This weekend I have had an opportunity to get out into the Telford garden enjoying the golden autumn sunshine and doing some tidying up.
I have not had much time to spend in this garden over the summer and until yesterday had not actually done any work in it since May! My partner has been cutting the lawn and tidying up some shrub borders, but as far as the polyculture patches go, they have looked after themselves all summer. Of course by October they do start to look untidy and in need of some attention. In line with my avowed intention to keep work to a minimum I have so far spent three and a quarter hours tidying up. This has involved
- Cutting back raspberry canes.
- Pruning blackcurrant and jostaberry bushes (using the prunings as cuttings).
- Cutting back dead or dying flower spikes on toad flax, foxglove, mint, St John’s wort, wild marjoram and others.
- There has not been much “weeding” to do as the ground cover plants in place are generally okay to remain; for the most part these are a mix of seedling forget me nots, buckler leaf sorrel, herb Robert, creeping Jenny, violets.
- There are patches of nettles which I cut back and not all the grass was totally eradicated when I made the beds from upturned turves so that needed to be pulled out of quite a lot of nooks and crannies.
- In places a covering of speedwell had grown expansively across the ground and needed to be pulled back. Interestingly it had spread quite a long way from its roots and although there was a lot of plant material it came up in a few armfuls with no effort at all.
- The dead flower spikes were placed along the pathways I walk on across the patches. This keeps them clear of plants and eventually breaks down to join the soil. I use twiggy / shrubby material for this usually.
- The wild strawberries have grown much larger than they used to be and started to crowd other plants. I have been able to remove quite a few to take to the other garden along with Welsh onions and chives.
- I stuck sticks in the ground beside the bases of the oca and mashua plants as once the frost comes they quickly disappear and I may lose the place to dig for the tubers!
- I have been able to add seeds of fennel, quinoa, marjoram, calendula, phacelia, sweet cicely to my growing collection for next year.
In May 2011 I wrote about the way the soil has become almost “fluffy”, very soft and fine textured and how I was able to pull long deep rooted docks and dandelion plants out intact. Yesterday I was tugging at an angelica plant that has been enormous this year; it had set seed and the main stem had died and I was attempting to break it off. I was only pulling gently and the whole thing came up in my hand with a very long root indeed. I did not actually measure it but it must have been well over a foot long.
All in all it was a few hours spent very enjoyably! I continue to be very pleased with the way the garden gets along with next to no input from me. As the weather has been very mild so far the root vegetables are continuing to grow, the Jerusalem artichokes are even taller this year than ever before and crowned with sunny yellow flowers. I will not be harvesting the roots for a while and am keeping my fingers crossed that there is bounty below ground that matches the exuberant growth above it.