Preparing bed for next year

I was in a creative mode and decided to do something with an old enviromesh ( I bought a load of these many  years ago and they just got dumped in the shed).   After finding my old hose pipe amongst some weeds, I made myself a cloche.   I cut up some bamboo canes and threaded the pipe onto the canes.  I wanted to see how high I could get the canes under the net which was long but not too wide.  I cut the canes to about 21 inches high which seemed about right for the net as the bed was about 1m in width.

This covers 3 square foot plot areas.  Later on I could just have one or two covered but for now I left it over all three plots.  Then Jenson arrived and decided that I had created a new bed for him.  I had to wait to get rid of him so that I could cut some of the hose pipe to fit better, once I had decided how low the canes had to be for the net to just cover.

clochecat

I have been buying bags of manure compost (commercial.. so might not be too good) to cover the beds underneath the black plastic ready for next year.  Having found more caterpillars eating my square foot bed brassicas, I have decided that mesh is the only answer and I want to put some brassicas in this area.

I carried the manure compost up the hill in buckets and started to mulch the soil in the ‘No-Dig’ way.

nodigbed

It took all day as the weather was hot and I was exhausted with all the carrying up and down the hill.  But finally it was covered.  In fact I decided to tidy up the end of the raised area and wow, I just loved how it looked, and smelt, and felt.  I would be happy to just have lovely soil, weed-free, just like this all the time.  I dont need to grow anything!!!!

lovelydirt

However, reality is never this good, so I put back the black plastic and the mesh, so now I should have a lovely bed for next year.  I can’t wait to decide what to grow here.

newcloche

I had a problem trying to get the hose off the first pair of canes so was left sagging but I don’t think that it will reduce the nets effectiveness.   This was a nice project to do but now it is back to weeding the rest of the garden!!!!

Trying successional sowing

I cleared away the last of the chard and beetroot.  I was not impressed with the rainbow beetroot and will keep to bolthardy next year.  I also had the last of the chard which I used up in some green juices.

harvest

I had sown some new seeds at end of July in the greenhouse and put them in the cleared space ( I cant rotate as I don’t have any other plots free, so I prepared by adding lots of new compost and vermiculite and some old peat.   I have been watering a little and often, with a watering can to keep them going.   After all the dry hot days in the past week they were not looking too well.  But a blast of the hose pipe last night seems to have done the trick.

2ndsowing

I have been harvesting lettuce leaves, but I also cleared and replanted with corn salad and winter lettuce (not sure which kind now).  The Rouge D’Hiver did not come up at all so might not be cold enough for them.  I will try another sowing.

cornsalad

I have been eating ripe figs from my tree. I planted this years ago but have only ever had managed to eat 2 figs.  This year it is full of hard green figs, and some ripe brown ones ( I have eaten 6 so far).  I am surprised that the ripe ones were at the back of the plant not at the front that gets the sun.  Maybe the brassicas are ripening them.   Here is a view of the back of the tree.

figs

 

 

Weeding and watering… weeding and watering….

Weeding and watering, that is all that I seem to be doing the last few days.  I am quite pleased that I can given I could not get out of bed 6 months ago.

And now it rains, rains, rains…

I have weeded the gravel steps and some of this area.  I need to finish off when it stops raining.

lavendar bed

This area is on a steep slope and I keep falling down when I try to get some of the heavily rooted weeds out.  The area behind was a bog garden but has been completely taken over by bramble and other weeds.  I think this will be a major job for next year to clear.

So here is the area weeded as best I can.  There is one plant I do not recognise so it may come up.

weededplot

In the middle of the picture is a blueberry, which has been there for many years, but has not really grown.  I found 3 blueberries on it which tasted quite tart.  I need to figure out what to do with the plant.

The rain was good news for me…. Jenson came in the house… was happy to come into the bedroom but not stay downstairs.  I went back to bed to read and to snuggle.  He stayed until tea-time and then he was off… well it had stopped raining then.   My bed, of course, is now wet and muddy and full of hairs, but I enjoyed him being there.

 

Juicing

I am still in the process of getting healthier and losing some weight and having tried every diet there is, I find that I do best when I juice, especially with Jason Vale’s juices.  I have my favourites and have set up a shopping list and plan for them.  I can usually get to day 2 OK and then it all goes wrong, but I managed to lose 5lbs recently when I juiced for 6 days.  I am now only doing 3 days a fortnight.  The original idea for growing veg was to try and grow things that I like to juice in order to save money.  Juicing uses up a lot of veg.  This year, I have had very little produce, other than lots of peas and lettuce, which I dont juice.

juiceharvest.jpg

However I did manage to get some beetroot, red and yellow and some chard which went into a very nice juice along with shop bought carrots, apple and celery.

redjuice

It definitely tasted good.  And I hope to have more produce to juice next year.

Introducing … Jenson Button…. (the cat!)

I am finding the weather too hot to do much gardening as it keeps giving me hot flashes.  I will take some photos when I have finished the areas that I am doing.  Meanwhile I am in the house catching up on some boring housework.   But I am missing one important member of the family.  Here is his story.

I have not had a cat for years, but 3 years ago a stray cat found its way under a plastic cover for a table outside my house.  I was quite scared and kept prodding the cover.  It meowed.  A few hours later (it was a strong gale/storm) it was still there.  I timidly tried to lift the cover and saw two scary eyes in a black face.  I am not sure about cats that bite and the eyes were scary so I jolted back into the house.  I rang a friend who said that I had to find out if the cat was injured and take it to the vet.  I ventured out into the storm, this time I moved the chair under the table so that the cat could try and get down.  I lifted the cover and woooooosh, something black dashed from the table, to the chair past me and into the house!!.

I found it flaked out on my sofa.

jensonfirst

He was very long and thin and had lost hair on one side of his body (the side you cant see).

I only had a tin of tuna in the house, but later he ventured off the sofa to eat something.  Later on he wanted to go out and I let him and he explored the garden.    Then he came inside with me.   I was getting used to him and whilst he ate another tin of tuna.  Then he was off outside again.  Then he disappeared.  I had a catflap but he did not come back that night.

The next day a neighbour asked if I had a black cat as a stray one seemed to have taken up residence in their house and she was not sure she wanted a cat.  I agreed to have him if he was a stray and would take him to the vet.  I had an old cat carrier and off I went.   The vet said the cat was most probably a he and about 3 – 5 years old.   He was chipped.  I was disappointed as this meant that there would be an owner.   The vet gave the cat a once over and declared him fit for me to take home whilst the owner was notified.  Well 4 months later no owner had appeared so the cat became mine officially (adoption certificate to prove it).

Meanwhile I tried to find a name for this cat.  The cat chip came with details of a cat rescue centre in Bristol 4 years previously… but they would not give any details of the cat so I had no name or even info of his age.  Rediculous.

The cat was not reacting to any names and none of the names seem to fit him.  Interestingly I found that someone online had called their cat Mercedes.  I thought that was a good name but for a girl cat.  I like to watch F1 on TV so I thought of McClaren my favourite team.  I tried him with Mac and McClaren but he just stayed on the sofa so I tried Lewis as in Lewis Hamilton…. but no reaction.   My favourite driver at the moment is Jenson Button but I told the cat that he did not have the right colouring to be a Jenson, but strangely the cat sat up and meowed.  I laughed and said I don’t really think you look like Jenson.  He meowed again.   I said “Do you really want to be called Jenson or Jenson Button?”  He jumped off the sofa and jumped onto my lap and head butted me and meowed and sat in my lap looked up at me and purred.  I was a bit scared at the head butt as I was not sure if he was going to bite me but then when he sat in my lap and looked at me, I was a gonner.   I stroked his head and said Jenson.  He meowed so that was that … he was named Jenson Button…. well mainly Jenson as I get some looks when I call Jenson Button in the garden.

Since then he follows me everywhere, does a lot of talking and cuddling, and is my best friend.   And he has the highlight gene.  This means that in the sun or strong light, his black fur turns reddish brown… getting lighter and lighter to almost beige.  And therefore he is looking more like a Jenson Button!!

Here are some pictures of him climbing the stairs in my cottage.

jensonstairs

Looking cute near my cottage

jensoncute

Enjoying the sun, you can see his coat getting paler, although his head mainly stays black.

Img_1062

Unfortunately, since the beginning of June, he has refused to enter the house, so I miss him.  He is still around and I am feeding and cuddling him outside in the garden or going in the woods with him.   Although today it is lunchtime and he has not been seen… and not been fed.    I am trying to steam clean the house in case he does not like something that smells.  Maybe it is the weather, I do hope that he will come back home soon.  Another cause could be that I have a new neighbour and they have a cat (no other cats in the area) and they have already had one big cat fight in my garden.  In the meantime I am trying to spend quality time with him in the garden whenever I see him.

 

 

 

Tumbling Down!

Several times in the past few weeks I have been woken up by the sound of trees crashing down in the woods at the top of my garden.   They have been loud and scary.   When I first moved here there might be one a year, usually in a winter storm, but now they are getting more common and all year round.   The woods is owned by the Forestry Commission and they have no money or staff to look after the trees.  And now the trees are cramped and old and falling down.

I often go off into the woods to have a little walk with my cat.  I have been nervous to go since it might not be safe.  However, yesterday, I ventured out into the woods, if only to escape from all this heat.  My cat came too.

We were dismayed to find that our usual sitting spot (on a fallen tree trunk) for the past few years was now hidden beneath a huge tree that had fallen over.  As it fell it had taken other trees with it.

treesit

We tried to go around but I had to go back home for secateurs.  There were many holly trees and brambles to get through.   On the other side of the tree there were lots of other trees fallen.

treesplit

treedown

It was a shambles.  All our little routes were blocked.

treedown2

It took quite a detour to find a new route home.  It is so sad to see so much damage.  Although I took pictures of all the fallen trees they all look similar so I have not included them all.

treeroots

Now I will wait to see if some of the leaves will rot and give me a better view of a new walk that I can create that is not too arduous for me and for the cat.  I am also hoping that the next fallen tree is not too close to my garden.  These trees were all only a few hundred feet away.

First fig..yummy

It is only one week into August and my fig tree is doing well.  I think the tree is a few years old now and I remember I did manage to have 2 figs in its second year, but since then the wasps have eaten them before me.  This year I will try and do better.

figtree

When I climb up the hill the fig tree has a few green figs hiding amongst the leaves, but when I was sorting out the brassica bed (just behind it) I noticed one brown fig at the back.  I kept thinking about it and then finally I took the plunge and picked it.  It was so soft the neck broke away as I pulled.

I took it indoors to take a photo but had to bite into it, twice,  and it was lovely and sweet.  Not a strong flavour, it is a Brown Turkey.  James Wong of Homegrown Revolution fame, says that this is the least flavoursome of the figs… but I don’t want to chop it down and replace it just yet.  My taste-buds are very sensitive so mild is good for me.

The picture does not do it justice as I think this side is less brown than the other.  Anyway I was surprised that this early there was a fig so ripe and sweet.  I enjoyed it.