The Cottage Smallholder

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Finally a whole weekend in the garden: Plans and promises

Photo: Busy bees

Photo: Busy bees

I spent most of the day in the garden today. I have prepared the borders in the kitchen garden and should have been setting seeds but I was drawn to tackle The Border of Stones.

This is not a horticultural installation rather a border that was laid on top of the place where the basket weavers’ pig sty and outbuildings were knocked down covered with a thin layer of topsoil and laid to lawn.

Over the years I have removed about six barrow loads of stones from a border than cannot measure more than 4’ x 8’. The stones gradually move their way up towards the surface. Today I took all the plants out of the border and spent a good seven hours double digging and removing the stones – it always seems to be two large builder’s barrow loads each time. I’m lucky that the gardening muscles are the same as the decorating muscles. I can work for eight hours in the Spring without dialling an osteopath.

Even though I did this last May, albeit just a two hour sojourn, the plants suffered on hot days looking wilting and unhappy. Last winter I lost several plant friends. The freezing weather and presumably ice cold stones were just clearly too much for them. So another deeper overhaul was a priority.

I noticed that the edge of the border was meandering. So I straightened it removing yet more stones.
“No one will notice it.” Said Danny. ”I don’t know why you bother.”
“But I notice it. I want a decent border. When the back door is open this is the border that I look at.”
My mum always says overhaul your borders before May and puddle the plants in well.
“If you tweak after May you will be watering special plants all summer and you’ll grow to resent them. Plants should give pleasure, after all.”

The stones were replaced with a couple of barrowloads of homemade compost. Then I divided the plants into two camps. Those to stay and those to go. The Larkspur was moved to a bigger border and the hellebores joined two similar ones in another border. I popped the remaining plants back, puddling them in well. And then planted five new plants that I’d picked up at Homebase – five for £10.  Lily of the Valley, Alstromeria (Princess Lilies, recommended by Pamela last summer), Physalis (Chinese lanterns), Echinacea and Monarda. The latter always remind me of Ostriches – real fun plants.

Tomorrow I’m going to dust off my electric propagator. This speeds up seed germination considerably. Next week will be a flurry of new seeds into the propagator and germinated seeds to the greenhouse.

The leaves are just beginning to open on the trees. They are that wonderful bright clean springtime green. And the sky was blue all afternoon. I love this time of year, full of plans and promise. The Min Pins are all sound asleep. Three small heads and necks followed the journey of the garden fork for hours. Apart from Danny, the household all soaked up vitamin D today and I’m feeling much more positive tonight.

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  1. springtime

    Isn’t this time of year wonderful!? It’s great to get out into the garden and get things sorted! Although we lack the borders, I did spend half an hours planting more seeds this afternoon! I’m not quite sure where they will go if/when they germinate, but I’m sure I’ll find some pots!

  2. Hey there. Stones? Does that mean your soil is more loam? I have clay at the allotment and in my back garden…. Talking of allotments Pamela, if you know if 5 other people who wish to have an allotment in you area, you can write to the council who are honour bound to find you some land somewhere to have an allotment. You have to lobby your MP, heres a link to someone talking about it lately.

    Give it a try. We kept being knocked off the list. Until I went to the council offices and demanded to see their so called lists. Sheepishly a lady came down with a dog earred print out and I proved we had been removed and put to the bottom twice. I kicked off, wrote a letter to the parish and to the local council, we had to write to both and we were given an allotment within 2 months.

    Back to the post, could you build the borders up and then no dig them?

    By the way Fiona, I am having problems and my blog feeder isnt updating I have been told! Just incase you thought I had given up

  3. I have been gardening all weekend too as I realised it was the best thing for me.
    I am feeling much more positive now as there is nothing like the spring scented air and the warm sun on your skin.
    We have a large rosemary bush alongside the front of our house that had begun to look very sorry for itself. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with it as it is usually so lush and green.
    Whilst talking to my neighbour the other day she said she thought it looked like something had been eating it as there were tiny bite marks on the leaves. Sure enough there were. On closer inspection I noticed a ladybird sized bug with metalic body.
    I looked them up on google and they are whats known as a Rosemary beetle.
    Has anyone else had this problem as we have had the rosemary bushes for over 10 years and have never encountered them before. They can also affect lavender and thyme also.

  4. Scott at Realepicurean

    I’ve done the gardening on and off over the last week or so. One blackcurrant bush now gone (it wouldn’t fruit), and a whole load of tomato plants in pots. Hopefully it’ll all work out!

  5. Allotment blogger

    Isn’t it great to put your back into some digging? Today it’s runner bean trenches for me … but I went to the Farmer’s Market first and bought garlic foccacia and organic cheddar to make a Sunday picnic in the sun.

  6. I too spent most of the day in the garden, once the hens were cleaned out I set to clearing the border at the back of the garden under the apple trees. I trimmed the old growth from the lemon balm letting the lovely narcissi show off their yellow flowers. It’s another good day so getting ready to go in the greenhouse and sow some marigolds and sunflowers.
    Happy gardening everyone

  7. magic cochin

    Gardening on a sunny day – what better tonic for body and soul 🙂


  8. Joanna

    The sand pit seats appeared about four days ago from the snow and the snow has sunk another 6 inches and patches of grass are appearing with a day of sunshine ahead – could it be we are going to get in our garden soon! Your posting is making me itch to get out there and start digging.

    Pamela is there any chance that you and a few others around can get together and campaign for more allotment space? Do you think there are any spaces nearby that are not used that could be used?

  9. Pamela

    I’m really quite jealous. My friend received a phone call a couple of days ago with the good news that she is at the top of the allotment list. Today she went out to buy some of the fruit trees and bushes that we had talked about over dinner. I, on the other hand, have been on the list for 2 years now and have not moved up at all. It just goes to show that the availability of allotments varies greatly from town to town. I planted up a box of mixed lettuce to go on my kitchen window sill today. It is the best I can do at the moment.

  10. Your last paragraph said it all, sheer enjoyment with the promise of better weather at last. We have been busy today on lots of gardening jobs, it’s just wonderful to be outdoors.
    By the way, I really enjoyed ‘All Animals are Equal But…..’ (well you knew I would!) x

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