Allotment stuff, new season.

It being neither freezing nor raining I just spent a few hours weeding on my allotment. My plot is very weedy and I was reflecting on that unpalatable fact while I worked.

Apart from brassicas and roots, I don’t have much on the plot at this time of year, so there is a lot of bare ground. I mulched¬†it all with compost in autumn, which affords some protection; I see the weeds as adding a little more to that as well as hanging on to soluble nitrate that would otherwise be leached by rain.

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Epilobium, nettles, annual meadow grass and dandelion.

 

I’m weeding now because I don’t want them to seed and I will be wanting to sow and plant quite soon. The weeds are a mixture, almost all growing from seed. Bittercress has probably seeded from plants on the plot. They flower and set seed all year and start flowering when very small. Epilobium has more likely blown in from the margins and the neighbouring plot.

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Mouse ear chickweed, speedwell, chickweed and hairy bitter cress.

 

Some of it has come in with grass mowings of lawns that have seeding weeds in or adjacent to them. There are things that I have naturalised in my garden and have taken up there inadvertently. So there is Viola tricolor, Aquilegia and Corydalis cheilanthifolia. Some I cannot account for at all. Does it matter? Not much. I am retired, I have time to weed them out. They come out easily enough from my no dig beds; less easily from the paths. They go on the heap and will be back in the autumn as top dressing.

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Before and after.

 

It would be nice if you could slice the tops off and leave the roots in the ground, but it’s easier said than done. Satisfying when done, except for the aching back!

It often strikes me as odd that gardening movements like organics or no dig, purporting to take their inspiration from nature, do things quite differently from nature. Not that nature grows vegetables exactly. Non woody growth in a temperate climate would die down in situ and lie on the surface over the winter. It doesn’t get removed elsewhere to be partially decomposed before being brought back. Any bare patches would quickly be filled by vegetation of some sort. I have put quite a lot of fresh material, usually shredded, directly onto the ground in autumn in the belief that there is a component of the soil fauna and flora that has evolved to live on that type of material. It certainly disappears quickly enough.

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Rhubarb’s doing well, bloody moles and Corydalis cheilanthifolia.

 

I sowed beetroot 17 June last year, planted them out 12 August. I thought they would grow to usable size then stand well into the winter. They didn’t grow enough and haven’t grown at all in the winter. Need to get them in earlier. Ditto chard and perpetual spinach. The idea was that they would go in after peas and spuds were finished, but it didn’t really work. Must do better this year. I need more salad veg for winter salads. Perhaps I should invest in some cloches.

End of month view – January 2017

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The weather forecast had promised a bit of brightness but I gave up waiting and took a few dull shots. It was raining soon after, and still is.

The garden is down to its bare bones at this time of year and a comparison with the picture I took a year ago shows very few changes. Almost too few, few enough to get me asking myself if it has become too static. A couple of sizeable woody plants have gone, I really don’t miss them; which suggests I’d have to get brutal to make an obvious difference.

As usual, the dead leaves of Hakonechloa are the brightest thing in the garden. I’ve cut down most of them, they’d been fairly well trashed by the cats jumping in them. Other than that it’s down to the evergreens. Pittosporum ‘Elizabeth’ on the right is so good we’ve planted another. The tree at the left is Ligustrum ‘Excelsum Superbum’, which looks really good all winter then tatty in spring until it has grown new leaves.

I wired the fastigiated yew in this year as it was losing its shape. It’s about 14 feet tall now, which is not a good height to be trying to get a loop of wire around it. Looks better for it though and the narrower I can keep it the longer it can stay. The other conifer is the ironically named Lawson cypress ‘Little Spire’.

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Looking back the other way it is clear that my Schefflera taiwaniana is going to make taking this shot from the same place impossible in a couple of years. The deciduous tree just right of centre is Magnolia Heaven Scent, below it Camellia ‘Bob Hope’. The prominent grass is Chionochloa rubra.

On a smaller scale I have snowdrops flowering. I like snowdrops could never become a fanatic. Mine are doubles, I don’t know their name. If I didn’t keep inadvertently digging them up they’d be doing rather better. I have some nice Cyclamen coums still in pots and needing planting. The two double Hellebores I bought last year are back, which is good, and not entirely healthy looking, which is bad.

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Looking slightly battered, such that most of its flower display is on the ground, is my Camellia ‘Minato-no-akebono’. I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Camellias; unhealthy because there are an awful lot of them, they grow large and I have a pretty small garden. It does force a high level of selectivity on me though and Minato is a very pretty single with lovely scent. I don’t mean the somewhat heavy oily scent of the sasanquas, this is a light and fresh true perfume. When it has finished flowering the new growth will be bright red for a couple of months. It’s a cracker.

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As ever, my motivation to put finger to keyboard is to be part of the Patient Gardener’s end of month meme¬†where there will be links to other participants.