Friday, 24 June 2011

Lettuce Lawn

I've heard of a chamomile lawn, indeed I've tried to grow one several times, with limited success it has to be said, but how about a lettuce lawn? This bit of grass is where the Hubbard table chickens lived, and where they consumed many bolted lettuces, and that's possibly the reason for this patch of Green Salad Bown growing in the middle of the grass. Come to think of it, the bolted lettuces were overgrown, but I doubt whether many had had chance to set seed, so maybe it just blew in from the veg patch. I bet I couldn't grow lettuce here if I tried.

It's growing really well though, so as I said before, if things just come up I like to leave them, extra pickings of salad for free. Watch out for Mr Wilkinson coming along on his lawn mower though!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Unexpected Item In The Potting Area

If you share the rather relaxed attitude to the garden that I have, you can often come across unexpected lovely, and sometimes not so lovely things, small pleasures which tidier gardens may miss out on. 

There are weeds. I know there are weeds.

In fact there are quite a lot of "arisings" which have not yet made their way to the "unplaisance". But lots of things come up in the garden which can turn out to have  beneficial effects. Now I'm obviously not talking about horrors like Couch Grass and Bindweed here, and I do my gardeners best to keep such things at bay, but I do allow many things to self seed, and if I like the look of them when they grow I just leave them. Even if it looks to someone else like I have just failed to weed properly.

So the little bit of apple mint by the strawberry bed has turned into a bit of a hedge, and likewisethe odd comfrey plant in the path. But passing the apple mint yesterday on my way to the greenhouse, I noticed this eye catching chap

so I had a closer look, decided I didn't know what it was, and had to nip indoors and check it out online. Turns out it's a Scarlet Tiger Moth (Callimorpha dominula), -the scarlet bit's on the underside so you see it when it flies off - and it loves to feed on comfrey! So that's my bit for wildlife, and a good excuse for leaving the comfrey growing in the path. Bees also love comfrey flowers, so it's useful for the "June gap" when early flowers are over and high summer ones not yet out.
So anyway,when I eventually got to the greenhouse, the first seed tray I lifted revealed this somewhat warty gentleman having a nice after lunch siesta. We seem to have a healthy population of frogs and toads, despite the presence of grass snakes, I guess it's all a question of balance. One thing we don't have a major problem with is slugs though, this rather fat toad looks as though he's been enjoying regular slug banquets.
It was all he could manage to do to waddle off (toads tend to walk rather than hop like frogs) in a huff to find a quieter spot where no one would come along poking about with trowels and generally ruining the ambiance of the restaurant.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Rhubarb, The Colonel Gaddafi of the Allotment

Well rhubarb time seems to be drawing to a close. Thank heavens. It (the rhubarb patch) never seems to get any smaller, though goodness knows I've done my best - I've given lots away, - visitors are seen staggering off down the lane, two bowed legs tottering along beneath the mountain of red stems and green leaves. I've even dug some up in an effort to reduce the Occupied Area, but rhubarb clings to its power base in the allotment with a tenacity reminiscent of a middle eastern despot. I'm expecting Tony Blair to be popping round any time now.

And worse still,  much to Mr Wilkinson's consternation, Rhubarb Crumble is off the menu as I'm still on the diet.  Sort of.  So casting around for ways in which I could  usefully put this earliest of the year's fruit crop on the menu, I came upon Jamie's idea of Rhubarb Bellinis which I rather fancy.

Or possibly this reasonably healthy idea from one of my favourite cooking blogs Smitten Kitchen

neither are stricly in the diet regime though....Ah well, the things one has to endure for International Diplomacy.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

It's been a while....

I can't believe how long it is since I last posted. Shameful. But you'll be relieved to know that the weeds in the veg garden are as prolific as ever, so plus ca change, as they say....

The lack of rainfall here has meant a great deal of time moving the hosepipe around the garden just to stop things dying of thirst. And the blog isn't the only thing I've neglected either - the tomato plants have only just gone out,

 and other tender things like peppers and aubergines are still in pots!

Also shameful. So now that I've given myself a good ticking off, I can at least say that the long border is looking pretty good.

 The roses are just coming out,and the peonies and delphiniums are inadequately staked but really lovely for all that, albeit  with a slightly inebriated Saturday night at 2am sway.

These are my favourite kinds of plants, early summer cottage garden reliables - a bit blowsy for some but perfect for me!

Life in the chicken run is pretty quiet at the moment. My two new Goldtops have gone broody already, which is just what I hoped for, and they are installed in two separate runs with six each of Lavender Auracana, and Rhode Island Red eggs to sit on. In fact three of the Lavender Auracanas have hatched this morning.

Not a very good picture I'm afraid, but you have to be a bit quick around grumpy mother hens with new chicks. But then I suppose I'd be a bit grumpy if I'd been sitting on my own in a box for three weeks....

 The three Cuckoo Marans that I hatched in the incubator earlier in the year are now in the run, but I have the suspicion that two of them are cockerels. It's too early to tell definitively, but it looks like at least one roast dinner in prospect! We will have to see.

One of the reasons for my lack of posting recently is we've been busy looking around at houses, as we are thinking of moving to somewhere with a bit more land, not just so that I can grow more weeds, though no doubt I will, but so that I can keep some livestock. I've had quite a bit of experience now with chickens, ducks, and bees, but as I said to the estate agents, I'd like to branch out into something without wings. Like say, pigs, or sheep. Or a lovely Jersey cow. I think I'm probably getting carried away to smallholding heaven - pigs might fly, oh no not wings again.....


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