I did some ‘work’ in the garden today. Not counting minor interventions like taking off dock leaves and flowering stems it was the first time I had done anything since pruning the fruit trees and removing the flowering stems from lots of salsify plants in the height of summer.
It is bulb planting time and I had bought some narcissi and grape hyacinth for spring colour to go in the bed with the step over fruit trees. Wherever I could find a space I put a mixture of the flowering bulbs, garlic bulbs and some saved vetch seeds in all together. I hope that they will come up in a clump with the spring bulbs first and then the garlic and vetch growing on through the summer.
From the outset I have put other plants in with the apples. This was one of the little fruit trees just after planting in April, with a Japanese stauntonia to the left and aubretia and catmint either side.
Soon after that I put sweet peas along the row which bloomed beautifully all summer long, although I didn’t get the flowers in this picture! Later on I split up chives and put them in as well.
Those apples have ripened well and the herbs beneath have continued to flourish but are not yet ready to be picked.
I also had some tree onions saved from the plants in one of the polyculture beds to plant.
The bulbils formed at the top can be removed and replanted and I have put them in various places, some close to the original patch and some a bit further away. In each case I have tried to find a similar place with deep soil and a sunny position.
I planted some at the highest point of this raised bed, close to the original plants. The planting site has been mulched with grass cuttings through the summer. After planting the bulbils I then put some marjoram stalks taken from adjacent plants on top. (I had removed the stalks to make room for other bulbils to be planted between the sprawling marjoram plants.)
And atop the marjoram stalks I placed seed heads from honesty plants that have been forming since the spring. In the spring when a whole patch of tiny honesty plants came up en masse it occurred to me that I could use these seed heads to sow as a green manure and also as an indicator of where I have planted something else that my not yet be visible. So the idea is that the honesty will drop its seeds which will then germinate and show me where the tree onions are before they show up. Some of the honesty plants will grow to a good size but most won’t make it. Those that survive can grow alongside the onions and then the following spring they will flower and the cycle will start again.
Having done all the ‘work’ I needed to do I spent some time looking around the garden. I was pleased to see that the kales which had been eaten back to bare stems by the cabbage white caterpillars in August have now started to recover well.
I know that now is the time when many gardeners are tidying up, but I won’t be doing that. There is still so much life and vitality in the garden. Insects are enjoying the late flowers and the oca, Jerusalem artichoke and other root crops are still growing nicely. Nasturtiums are almost flowing across the polyculture, so vigorous are they! The kales are harvestable again – we ate from two other plants the last two days and the lamb’s lettuce and land cress are growing back from seed.
And to make things as good as they can get the weather has been warm and pleasant and we have been able to sit out and enjoy a cuppa and the autumn air.