a feeling of well-being. Simple things can often be the antidote to stress and anxiety, and nothing is more soothing than the tranquillity of a woodland walk.

My favourite discovery of the walk is four dandelion clocks standing proud, waiting for a breeze to tell the time. I like them so much I that I can’t decide which of my photographs I like best, so I’ll post both of them.

IMG_0274

         IMG_0276

Plot 51: Bricks And Bulbs

At the side of the outbuilding is an old water container; one of the1,000 litre white cubes in a cage that I saw so many times in the Italian olive groves in Abruzzo. I was going to get rid of it, but a quick Google search showed that a refurbished one can sell for around £80 to £90, so I decided to keep it. The only problem is it’s precariously lying on top of more rubbish, old bricks and yet more rotten wood. Next to it is two old barrels and another mini rubbish dump of glass, plastic and pieces of electrical cable. So the first thing to do is to move it and get rid of the wood.

April (25)

We cleared the bricks putting to one side those we think we can use, then set about removing the rotten pallet that it’s fixed to.

The barrels at the side are moved with my neighbour already having earmarked one for her plot.

We built a brick support and lifted the cube into position. It’s not high enough to get a watering can under the tap, so it’s lifted off and more bricks are piled up. Why didn’t we measure it?

The five brick towers look less than able to do their job as we lift it up again and luckily with a bit of pushing and readjusting it’s relatively secure. The real test will come when we fill it with water.

May (11)

I start to clear the mini rubbish dump which proves to be a tedious job to remove the glass and wire, so as the soil is very good quality, out comes a sieve and I’m sat in the sun like a miner panning for gold.

The iPod is switched on and The Humans play their cover of These Boots are Made for Walking and an hour or so later the small plot is ready to take the gladioli bulbs I’ve been starting off in peat pots at home. The spot is in semi-shade so the blooms shouldn’t fade in the sun and as it’s beside the paving that will become our seating area they should look nice.

The bags of rubbish are loaded into the treasure trays I rescued on skip day and placed in the car to be disposed of when the council tips reopen next week. I could leave them here, but I want to break the cycle of rubbish staying on the plot.

May (13)