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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Weeds! (a veg patch update)

I knew I'd come home to weeds but was surprised, given that there was only one night of rain totalling 6mm whilst we were away, that everything had grown so much and that all the seeds that I'd sown had germinated. Since coming back there has been far more rain which is a good thing for the garden. I do have so far, potatoes (three varieties), parsnips, shallots, onions, leek and spring onion seedlings and two sowings of various varieties of lettuce.

Somewhere in here are parsnips, shallots and onions!

The after shot after much hand weeding

Many of my weeds are edible: in this mess are magenta orach which is edible, borage, dill, a potato (they haven't been grown in this plot for 4 years so how one still got through I don't know!) and a 'Red Salad Bowl' lettuce....

Can you spot the rogue potato and the self-seeded lettuce?

I found another self seeded lettuce beside my onions
so I had to remove some leaves as the poor onion is a bit stunted!

I have about 5 varieties of lettuce coming up
which we are eating the thinnings of along with the orach

Finally got to weeding my five strawberry beds! Had started spreading straw around and thought there was no rush until I noticed a few already starting to turn red, so fast work has been done over the last two days to get the rest of the straw down and netting over before the birds start helping themselves. I ate that strawberry yesterday and delicious it was too. Actually I ate half, and I'm so nice I gave the other half to my OH. Is that love or what? :-)

Several pollinators doing their job although I'm not sure
if the micromoth was pollinating or just sitting there!

Spuds. The before and after, all nicely hoed and earthed up now.
Just need to watch out for blight and colorado beetle.

Year 2 of my original Wildflowers for Pollinators Meadow. There was one plant which dominated which has grown enormous and burst into flower whilst I was away. I didn't know the plant but was pretty sure it was part of the Brassica family and after a bit of a google managed to ID it as Hesperis matronalis, very pretty and slightly scented, and a hit with the butterflies as well as some bees. There is also Phacelia flowering here now which self seeded from last year's plants during the mild winter and is much loved by the bumble bees.

Butterflies enjoying the Hesperis matronalis - left an Orange Tip
and right I think it's a male Small White but the markings are
not as apparent as normal.

All sorts of bumble bees and solitary bees are enjoying
the flowers on the purple curly kale, which I always leave
to flower especially for them.

Due to a reasonably mild winter some borage and calendula managed to survive so I'm very pleased that they are already flowering. The larger green plant is a flat leafed parsley (I have two here) which I'm leaving to go to seed as I hope the pollinators will enjoy the flowers. Lilac flowering in the background and as usual my ugly propane tank gets in the picture!

The unweedy patch is where I sowed annual seeds for pollinators
which I collected from last year's wildflowers for pollinators meadow.
My pegs indicate where I sowed diagonal lines so I can find the actual
seeds and hoe off the weeds in between!
The rest of the green stuff is just weeds which need hoeing.

Blackcurrants loaded with flowers and fruit as usual.
Currants are a very reliable fruit crop!

Raspberries are flowering away and the thornless cultivated blackberries are looking good but as for the poor young gooseberries, although I checked them a few days ago and they seemed fine, yesterday I found them already with a number of leaves munched by Gooseberry Sawfly larvae which have been squished, so I'll have to be very vigilant!

Overall I'm pleased with my progress in tidying up as I've been working at half my normal energy levels due to having a cold; however one thing I've found is that I feel so much better being out in the fresh air than indoors!

I have now to get to a garden centre to buy my tomatoes and some other veg which is a bit late to start sowing now, such as French haricot beans, courgettes, cucumber and squash/pumpkins, not to mention the bog standard ivy leafed geraniums for my tubs and planters. Just hope there are some left which are not dried out leggy specimens.... but really it's just been too cold here to put those tender plants out anyway, so wasn't worth rushing to get any. With going away when we did, I felt the easiest way was to cheat and buy ready grown young plants. That's also why I have no peas or broad beans this year and even more space being used for wildflower meadows. But they keep me amused and my pollinating friends will be happy!


  1. So glad to discover that someone else lets Kale grow for its flowers. :)

    1. How could I not?!! I have my plots organised that tomatoes and courgettes grow where the winter brassicas were, so there is plenty of time for the kale and PSB to flower before I need to plant out the summer veg. Although this year being late, they are going to co-incide a bit!

  2. The climate is so sweet where you live ! My strawberries are only in blossom now.
    When I was out of my home there was no rain but nos it is no more the same.
    (I've seen an Aurore butterfly on a monnaie du pape but I did not have my camera. It was where lives my daughter, close to Lyons)

    1. haha Cergie it is not always so mild during winter, and this spring is so behind normal! The strawberries are 'Gariguettes' which are very early ones. Some years I am harvesting them mid-May and making jam by now. I have just looked up Aurore and see that is the Orange Tip. They are so pretty :-)

  3. Always a joy to read your garden update, Mandy! Your images are beautiful, as always. I've been working on expanding my butterfly garden by adding some more native host plants. I'm most excited about finally finding some Aristolochia watsonii which is food for Pipevine Swallowtail which come to nectar in my yard every year.

    1. Thanks Marianne! I've just looked up that plant and butterfly and see that the caterpillar is incredible looking - hope you get some eggs laid in your yard. The butterfly is a beauty too. Saw the first (Old World) Swallowtail here a few days ago which is always exciting.

      Still waiting for my last remaining Swallowtail chrysalis to eclose, which is now in the kitchen. I think the others were eaten by birds as I had to free them whilst I was away and only one chrysalis remained upon my return. Fingers crossed!