Monday, 6 April 2015

Roots and rubble

The rubble garden
It was supposed to be so easy. We had the weed-infested rock garden under black plastic for almost a year. All we needed to do was lift the plastic, give it a quick dig over and remove the weed roots and then plant the 270 heather plants that were delivered last week.

Some of the Scottish heather selection
Alas, it was not to be. The 'rock garden' turned out to be a rubble garden, containing the remains of an old extension, complete with asbestos roof panels, and an inconveniently located drain pipe. In among the rubble are thousands of ground elder roots, the most I've ever seen and they don't seem to be dead after their year under plastic, either.

More rubble with every dig
Only the chickens are happy - what a fantastic new foraging area. Just full of snacks.

Hard-working hens
So the three-day job looks like it will be a two-week job. Major remodelling of the rock garden slope will have to be done, with a stone wall of sorts at the top. A good use for all the nice stones that we've found around the garden, but hard work to carry them all up. Who needs a gym when you've got a garden.

Still to be dug, what surprises will we find?
The heathers at least are looking fantastic and as soon as we unpacked them the bumblebees moved in. It's a huge variety, flowering at different times of the year, with different colours of flower and leaves: white, golden, pink, purple. Should look wonderful when they're all in place and be super hardy, which they need to be in that exposed spot. We just need to keep the hens out so that the heathers can establish themselves and not be scratched to death.

Meanwhile, the conservatory is filling up rapidly:

The sowing table is full
New this year: tomatillos
Plenty o peppers
Tomatillos, tomatoes and lemon verbena
Outside in the veg garden, I have the peas and pak choi seedlings under mini tunnels. The tunnels did suffer a bit in the recent spate of gales. I had to weigh the plastic down with paving slabs in the end, but I don't foresee it surviving very long. Still, the hoops will be very useful for netting over the brassicas and peas. 

I also sowed salad crops and carrots under the cloches and then, after discovering that parsnip seeds are only good for a year (and the first sowing not showing any signs of life), I went all out and sowed all of my remaining parsnip seeds in three rows. So it's either going to be feast or famine. If it's a feast, then we'll make lots of parsnip wine.

Some comfrey cuttings have been potted up as well. Since we have decimated our nettle stocks, comfrey will be our future source of fertiliser.

Hopefully the last of the spring gales
I've sown so much that I've run out of little pots. But there will be 270 more when the heathers get planted. The squash sowing might have to wait until then.

In the rest of the garden, we planted a blackberry 'Triple Crown' and two goji berries this week and a couple of goat willows to improve the drainage. I keep saying to Jim that this will be the last of the planting, honest.


  1. Do you really mean that some of the heathers are flowering already NOW?

    1. Yes, about a quarter of them are flowering right now. I hadn't seen any bumblebees in the garden this year, but as soon as the heathers were out of the box they were there. Nice change from gorse flowers and daffodils for them.

    2. Oh no! These "easy" jobs never are, are they? I've been told by a neighbour there's a caravan under our garden, I haven't found it yet so I hope this is just a nasty rumour. The heathers look pretty though, and those are some smart chickens you have!

    3. No, I've yet to find a job that's easier than I thought. Looking forward to a week of office work to recover from this effort! I hope the caravan is just a rumour, why would anybody bury it rather than take it to the scrapyard or tip (she says after unearthing an outhouse)? The hens are all hybrids, but we find it a lot easier to keep track of them when they have different colours. And we want to start raising some chicks this summer so we went for genetic variety. The cockerel, of course, was free to a good home.