Sunday, 17 July 2016

Garden tour for Dad

My father and I in Spain summer 1964
Today marks ten years since my father died and I although I am long past the mourning stage, I do think about him often and I enjoy knowing how thrilled he would be for me in having such a loving partner, a super place to live and a gentle lifestyle.

My father had a love hate relationship with his garden, much of it he really enjoyed and like all of us, sometimes it just felt like a chore. It was Dad who helped me discover the joy of growing plants and even as an adult with my own home he would grow annual flowers for me in his greenhouse and give them to me when they were ready to plant out after the last frost.

So, this morning as I did my daily walk around the garden, I took photos of the things that I would show to Dad if he was here walking around with me.
The tomatoes in the greenhouse are coming along. We ate our first tomato earlier in the week and there are now another four ready to eat. I've think that next year I will get the plants into the ground in the greenhouse rather than grow them in pots as the ones planted directly into the soil are growing much more strongly. I'll also get them into the ground earlier than I did this year.
One of the Cream Legbar chickens has been sitting on a clutch of eggs for 11 days now. We leave her alone to do her broody thing apart from checking on her twice a day and partially opening the door to her little house each morning (and closing it at night) just to give a little ventilation in there. She is lying so flat on the eggs that she looks like she has melted. I hope that she is as good at being a mother as she has been about sitting on her eggs.
The patty pan squashes are just starting to grow little fruits, this one is about an inch across, small but as it's our first squash in the garden, I think it looks just perfect.
 The squash are planted on top of one of the spent brewery grain compost piles. When we made the pile and planted the squash plants in little soil pockets, the pile almost reached the top of the pallet bay. As you can see, it has now reduced to about half the height it was.
The pumpkins that were planted in a large compost heap are coming on in leaps and bounds. Some of the leaves are now about a foot across and there are lots of flower buds, so hopefully we will get a few pumpkins. The seeds were given to me by my grandson, so I would like to be able to give him a pumpkin as a 'thank you for my present'.
The sweetpeas (which were my father's favourite flower to grow) have burst into bloom as they scramble up the rustic wigwam that I made using hazel poles. The scent of them fills the air around them and is a lovely way to be greeted as I walk through the gate.
This apparent mess is the nest that Mrs Warne has made in the base of a compost bay. We haven't had any eggs from the ducks for a few days and last night Mr J discovered that she had created this splendid nest and found three eggs in it. She certainly looked less than impressed this morning that her stash of eggs had disappeared, so I hope that she doesn't now go and find another place to build a nest. It won't be long before (hopefully) there will be some ducklings to join them in their side of the paddock. The eggs are due to hatch around 29th July and the ducklings should be out in the paddock with them two to four weeks later.
The broad beans have grown well, it's the first time I have grown them as I didn't like them when I tried them as a child. I ate a few this week in a supper made from home grown vegetables and I really liked them. So now Mr J will have to share the broad bean crop!
The pea plants have started cropping even though the plants are less than a foot high, now we have put some netting up for them to climb up, I am hoping that they will scramble up the netting and produce even more lovely pea pods filled with sweet little peas.
The damson trees (or are they plums?) are heavily laden with ripening fruit. There are so many fruit that we will be able to eat them fresh, bottle, freeze, make jam, jelly, sauces, sorbet and wine and still have plenty left over for the birds, bees and other insects to have their fill.
White flowered White Lady and Flavour Star runner beans are in full flower now and small beans are starting to form, although I've noticed that a few of them are showing signs of slug attack. I will need to be more vigilant about slug removal in the mornings and evenings. I really dislike picking slugs off plants, I hate the residue that gets left on my hands (or gloves) and don't take any pleasure in disposing of them.
The Legbar girls had been a little under the weather since their move to their new house, but I'm pleased to see that they have picked up again and seem happy and settled in their new arrangement. They are even starting to accept that the new Cream Legbar cockerel is their mate and tolerate his 'attention'.
I am delighted that the parsnip bed is thriving, I was so unsure that the parsnip seed would germinate as I didn't get them into the ground until late May. But nature has a way of catching up and the plants are now six to eight inches high. The marigolds that mark the rows of parsnips are redundant in terms of being row markers, but are giving a wonderful display of colour and the pollinating insects are loving them.
I am completely confused by the growth of some plants. This bed has perpetual spinach on the right carrots (and weeds) in the centre, dwarf sunflowers on the left and two rows of purple sprouting broccoli. Some of the purple sprouting seems to being growing well, but other plants are hardly growing and I don't understand why there's such a disparity in size. The plant in the back of the photo is about twice the size of the two nearer the front.
I have the same issue with the January King cabbages. Most of the two rows are romping away, producing lots of new luscious growth, while one plant has almost failed to grow and two near it are not doing as well as the rest.
 Some of the first lettuces that I planted have been harvested by cutting at the base, then regrown and we've had a second crop of leaves, but now they have started to bolt and go to seed. So this morning I lifted those plants and gave them to the chickens. I know that the girls prefer kale to most other greens, so I wasn't sure that they would touch the lettuces, but the plants see to have met with their approval.

A little later this morning, my sister and I will be going to put some flowers on Dad's grave, so I'm going to cut some sweet peas to take with us, but in the meantime, of course, it's time for a cuppa.

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  1. I think you've done really well Liz and I'm sure your dad would have been very proud. I just wish I had your energy...I've been in tears this afternoon because I hadn't got the energy to walk about 25 meters to the tool store, but tomorrow's another day. Sheila xx

    1. Oh Sheila, sounds like you've had a horrid afternoon. I have them too. After 4 months bed bound last summer I am trying to make the most of being up and about now because I never know when it's going to hit me again. But there are lots of days that I am done in by 9 in the morning and spend the rest of the day on the sofa. I just don't write about them as they don't make very interesting reading. 'Sat on sofa, stared into middle distance, stayed there for 5 hours, got up & went upstairs to bed.' Not the most stimulating of blogs! Hugs to you & yes tomorrow is another day. xx

    2. Thanks Liz. I just find it so frustrating after always being active. The winter of 2013/4 hubby was not well and I had to do all the snow clearing and fetching the logs etc, but I couldn't do it now. Not that there's any snow to clear and we certainly don't need logs in the summer, but you know what I mean. lol We have 7 cu mtrs of logs waiting to be stacked in the woodshed, but we've decided that this year we'll just tip them in a big heap rather than stack them...that's if it stops raining long enough for them to dry out! Take care. Sheila xx

  2. So is it to late at 55 to start a home stead? I have a lot of questions but not enough space

    1. Absolutely not too late! We are in our fifties & never imagined that this is what we'd be doing, but we are loving it! We moved here about 8 months ago and every day we say how pleased we are that we took the leap. Sure it's frustrating not to be as strong or fit as I was 20 years ago, but I probably appreciate it more now. Feel free to fire away with questions, I'm more than happy to answer them if I can.

  3. G'pa would love the small holding .. Although I'm sure he would have his ruler out to check your plant spacing! <3 beautiful blog cx


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