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Gardening

It’s a few months late, but here it is, the diary entry for the 28th of October in the Heart Garden. Enjoy!

October 28th

Another lovely sunny gardening day although a bit soggy underfoot – temperatures are still unseasonably warm but at least we’ve had some rain this week as the soil was turning into dust.

The wisteria in the front of the studio was looking decidedly crisp due to lack of water – it’s in a pot so we gave it a good drink and mulch – it also needs careful pruning at this time of year to promote flowering buds.
(Tip for the birds – as well as remembering to put out food for them they also need water to drink and bathe in and for nest building in the spring so a bird bath is a good investment)

Its garlic planting time again – we like French Thermidour – a pink variety, try to plant garlic from good stock – a garden centre or on-line as these will be virus free and suitable for our climate. Garlic needs a long growing season and a cold spell to make the cloves divide into heads – which is why last winter made such a good crop! Plant in rows 4”(10cm) apart and 1 “(3cm) deep  and cover with soil – we can expect to be harvesting these in May or June.

We also planted some red onions – Red Baron,sets not seeds (these are small onions which swell.)Plant these in a shallow drill with their tips just showing above the soil. If you like shallots these also divide– a bit like garlic –but above the ground -so you get about 5 shallots from 1 bulb and you need a bit more growing space. We netted both of these crops at soil level –to protect against cats,mice and birds !

That’s almost the last of our gardening tasks for the year – we still have a bit of pruning to do in the garden – the apple tree,grapevine and roses need a good trim to promote flowers and fruit. Still we will have plenty of winter veg to harvest – leeks,purple sprouting broccoli,curly kale and swiss chard – to keep us interested. In the meantime we can sow broad beans and sweet peas in toilet rolls in the greenhouse ready to get a headstart when we plant them out next spring.

Image by lynn.gardner via Flickr

Strawberries for Eton Mess

The garden is in its glory and full of fresh produce. This year we have a really early crop of strawberries and raspberries and had a fantastic Eton Mess at our last Heart Garden lunch.

Some of the Heart Gardeners want to know how make the meringue so we will be running a demo in the near future.

We put up loads of netting to protect all the soft fruit from the birds. The weeds are growing fast too so we have been doing loads of weeding and loads of watering in the morning and early evening.

The foxes continue to cause havoc in the vegetable beds just outside the studio and we find the most wierd selection of large bones in the yard? Where do they find them?

We are hoping that the foxes will move on soon, perhaps they can find a new home one of the soon to be closed parts of Burgess Park…

More info of the Burgess Park closures on www.friendsofburgesspark.org.uk

Some Pruning tools that can be used to maintai...

Some pruning tools that can be used to maintain a garden

Friday 21st January

It was a sunny day so we spent the day in the allotment and put the art project  to one side (see previous post). We concentrated on pruning the grapevine, rose and apple tree to promote flowers and fruits. It’s causable to do this when dormant, before the buds begin to break as the grapevine will weep if pruned after mid February.

We also cut back the honeysuckle which shoes this bed along the north face wall – all pruning should be handled before nesting time so as not to disturb the birds.

There was heavy rain today, evident by the pounding on our corrugated ‘skylight’ so we did not do as much gardening as we had hoped. We instead surveyed the beds to see what damage the recent snow and cold weather had caused. Everything seemed fine, the brassicas were ok.

Some jobs for us to do next week include pruning the dormant fruit trees and bushes.

In the studio, we took down the handmade Christmas decorations and made wall plaques from clay. The Heart Gardeners collected interesting plants and pressed them into clay  – we will fire them in the kiln after leaving them to dry out slowly. Similar to the sample ceramics we made previously.

When it’s icy, snowing and the ground is frozen, there’s not much gardening to do!

Dust off snow that’s heavy on branches which may snap under its weight but leave the blanket over plants to insulate them.

Keep the birds coming into the garden by feeding them high-energy snacks.We made bird food from lard, bird-seed, figs and apples and poured it into toilet roll holders to hang in the trees. Birds like blackbirds, blue tits and robins are the organic gardeners’ friend – they eat all the pests like aphids and caterpillars that munch our plants!

Heart Gardener Jo ventured to clear the last of the cosmos which was hit by the frost.

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Friday 26th Nov

We continued to mulch the beds in the garden with farmyard manure and netted the rest of the brassicas against the pigeons.

We planted 3 rows of garlic (French, purple Germinador), split the head into cloves and planted 1″ deep 4″ apart – garlic is a hungry crop and needs fertile soil. Also, an extensive wild snap to make to head divide into cloves.

NB: never use garlic from the supermarket, it would introduce viruses into your soil and will be imported from China so won’t be suitable for our climate.

We dug up a huge harvest of Jerusalem artichokes –  not to everyone’s taste! And replanted some tubers for next year.

We also finished off clearing the bed full of strawberries and have lots of spare plants going for free – just call into the studio and ask or they will be composted!

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Another update from the Heart Gardeners!

Friday 19th Nov

We netted the  brassicas (sprouting broccoli and kale) with bird proof netting because the pigeons get very hungry at this time of year.

We spread a thin layer of manure over the soil and we will leave that for the worms to decompose.

We try not to dig in our raised beds as they are full of compost, manure and organic matter, it is better not to dig. If we were gardening on clay straight into the ground we could dig.

We planted a wisteria Iko Yama Fuji which we will scramble up the front entrance of the studio  and trail over our copper canopy.

We also planted tulips and violas in the same box. We have been planting indoors also. Hyacinths and daffodils for Xmas box. We have left them outside at the moment. We watered them and will water occasionally if there is no rain.

We also planted more daffodil bulbs in all the containers.

We planted up some strawberry runners  from the parent plants outside and made a metal hairpin shape to secure them so that they root down and don’t rise up above the surface of the soil.

Friday 12th Nov

We harvested turnips and we cleared out 2 large concrete planters , planted some mixed Cornish daffodils (good nectar source for bees) and topped up with some home made compost.

We cut the hops down to dry to use the greenery for Xmas wreaths. They smell lovely.

 

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