A tale of two sewing machines

You’ll be wondering what this has to do with gardens. It does, be patient. This is the first sewing machine: It’s a hand powered Singer, nearly a hundred years old and belonged to my grandmother. We looked it up online and the model suggests it was made in 1923 and it still works perfectly well. To be honest I can’t imagine my grandmother ever using it. She wasn’t the domesticated type, though she was certainly a gardener and I love that I still have her annotated gardening book – for more on this see here Anyway, the sewing machine passed … Continue reading A tale of two sewing machines

Digging for .. vegetables

What a glorious day it’s been. A peculiar one undoubtedly, but the sun has shone and a lot of people have got out into their gardens. I spoke to neighbours across the hedges on all three sides of mine, mainly to apologise for my cats but also to share the joy of the sunshine. Fortunately none of them seem to mind the cats. I was going to sow seeds today but decided instead to make a new raised bed. Why? Not sure really, maybe it was a ‘I’ve got to do something’ feeling, or maybe just that the horrible conifers … Continue reading Digging for .. vegetables

Sowing seeds of hope

We are living in strange times. Plans are being cancelled, people are worried. Yesterday, I tried to keep a focus on the future by sowing seeds. Here are some I sowed earlier, some mixed salad leaves, in a pot in the seed palace, just germinated but ready to grow into something exciting in a few weeks: Yesterday I made a start on the more delicate seeds, sowing tomato seeds in a little propagator indoors. I’ve started with two varieties: Tigerella and San Marzano. I have some others in packets but I’ll sow a few at a time to see what … Continue reading Sowing seeds of hope

First frog

Today I spotted my first frog of the season, not in the pond, but deep in a compost bin. I had been doing some spring tidying: weeding, hacking things back, looking for signs of new growth. I went to deposit some woody prunings in my very long-term woody pruning compost bin – made from an old leaking water barrel. It’s been sitting there for four or five years, not doing very much but today I noticed that it had produced some quite useable compost. I emptied some out and sieved it, producing three bucketfuls of beautiful crumbly stuff. I’m not … Continue reading First frog

Autumn light

It’s just after 5pm and light is leaving the sky, the inevitable effect of the clocks going back and the beginning of the dark months of winter. But we’ve been blessed with a glorious autumn day and I’ve spent most of it in the garden and allotment. I cut back my runner beans which seemed to be finished for the year, leaving the sweet peas which clamber up between the beans. They should survive until the first hard frost: I also cleared out the cucumber bed. The cucumbers have been awesome but have now stopped growing. I raked over the … Continue reading Autumn light

Nesting bees

It was one of those days when you are sitting having your lunch, pondering the nature of utility and beauty and realising that your garden is not quite passing the William Morris test: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ –¬†for more see here , where I argue that the test does not apply to the garden. In the garden there are many many beautiful things but also some that are not beautiful but are useful, mostly old plastic buckets and odd bits of wire caging which keep cats … Continue reading Nesting bees

Baywatch

I’ve been on the hunt for a new bay tree since losing the last one to the dratted vine weevils I found one in a pot in my local DIY store   But being from a DIY store rather than a proper garden centre, it had not one but, I think I counted, sixteen plants crammed into this tiny pot. I hate waste , so I planted one rooted cutting in the herb bed in the front garden, where it looks a little out of place but hopefully will grow tall and strong, and the others all in individual pots. … Continue reading Baywatch

Rain, hail, seeds and holly

It’s twenty past ten on a Sunday night and I STILL haven’t got round to sowing the seeds I was going to sow this weekend. It’s been a weekend of storms and snow and hail and sleet and rain and the odd sunny spell, during which I cut back my awesome autumn fruiting raspberries and mulch them with lots of yummy compost. While doing this I noticed tiny signs of growth in the seeds in the seed palace and I spotted a baby holly growing in one of my many ‘wildlife patches’ aka, messy bits, in the garden: During a … Continue reading Rain, hail, seeds and holly

Seeds

The seed palace is now populated! I had a small window of time this morning to sow some seeds, resulting in two small trays of oriental salad and one of sweet peas: I also sowed some broad beans and spinach in the surprisingly warm ground. The sun is deceptive though and I have covered these with a cloche: Just to show that I don’t always, or even usually, rush out and buy new stuff, you will be pleased to know that this cloche is constructed from a twenty-five year old frame and has a cover from another defunct plastic seed … Continue reading Seeds

Radishes

I dug up these radishes in the garden today: I know they don’t look very appetising but I’m not proposing to eat them. These are what is left of the summer’s super flowering purple radishes, ‘purple plum’,which produce lovely flowers but are tricky for actual radishes: These impressive flowers have finally succumbed to frost so I dug them out. While I was doing this, I discovered that they still had some impressive seed pods: You can eat the seed pods but not when they are dried out like this. Each pod is full of tiny new seeds: So that’s this … Continue reading Radishes