Sunny gardening

Us Brits are well known for being weather obsessed, so you will forgive me for telling you that the past few days have been glorious. The weather has been lovely and so this weekend has been all about planting. I had intended to complete my sketchbook contribution this weekend, but the timing of the good weather made it ideal for planting some of this year’s crops. The forecast for next weekend (when there are two bank holidays) is poor, so crafting is much more likely then.

In the past few days I have (whist wearing my new apron) potted up tomatoes and sowed lots of seeds: squashes, courgettes, a variety of purple sprouting broccoli that sprouts in the summer, chives, parsnips, asparagus peas, various lettuces, mizuna and rocket. I’ve cleaned out pots, weeded and removed brambles. From the shed I retrieved a plastic bin with a lid and filled it with nettles and water to turn into nitrogen-rich liquid feed – it gets stinky, but it’s good stuff and it’s free. And I planted a whole raised bed with potatoes and netted these to prevent Max (who I think is some sort of potato hound) from digging them up and eating them.

I’ve also been admiring the growth of other plants in the limery – lettuces, melons, lemongrass seedlings and carnivores:

The sun has gone in now, hence finding the time to write, but I am feeling very satisfied with my activities. What have you been up to this weekend?

Flippin’ fumitory

You quite often hear that there’s no such thing a s a weed, just a plant in the wrong place. Well, in that case, today I have been “plant-in-the-wrong-place-ing”! It’s true, that botanically there is no definition of a weed, but all gardeners know exactly what they are in their own garden.

Not the best onion patch!

Not the best onion patch!

A few weeks ago, the hens got into the onion bed and had a jolly good root about. I was so fed up, that I have just been ignoring it since then, which means that nature has had its way and it was a riot of “plants in the wrong place”. The chickens had eaten most of the self-seeded red mizuna and what remained were a few spindly onions along with a little bit of self-heal, some bitter cress, a sow-thistle or two and huge amounts of fumitory.

The few remaining onions uncovered

The few remaining onions uncovered

Recently., I have been trying to add wild leaves into our salads, so I consulted The Weeders Digest* and discovered no suggestions for fumitory. I know that the chickens turn their beaks up at it, and so it is destined for the compost… not one of the large wooden bins that Mr Snail-of-happiness emptied out on Sunday, but a thick plastic compost bag for a few months to ensure that the roots are completely killed off and there’s no chance of perpetuating the plants via compost (fortunately there are no seeds yet). Green Deane (Eat the Weeds) confirms that fumitory is not edible, but notes that you can use the flowers to make a yellow dye that’s good for wool… strange since the flowers are pink and purple!

Ready for composting in the dark

Ready for composting in the dark

Both we and the hens are happy to eat bitter cress, so that won’t go to waste. Apparently we can even eat the leaves of sow-thistle (you have to cut the prickles off older leaves), but I really don’t fancy it, so that can go in the compost too. You can also eat the young leaves of self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), according to Plants for a Future,  but they are quite hairy, so I don’t think I’ll bother with those either.

I remember talking to a mycologist (mushroom expert) once who noted that just because something is edible does not mean you would want to eat it! I’m really in agreement about this, and anyway the compost needs feeding too! Never fear, though… my own plants are coming on a treat in the greenhouse:

All sorts of seeds have germinated now

All sorts of seeds have germinated now

 

-oOo-

* Harland, Gail (2012) The Weeders Digest: Identifying and Enjoying Edible Weeds. Green Books.

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