We are at the end of summer, heading in to autumn and it feels a bit in-between-ish in the garden today. Too early to harvest my perennial root vegetables, too soon to do much tidying up (not that I ever do a lot of that), but a lovely mellow feeling nonetheless.
I had a couple of hours to spare, which is rare, and went in to the garden to see what needed doing. I spent some time picking my way carefully along a couple of beds cutting back and taking out plants no longer needed. In the gaps that were created I sowed various seeds to tide the garden over until next spring – field beans, forage peas and a green manure mix including clover, rye grass and mustard.
Because many of my plants are perennial and those that are not are always left in while they have a function to perform I never clear a bed or border in the traditional manner of gardeners. This means that to some extent I am always picking my way carefully between plants doing the minimum of intervention. The down side of this is that it can be seen as being a bit fiddly, but today I decided to think of it as treating the garden with kindness and care.
As an example here are some photos from the border that has been home to what I called the ‘fennel and carrot forest’ this summer. As well as the aforementioned I grew earth nut pea (lathyrus tuberosus) and I am collecting seed as it matures which is entwined with the carrot and fennel plants.
I carefully (and kindly) cut out the seed heads I wanted leaving the carrot and fennel plants in tact for the time being with the earth nut peas scrambling up them.
Elsewhere I cut the carrot plants down to ground level as they have flowered and I am not saving their seed this year. The fennel is still in place as the seeds are maturing and feeding a flock of blue tits in the mornings as well. This is what it looks like on the ground.
This is my new(ish) garden, nearly two years old. It has a long way to go to improve the soil. At the moment this is clay, with lots of stones and not much life. Hence the grey colour and the brown coloured carrot flower heads that I cut off months ago visible below today’s pile of stems. There is as yet little soil life to decompose the material I am laying on the surface but it will come in time.
By contrast the bed with most of my perennial vegetables in is constructed largely of organic material and it is bursting with life.