366 Days of Gardening!
Episode 4 – Week 5
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Bottom Drawer Gardening – Prep is Key!
I received an email the other day with reference to the previous episode of 366 Days Gardening – A Strulching We Shall Go! – asking why did l feel the need to include Mickey Mouse [“What possessed you?”]. The answer is simple … l possessed me! I am just adding a little bit of additional humour to the series in the way of ‘Gardening Shorts – animation – humour, storybook or comedy’ That’s what l am doing. Today’s episode is a charming little tale about a little caterpillar that became a beautiful butterfly! Is this not gardening? Wildlife gardening as well.
Who is familiar with the term “Bottom Drawer?’ For those not, its definition is usually associated with brides to be who use the bottom drawer to store preparations for their married life. The term arose literally from the terming of storing your valuables in the bottom drawer of a huge chest of drawers….
“If a young woman were to buy a set of teathings, or a tablecloth, or what not, and were asked what use she had for such things, she would answer, ‘Oh! they’re to put in my bottom drawer.'”
Robert Holland’s A glossary of words used in the county of Chester [Cheshire]
So, l have been saving for the last few months in my bottom drawer – well conservatory various things to use in the garden this season – and l am getting very excited about it. I mean why would l not be? I lost the gardening seasons of 2018 and 2019 due to a shoulder injury and the only ones l truly had were the latter part of 2016 where l prepared for 2017. So bring it on – l am one eager beaver for 2020!
I have been preparing the growing mediums and soils for this year, l started that last year – preparing the compost, the grounds – forward thinking into time saving practices and methods such as the Strulching that Suze and l did on the weekend just gone to save us valuable time and energies when it came to potential weed invasions.
Everything l have been involved with since last August has been to do with this season – 2020. Preparations for a new growing season are imperative and paramount to successful and rewarding growing windows – the end goal being – a quality harvest of edible crop. I will discuss my bottom drawer contents in the next episode.
Now last year we had a small growing season that for some reason was all over the place – spring started well – but be it weather conditions, environmental or climatic or grower error l don’t know – perhaps more realistically a combination of them all. I was out of physical action and Suze was overworked and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the gardening work and then became horribly ill and then couldn’t do any gardening at all – so the season for 2019 spring and summer became almost defunct.
My shoulder started to recover in July of 2019 – hence why by August – l was able to start the whole season prep process off again.
So this year l am determined to not have the same errors repeat themselves and have been preparing for the season – in more manageable and bitesize pieces to avoid becoming overworked, overburdened and overwhelmed. A video below from a chap l have followed since 2014 with regards gardening may be of interest to you. In fact his entire channel may prove to be beneficial.
The weather up until this week had not been kind, constantly on a barrage of rain showers and squalls and serious weather fronts meant everything became seriously delayed – however as said this week has been kinder.
The jobs l have for this week have been:
* Stage 2 greenhouse clean up’
* Checking over and cleaning the garden tools
* Identifying soil shortages
* Identifying pot/container shortage or numbers
* Counting up how many biodegradable pots we have and planters and seeders alike
* Turn 8 – Compost and Sieve
* Restyling the internal greenhouse setup
So far for Wednesday and this week, l have managed to account for and finalise a good 75% of these jobs – all l need to do to finish the week is Turn 8 and set up the greenhouse. Yesterday l was very lucky to have sunshine to really make a decent stab in the greenhouse and whilst there was no sun today, it was and still is dry, just overcast. But that still means work can be achieved. I have had a bit of painful stomach since Sunday – but it’s all still been manageable.
The boxes finally turned up a week later than planned and initially l was going to send them back out of anger for poor service, but them decided to keep them [because they were bought for a definite reason], alas when l counted them out instead of there being 24 quantity there is only 21! So in addition to the delivery being a shambolic fiasco – well it just gets worse! Now l am chasing them down for the missing 3 boxes. The new boxes are opaque – we do have some red ones which l will be using for the greenhouse to ease off the algae problems with storage boxes in a ‘goldfish bowl’.
The greenhouse at the start of yesterday.
Yesterday l was able to clear out the greenhouse and box up the contents. Rubbish was made ready for disposal and recycle was identified and stored for future use or upcycling or repair.
But once it was cleared out – it did look improved and when completely cleared out – WAY BETTER!
Today l cleaned the inside glass panels – which is decidedly awkward on account of the age and general shape of this particular greenhouse. It was first constructed in this garden in 1993 and at that time, way before our current landlord owned the property, the original owners were very proud and active ornamental gardeners -[you may recall an episode last year where l said the completely pebbled side to the garden was in fact a giant 25 foot long garden pond that had been filled in]
The original owners were not people that would allow themselves to be outdone by the neighbours and so when everyone in the neighbourhood was getting Greenhouses and Glass Houses for their gardens – the couple here opted for a completely unique and expensive bespoke model. Sadly however the company that made those models went bust in 2002. So any replacement parts for this greenhouse disappeared with the company folding up.
The husband passed away in 2003 and the wife [by this time much older] was no longer an active gardner and so the greenhouse went unattended, unmaintained and so on. The wife died in 2010, the landlord l have, purchased at that point. Prior to Suze and l taking up the rental, none of the previous renters before us were active gardeners and so the building was allowed to basically rot down.
So, this glasshouse is actually 27 years of age this year and l think, it’s holding its own pretty well, but like us all and more so as we too age – it’s become a little fragile and held together by spit and luck l think, so cleaning it l needed to be very gentle. It’s not my property and l have no real wish to purchase a new greenhouse for a rental that l may have to leave behind if l was to move, so l am exercising major recycle with this one.
Very pleased with the results of today however, and now all that is left to do is to clean the concrete flooring and wash down and treat the aluminium tables before they are put back inside.
I have to speak to the neighbours about their tree – it’s a lovely shaped beech, but it’s 65 feet high and steals 6 hours prime summer time from me and this south facing garden and so l have had to rearrange my garden layout for this season to grow crop. Deciding what l do with this new empty but shaded space is top priority as the season approaches.
I have just ordered 30 bags of 25litres top soil for the garden beds and containers and two new water butts which are to sit next to the existing water butt in the image below outside the conservatory – l have to try and figure out where l am going to put additional butts out the back behind the sheds yet and might instead just opt for a continuous line up here. We have the space here for an additional 4 butts.
Yesterday l had the gardener here and he was pruning the apricot for this season and the plum that is planted beside it – he informed me that the plum was indeed rotten and would have to go due to it having Plum Tree Disease, Honey Fungus and Plum Rust! Dayum, that’s one unhealthy pair of plums! We learn something new everyday – this tree will be taken out next week.
How are your seasonal preparations coming along – what are you up to? What are your 2020 plans?
Anyway, thanks for reading – catch you next episode….