This post is part of a meme hosted by Helen over at The Patient Gardener's Weblog (her blog can be found here). Thank you Helen!
Yes, you heard that right: the garden has actually seen a lot of action this month. The weather has been mild and relatively dry, considering it's the Dank Dark Depths of Winter, so I've been able to do quite a bit out there. Granted, it's quite boggy and slippery, but it's also the perfect time to be uprooting ill-situated shrubs and breaking ground on new plots. Well, to a certain extent. You don't want to be digging something up right before temperatures plummet, but if the week shows a long period of mild weather and the plant is dormant (and you know how to dig the plant up without disturbing the root ball), I say go for it.
Soon the garlic will be big enough to repel all but the most determined creature.
I took this photo to show a friend how I deal with Overly Enthusiastic Strawberries. Most of the gardeners I follow do the sensible thing and cut the shoots off during the summer. The only trouble with that philosophy is that the height of summer is also when there are vegetables to preserve, tomatoes to can, and weed growth to cope with, not to mention holidays to go on and beaches to visit. Thus this task falls down to the very bottom of the To Do list. Come winter the strawberries have (not so) magically quintupled. But it's not all doom and gloom: I hack off the newbies and tuck them into trays like this. When the older plants get, well, old, I replace them with these. If this tray looks dusty, it's because they have just had kelp meal sprinkled over them. Kelp meal is truly Magic Fairy Dust. Don't believe me, visit in June and see for yourself. One spring, from a two rows of plants measuring 10' by 3', I canned 20 quarts of strawberry jam, froze at least at many bags of puréed berries, and made buckets of strawberry popsicles and crisps. The strawberry crop was then abandoned by my erstwhile strawberry pickers, who claimed utter exhaustion.
I welcome suggestions. Practical ones, mind you. Oh, and I've purchased a Weed Dragon to combat the Bishop's Weed. Those dratted bishops. What did they think they were doing, spreading such a rapacious gospel.
Perhaps if you click on the photo you can see it more clearly.
Anyways, the system is thus: use newspapers to build the risers. It WILL look odd and messy and you must accept this for now. Let it sit for a season, flinging weeds and dirt every now and then until the blocks have built up enough for you to stomp down hard, creating solid and recognizable steps. In the meantime be really really careful walking down them after a rain. Newspaper is very slippery when wet.
Eventually I'll let the grass grow over them, so it looks much more....um...photogenic.
This one seems to have emerged unscathed by slugs.
Give it time, says the voice in my head. Give it time.
A slug is probably just waiting for me to leave.
The brightly coloured ones in the garden centres right now always seem to revert to yellow, that is when they're not shrinking into pathetic little knots of misery, soon to be demolished by slugs.
Here we have some lettuces in a gutter. I'm going to transplant them into larger trays, leaving them in the greenhouse until they get big enough to start harvesting. Come March or April I'll transplant them out, under plastic covers.
This year I've got several varieties: April in Paris, North Shore, Spencer Ruffled, Blue Celeste, Royal Wedding (whose I'm not sure), Zinfandel, and some seeds from last year's peas, the names of which I have lost track of.
It came with a whacking great dose of scale, sadly. I hate scale - it never seems to go away. It lurks in the soil, at the base of the plant, waiting for one to look the other way. My usual method is to spray with soapy oily water, then wipe, wipe, wipe. That splash of blue in the photo? A cloth I keep there to wipe up any stray drips of oil.
So there you go, what my garden is doing right now. It might be winter, but it's a very exciting time in the garden. This is why I never feel gloomy in winter: there is always something to feel hopeful about.