Monthly Archives: May 2017

times they are a changin…

and I’m not just talking about the weather, though it was a relief to have the rain over recent days.

Well, it was a different story a week back.  Lots of glorious sunshine, which was timely.  As the lovely OH and I get older it means that we have to find ways to reduce the ‘graft’ on the holding.  I’ve been reading a number of Charles Dowding’s books and we’ve decided to move towards a ‘no-dig’ approach.

First up this year is using mulches for earthing up potatoes instead of soil, because if there is one thing we don’t have any shortage of here is grass.

The first and second early potatoes were planted a few weeks ago in about 4 inches in soil which I topped up with another 4 inches of old hay.  Charles Dowding prefers to use compost to mound up rather than hay or grass as his experience is that the latter attract too many slugs. We shall see.

The main crop potatoes went in more recently and in addition to using up our old bales we are applying grass clippings.  The lovely OH cut the grass in a number of locations which I then gathered up

and spread over the main crop planting area.   As the haulms emerge we will earth up with more grass clippings.  Hopefully the harvesting of the potatoes will be easier and the mulch should suppress weeds and help to conserve soil moisture and thereby reduce watering. We hope.

Since those sunny days, we have been away and it’s quite astonishing the amount of growth that has happened whilst the rain fell.  We have come back to an abundance of greenery. Even the indoor sowings of corn, french and runner beans have all sprouted away like triffids. Amongst all the green lushness, the first poppies have appeared  in the wildflower verge, their colour standing out as bright as a fifties starlet’s lipstick.

It’s good to be back home.



a stitch in time…

saves nine.  So the saying goes.  I used to hear this, mostly when the hem of my school skirt was adrift, (though I usually thought ‘that’s what sellotape is for’).  Why the saying?  We had heavy frosts in the middle of April. Though I fleeced newly planted peas we didn’t have enough fabric to cover all the crops and I’ve noticed that some of the strawberry plants are showing symptons of ‘black eye’.

This has been caused by the frost.  I’ve been picking off the flowers as these won’t develop fruit.  We’ll need to see if there has been any other effects once the strawberries start to develop.   The kiwi also took a hit, certainly on the leaves.

The flowers might not be affected as they were in bud and until the cultivar ‘Jenny’ starts flowering we won’t get fruit from the kiwis anyway.

The apples were starting in flower when the frosts came; I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed for them.  Elsewhere it all looks pretty good.

I will have to start on the thinning soon.



herb haven…

is the polytunnel.  We found that the thyme and rosemary fare far better over the winter in the tunnel. These woody herbs can take cold or wet but not both.

As these have done so well I’ve decided to keep the sage in here.  To these woody herbs, I have sown leafy coriander, dill, parsley and the basil has started to germinate.

The mints (moroccan, apple and spearmint) are still in the tunnel but I’ll move these out once I’m sure there won’t be any more frosts, ditto with the marjoram

It’s not just about the leaves. I’ve started to add flower heads to salads – the chive adds a mild onion flavour …and I can’t wait for the nasturtiums to start to flower.

The plot is now producing more home grown food

which is, of course, what it’s all about!