The Pumpkin Patch
7 JUNE 2020
When I went outside first thing this morning (before going over the the Annexe to get dad up) I went into the fruit cage to collect strawberries for breakfast and made some unwelcome discoveries. My baby dwarf walnut tree had blown over, at first sight I assumed it had snapped. My poor walnut tree has been having a difficult time, first I thought after the winter that it had died. This was because the rootstock it was grafted onto appeared to have rotted on the inside, and the tree showed no signs of life. Then there was a sprout, and it appeared to have revived and was doing quite well until today. On closer inspection I could see that although the rootstock trunk is disintegrating, there seems to be roots anchoring it to the soil. I tied it to its support and said a prayer.
I then noticed the middle blueberry bush in the bath seems to have expired (blueberries are incredibly fussy) and finally one and a half gooseberry bushes were looking strange, when I looked closely I could see tiny green caterpillars eating the leaves, generally not a good day for the fruit cage!
I had decided to deadhead the fruit cage sweet peas as one of the first jobs of the day, I have a good system where I tuck the ball of string into the waistband of my leggings to keep hands free for cutting. Then because we had a heavy down pour of rain yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to persuade James and Meave to put a barrow of compost onto each of the dahlia beds. I realised when I went to rake them that they were still dry despite the rain, so I hosed them as well. I am trying to make these beds a bit more welcoming before I plant out the dahlias.
James' parents come back today because his dad is trying to help him fix the buggy (this has been a frustrating process) to help us move bricks etc. Janet has very kindly made us a rhubarb crumble (from yesterdays rhubarb) and has also been experimenting with different types of rhubarb jam for us to try.
We all have lunch from James' new BBQ, and then she offers to help while James and his dad work on the buggy. I ask her to pick strawberries... we have quite a glut and our intention is to give some away to friends. Janet takes some home to make jam, and we have two big bowlfuls to give away and a last bowl of damaged strawberries will go to Pecky (the chicken).
I am now planting out pumpkins and squash, starting with the butternut squash. I plant these in the cut out squares in the plastic membrane that covers the pumpkin patch and I add our homemade compost to every planting hole. I tie some to canes or secure them with string to bricks to save them from being blown about and damaged. I add artificial butterflies on wires to the canes, this will help mark the points to water when the ground is covered in leaves. By the end of the day I have planted 58 squash and pumpkins.
Patrick & Diane, and later Aideen carry on clearing up after tree felling, it is incredible how different the orchard is looking, they have all worked really hard.