Salad days

I’m starting to get up to speed with all the other things that don’t need the propagator for a little artificial warmth burst. The aubergines are out now, having hogged the propagator for ages, and I might even put a few more in. Right now, the Roma tomatoes are in there, getting a little bit of warmth to heat their little roots.

I’ve planted a couple of different types of lettuce – both packets from Lidl for 29 cents. The first are laitue feuille de chêne – what we call oakleaf lettuce in England. These are just standard green ones. The second type are butterhead lettuces – quatre saisons – and I’m going to start a few seeds each week instead of having a glut of them. I might even grow them in containers, since I’d rather have them growing in succession. They take about two and a half months to crop. Thus my lettuce-loving friends can have some when they’re ready.

The main task has been to get everything ready for planting and to get the beds ready, so I spent yesterday battling with the rotavator and digging out edges that had disappeared. And yes, it hurt!

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The next thing will be the grass, which is at epic length. The Bellonne has now disappeared into whichever cavity it resides in drier times, but it has left behind a stench and a white residue, besides lots of moss and dead stuff. Plus, it’s still a muddy quagmire. It’s going to take a few days for that to dry out properly. I can’t decide whether it is a good thing to have a flood, and the garden will be filled with underground nutrients and residue, or whether it is a bad thing and it’s washed good stuff away. I guess it has removed one problem, temporarily, and that is the dandelion lawn. That place is a blaze of yellow glory in the spring, usually.

I’ve also splashed out on some strawberry plants, because the ones I have are kind of accidental and not very productive anymore. They run along the edge of the polytunnel and have about three strawberries. I guess they need feeding! So I bought some little ones to put in pots. I got cijosée and Charlotte plants and hopefully, they will give me a good crop of fruit. I got 12 of each and they’re currently waiting while I decide on the best place for them. I’m thinking in pots in the polytunnel where the chickens and birds can’t eat them. If they’re in containers, they can go on top of the newspaper pile I’ve put down to suppress some of the weeds. They were on special offer in L’Eclerc Brico. They cost me as much as four punnets of strawberries, so they better give me at least four punnets worth over the next couple of years!

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I also bought my gladioli corms. I am a late lover of gladioli. I never could get the image of Morrissey with his gladdys out of my head and it kind of ruined it for me, so I was never a fan. I don’t know why. I think Dame Edna had something to do with it as well. Madame left a few corms in and they’re stunning, so I’m going to add some more. Not sure where they will go yet, but I am definitely becoming a bulb lover, something I never was before.

Another thing the longer evenings are giving me is more time to do other stuff. I’ve been poring over Pinterest recently. I love that place. Sure, a lot of stuff ends up being really insular – everybody pins it – and there’s not as much new content anymore, but what there is – wow! I follow lots of gardening and craft boards, and every day I am awash with amazing images of things I will never do and gardens I will never possess. I can but dream! Is that a good thing? I’m pretty sure both Robert Burns and John Steinbeck said it was NOT a good thing. To be sure, it’s giving me garden envy. I need to write a bestselling book that will make me millions of pounds and then I can live here and spend all week in the garden. I might blog, from time to time, but just to make you all jealous of my wonderfully cultivated coffee-table-magazine garden.

How’s this beauty?

Dedicated_to_SelvaggiaI confess, I already had this idea. First, it was because Steve had a boat in the UK. He never went in it, and for some reason it ended up with loads of plant pots in it, filled with herbs. Then, I have a boat-shaped piece of land which would look just marvellous with a boat structure and some plants in it. It is a pretty cool idea, but of course, those damned Italians got there first.

Pinterest is just perfect for a 15 minute browse in the evening with a cup of tea. It gets me all giddy about the morrow.

I’ve picked up a couple of tiny clematis and I’m also thinking about where they should go. I don’t have a good track record with clematis – I bought loads in Bolton and they never grew. I know they’re fussy, but mine just died straight away! I have a new bed I’ve created, with an old ladder as the beginning of a climbing support, but since it is on the north-facing side of the barn and gets very little sunshine, it’s probably not ideal. I’m actually thinking about the space opposite the house, which gets sunshine in the afternoon. I still need something for this bed though! North-facing non-invasive climbers. Any ideas, garden buffs?

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Poor, ugly wall. It forms part of the barn and closes in what is now the chicken house (you can see the door on the left) and what was once rabbit auschwitz, filled with rabbit cages. Poor rabbits. Every time I went in there, I heard echoes of Bright Eyes. I’m far too sentimental to be a meat-eater. You could easily have 40 or so rabbits in there though, if you felt like it. I, of course, do no such thing.

The bed isn’t very level yet. I put some weed-mat down and then some soil and composted manure, but it needs another 50l or so of soil. I would have finished it off, but it was so windy that I kept losing hats and gloves and things.

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4 thoughts on “Salad days

  1. If you want a clematis that will cope with north facing, and is lovely, and evergreen, and scented, fork out for C. armandii (it won’t be cheap). Plant clematis very deep — a good 10cm over the depth they come in their pot — that will help avoid the killer fungus they are prone to when disturbed.

  2. Haha, you say ‘ugly wall’ and I think it’s gorgeous. Oh my goodness, you are giving me the impatient urge to get out into the garden but there will be no such doing in my parts for another 4 to 6 weeks. Last fall I planted a variety of bulbs and simply can’t wait to see them blossom. As for clematis, I bought a small plant our first spring here (12 years ago) and it did nothing, however was still alive. Over the years I have transplanted it to a few different spots and had awesome success with its third and final home in the garden. I’m sure you’ve probably read that they need cool roots and sun on the growth, so I found a spot beside a rosebush that offers plenty of shade where it is planted but allows the growth to flow up into the sun coming from the south in the afternoon and full on from the west into the evening. Must have had a thousand flowers for the past 3 summers. But it was a challenge finding just the right spot for it.

    I could go on forever on the subject of your exciting garden!

    1. I have many a wall uglier and prettier – it’s not the nicest! It’s a little grotty to be fair. I’ll take your advice about moving the clematis – makes so much sense. Glad it’s not just me who finds them fussy!

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