“…. a gift horse in the mouth!’
E27 – W14
Been extremely busy this week … in truth … l have been non-stop busy since last weekend in the garden … and we have been very lucky with the weather. It has been sunny and somewhat warm verging on hot all this last week and l have been taking full advantage of it for several hours each day hugely reflective upon what needs doing..
Most days now, after l take my 7.30am morning walk and have a shower and shave and some breakfast I will write up my postdated afternoon post, like l am doing now between 9 – 10am and then will get into the garden and start work.
Break for lunch for half an hour or so, then crack on again and take a small break mid afternoon to pen the 18.15pm post if there is to be one for the day. Failing that, l will basically work till around 6pm and then write the 22.15pm around 8pm. Whatever the structure – l am in the garden in the sun for roughly 5 hours a day and when l get back in for the evening. Suze and l will take an afternoon walk together and then l am about ready to collapse for the day totally exhausted and trying to figure out how l have gotten this old so quickly?
But the first two weeks of the months of April, May and June are usually pretty busy as that is when you are mostly planting out and seed sowing and l have been doing just that. In addition and where l think most of my tiredness is really attributed to is l have been spinning compost piles all this week.
I currently have two piles working – one is the existing 2019/2020 heap and the other is the new summer 2020 heap. The latter is being hot composted in a balanced way and this means that l must continually dig it over and turn it almost daily in order to ensure that it is just that … a balanced burn.
This heap is a true bonus for the year and was able to be started because of my surrounding six neighbour’s free grass, weeds and garden debris l have been gifted this last week ten days and never one to look a gift horse in the mouth l have taken full advantage of my luck and their kindness! It’s also a compost heap that will be ready in the space of 28 days tops from waste to black gold and ready to use in sieved form.
The existing compost heap is now at Week 16 and has been providing quality compost in either sieved black gold or ground compost since weeks 10 and 12 respectively and is almost ready to award out the last of the sieved compost which will be around a half ton which means that sieved wise that heap has managed to supply this garden with 1.5 ton of beautiful compost, never mind the half ton of ground compost – so it has been an extremely effective, productive and totally viable quality compost heap and l have been thrilled with the results. Yes l have worked it, yes l have made it what it is … but l am still really pleased and it just goes to show that ‘we reap what we sow’.
Once l am able to get the first two weeks of April seed sowing out the way and l can take a small break, catch up on my blog reading again, l plan to start the new No Rules Compost series which is due to an email l received last week from a colleague asking for advice on composting – but in there l will be singing the praises of that practice and hot composting which is just great fun and hugely rewarding.
If you look at the video above from last Tuesday … you can see distinctly the heap on the burn as l am turning it … it was and still is reaching and hitting tempratures of between 120 – 160+ degrees Fahrenheit or roughly 50+ Celsius each day after each turning. I first started turning it over last Saturday and here we are the following Saturday and it has now been turned and had fresh content added to it as well and l have spun the pile 5 times. The old heap has been spun twice as well.
It is quite the upper body workout which is an excellent recovery and rebuild exercise for my shoulder too.
The weather this week has made for a cracking start to the April sowings and the garden is seriously vibrant, the birds are all in good form, apart from the sadness yesterday and the loss of one of the robins, but there is just so much birdsong to be heard and l know a lot of people are commenting on this as indeed have l for the last few weeks – why are we hearing it so clearly?
Well two main reasons – one the world is now quieter and we can hear more clearly and 2] nature is much happier that we have finally shut up! I do so hope that there will be some change after all this has started to calm down … but l am also a realist and whilst as an individual l was already on the quieter change – l am not a society or a government and it those two combined that make for the biggest changes.
Bold Blackbird landed five feet away from me.
You may not be able to see this so well , but middle of the image just above hedgeline is a jay in the neighbour’s tree.
There have been many birds in the garden this week the usual Percy’s of course but also some blackbirds and jays too, but many new varieties of smaller birds have been present more so than this time last year.
Percy at first pretending to be part of the tree then just thinking ‘oh whatever!’ and starting to feed!
The tulips in the garden are now in full swing … and are displaying gorgeous colourings of red, yellow and our new exciting orange variations!
But all the garden is now starting to blossom and get ready for the summer months ahead.
A more recent Ava update for the fans of Ava! [Taken 10th April 2020] She is really coming out now even in consideration to a few days ago in Season 4 2020 Beginith!
I’ll not know just yet if l managed to eradicate the blight from her … but l will give us both a clap of well done for getting this far considering that she was so poorly last year.
In the last episode l mentioned the six garden spaces l would be working with this year to make garden easier to manage , they were The Retreat, The Bug Hotel, The Patio, The Main Beds, The Shady and the Front Back and they are all starting to come together although the Patio is slower to take off and get sorted due to the plants that were ordered to be here back in January [so long before lockdown] and were due to be delivered at the start of April, have not yet arrived and only after checking with the company – l have come to realise a refund is in order and they don’t know when they will be in … which is ‘strange’ considering they make a big thing about growing everything themselves!!
This has meant that irrelevent to long term planning and organising l am now behind and have had to order the requirements [ grafted plants] for the patio again.
The Patio Garden is behind the main schedule now due to the grafted plants having not turned up and new plants are now on order to arrive this coming week sometime. However the garden here will mostly be a fruit garden and a herb garden direct for the kitchen. This garden will have gooseberry, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry and then a selection of herbs l am planting this weekend.
The Front Back is the first part to the start of the actual vegetable garden – l have been preparing the soils this week with a view to planting out our French Beans, Runner Beans, Marrows, Courgettes and Cucumbers, Squashes and *Sweet Potatoes [*provided they turn up this week]. But also it will have some quicker crops such as spinach, radish and rocket. I utilised the old greenhouse glass panes as cloches for sown seeds and or soil warmers for the seedlings being planted this weekend.
The Main Beds – 7 raised beds will do the hard core work of the garden this season with hopefully high turn overs for the four main summer beds especially with regards salad crops, whilst the three larger beds are planted up with a view to providing autumn and early winter crops. The garlic bed is doing really well and has now had a supporting twin row of autumn kale planted beside it.
The Retreat is basically the two seater area next to the Bug Hotel and holds the Carrots, Celery and back up French Beans and Horseradish and Rhubarb.
The Bug Hotel is really to be the main ornamental flower, fruit and herb area for the garden and a real bug and bee haven – currently l have planted here or intend to … Cucamelons, Nasturtiums, Wild Flower mixes, Comfrey, Borage, Fennel, Giant Parsley, Marigold, California Poppy, Lipuns and Nigella.
The Bug Hotel is really the centre piece whilst The Retreat and The Shady are to compliment it – in the main, l am hoping that will be once settled and growing a really nice area to relax into and have a drink or a spot of some lunch on lazy summer days.
The Shady looks more shambolic if anything at the moment, but once the seeds have sprouted and the cloches lifted which also act as bird protectors – because they will scratch out the seeds from the containers – this small area can be relaid to how it will be for the season. But here is a wilder form of herb garden mixed with flowers. I currently have sown here … Cutflowers mix, Giant Mustard, Lupins, Sorrel, Corn Salads, Mixed Salads and Rainbow Chards and today l will be planting some taller Fennels and Climbing Mints.
So all in all, a very busy and hopefully highly productive and efficient garden for 2020.
As l like to say ‘Mm, Om, Erm and Um!’ This post has taken me slightly longer to write on account of the photos to be loaded, so l will catch up with you in more detail soon.
Anyway, until next time,
Thanks for reading – Rory