• Kay

Free range children


I bravely put some washing out to dry this morning hoping the rain would at least hold off for a few hours. There is a noticeable chill in the air but I continue to prepare one of the sections of the cold frames for sowing my late crops of carrots, radishes and spring onions. I tried this out last year, principally because I thought that the walls of the cold frames would thwart carrot fly. They are a low flying pest and a low barrier around the carrots is all that is usually needed to deter them. I interplant the rows of carrots with radishes and spring onions. The scent of the onions will also help to deter carrot fly by masking the scent of the carrots. The radishes are a nice fast growing crop might also be less effected by flea beetle in the cold frames. Flea beetles will leave multiple small holes in the radish foliage as they also do to swedes and turnips.

Inevitably, it starts to rain so I go inside to sort through the photos for the talk. I am trying to work out the chronological order of the main projects in the garden between 2008-2015. The first photos I look at are a beautiful set of black and white photos of the children in the garden. These were taken by a friend training to be a professional photographer. She was doing a project on ‘childhood’ and wanted some very natural, ‘free range’ child models and thought of our girls! The pictures include some amongst the newly constructed raised beds which was coincidently exactly the point I had reached in my talk!

It was lovely looking back at these impish six year olds (the pictures were mainly of Aideen and Diane) romping through the garden with Lady (our original dog), building dens and having a great time, how lucky they have been to grow up here, no wonder they don’t want to leave!

When the weather brightened up, I returned to my cold frame and filled it with lots of rows of multiple varieties of carrots, radishes and spring onions. I have only recently returned to growing carrots because they are so cheap to buy, but you cannot beat the sweet taste of home grown carrots.

I could not help but notice the lush growth on the comfrey, only recently cut down for making comfrey tea (liquid fertiliser). The leaves are enormous and so healthy looking, no wonder they provide valuable nutrients for fellow plants. Later, I picked chillies to add to tonight’s sausage and bean casserole although I did not have the heart to pick one of the colourful Razzmatazz chillies.


Courgette wars


Today the weather was much improved, chilly at times but with long periods of warm sunshine. There was quite a wind which was making the massively tall trees along our boundary with the church wave about noisily. I do love this sound, but at the same time I slightly worry that a tree may come down, which could be a disaster if it landed on the house. I put my washing back outside to finish drying and start work on the herb garden, which has put on an amazing amount of growth this year. Some plants are doing really well and even the slow growing myrtles are looking healthy. The fox tail Rosemary has some dead sections but seems ok after a prune. Sadly, some things seem to have disappeared, I could not see a trace of the Scottish lovage and one curry plant has perished. I now have space in a couple of containers and I might use these for some white turmeric tuber/corms next year. James’ mum Janet managed to find a box of these being sold very cheap at a nursery near her home and I would love to grow them. They have a beautiful flower but I presume they are tender. The Lemon Verbena I’m pleased to say is thriving and I have to tie it back to its wall supports and some herbs self-seed quite extensively. I find Woad where the lovage should be, and salad burnet with its very attractive leaves, pops up all over the culinary herb bed. The biggest most rampant herb is the Artemisia ‘Oriental Limelight’, hogging the limelight as usual. I cut this right back which does not make it look particularly attractive, but maybe it will give us some fresh leaves, its most pretty feature.

Aideen is very excited today because Mayflower is due to be lifted out of the water. Later in the afternoon she rushes over to show me a series of excellent photos that Barney has sent her, as the tiny (for a narrowboat) boat is lifted by crane out of the marina. Mayflower is then secured onto Barney’s boat trailer for her trip to Church Gardens tomorrow!

For dinner, I dig up potatoes, cut off two small red cabbages, collect some broccoli, a large apple and gather a large quantity of sizeable courgettes. I cook a chicken casserole which contains a couple of small courgettes as well as carrots and mushrooms and I cover it with sliced potatoes. I make my favourite red cabbage and apple dish and broccoli but my fatal mistake is to slice up one large courgette to cook in butter. It is one courgette too many and at dinner time I face a rebellion from the twins! Aideen and Diane both refuse to eat their courgettes and are not enthusiastic about their red cabbage! I am told firmly that they do not mind courgette hidden in a quiche or disguised in a spag bol, but they do not relish it in plain sight as a dish in its own right! I point out my pile of courgettes on the draining board and say if you live in a kitchen garden you need to eat all of the vegetables! Maybe I could infiltrate one into a chicken and leek pie, obviously I am going to have to proceed under the radar!

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