My most recent read was Alys Fowler's The Edible Garden which I picked up in Carrigaline library. I had taken my two year old out for an afternoon walk and when he unexpectedly fell asleep, I decided to park up in the library to relax and enjoy a read while he slept. I couldn't have chosen a more beautiful book for leafing through. Her garden is built on the premise of polyculture which is the mingling of plants for different purposes together, rather thank having, say, a vegetable plot and separate flower beds. It's something we hear of in companion planting tips - planting basil among the tomatoes to improve flavours, sweet peas with your brassicas to add nitrogen to the soil - but so far my efforts have manifested in tiny, awkwardly placed flowers at the edge of my vegetable beds. Looking at the photos in Alys's book, I realised that I have been doing it all wrong. Her sumptuous Birmingham garden is fabulously chaotic with fruit, flowers and vegetables of different colours, heights and textures intermingled with each other leaving virtually no uncovered ground.
So I've started trying to patch things together. I am slowly filling a patch of ground that was uncovered after we cleared a hugely overgrown bush and for the first time I am thinking about the overall aesthetic rather than the individual plant. In the background of the photo below you can see wallflowers on the left, Euyonomous in the middle and on the right what I think is Lonicera nitida or box honeysuckle. In the middle is purple sprouting broccoli and onions with pansies in the foreground. Hopefully when the plants fill out, and with more added, it will create a nice effect.
In other areas of the garden, I have dug a new bed by removing the top sod, digging the ground underneath and covering with the turned sod, so the grass side faces down. Over that I placed a layer of cardboard, which I have covered with loads of compost from the heap in the garden Finally, a layer of seaweed, which was washed up on a local beach after bad weather, has been spread over the top. Hopefully by the time the planting out season comes April/May, the bed will have good soil structure and be filled with nutrients. At the edge of the bed are Brussels sprouts, broccoli and broad beans:
This year I ordered my garlic from quickcrop.ie again, which I've found to be the best stockists for choice, quality and speed of delivery. I even got two extra heads of garlic in my order! I am trying Lautrec (hardneck variety), early Purple Wight and Iberian Wight I've planted my garlic in a raised bed but I've also put some in modules in a cold frame for planting out in the spring, as I've read that this can have good results. I'm hoping I've made a good choice as the hardneck and the early won't store too well. I plan on eating the early fresh so I can pick as needed, then using the hardneck and finally the Iberian, which I have planted more of as they will store well. The heads under cover have started to poke out:
In my front garden I am tidying up the old flowers. I've saved the seed from my Crocosmia Lucifer, for planting later:
My rose bush has flowered for the second time this year, the first time it has ever flowered twice, but with the Autumn winds, the flower fell apart quickly after blooming. Not to waste them, I gathered them up and placed in a jar of water. It looks very pretty on my kitchen window sill and smells gorgeous.
That's about the main news from my garden. My next big job is to attack an overgrown raised bed frame so I can move it out from the wall to the middle of the garden making it easier to maintain as I will be able to access all four sides and won't have to deal with thick coarse grass growing up between the fence and the wooden frame. It's a lovely big frame and I can't wait to put it to use.