Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘compost’


Due to some recent tree-felling activities we had quite a lot of pine needles lying about on the lawn, and after we’d distributed a fair amount in the woodland area and around various acid-loving shrubs there was still a ton of it left, so when I aired the option of creating a specific compost heap from it to rot down over the next 3-4 years and create some lovely acidic compost – as an environmentally sound alternative to peat moss spaghnum – the Flâneur Husband jumped on the idea and instantly started looking around for stuff that could be turned into a compost container.

His eyes landed on the small fire wood box that used to be on the covered terrace – a three-sided contraption that used to be up against the house and held kindling dry – and to add a fourth side he re-purposed the back of an old bench where the seat had all but rotted through.

Flâneur Husband with Hammer

The design of it all obviously was a bit “make-do” in style, but it looked decent enough to be placed in the furthest corner of the garden, especially once we started loading it up with pine needles.

Compost box

I think you’ll agree that once it was filled it actually looked like quite a respectable little compost:

Compost box

Pay special attention to the way the ornamental rose carving on the bench back was intentionally displayed, ensuring that – as far at compost containers go, this is quite a pretty little thing:

20130510-103904.jpg

However, within 5 minutes of admiring the finished result we ended up agreeing that it was too small, so it was ripped out and replaced with this much, MUCH larger container made of old fence sections:

Large compost container

Not as pretty, but VAST! It’ll be a mixed compost heap instead, probably shared with the neighbour – whose house can be seen in the picture above – and we will probably take years to fill it. Pretty? Not so much, but practical!

-So perhaps next time will remember to think about what we need before cobbling anything together? Then again, maybe not…

Read Full Post »


Yesterday I showed you my bag. Well, here’s what the contents look like unwrapped on the lawn:

The top three are the L.D Braithwaites from the nursery near my parents, and the two bunches below are New Dawn and Rhapsody in Blue from a more mainstream garden centre.

Now, the cheap roses DO look healthy and I’m sure they will be fine, but in the picture above you can see quite clearly on the right bunch that the roots have been cut, whereas the more expensive nursery roses have smaller roots, but they have not been cut.

Today I managed to plant the New Dawns and the L.D. Braithwaites. The New Dawns were a right pain to plant, since they will be growing up trees and obviosuly had to be planted at the foot of these two trees. Now, first of all I had to remove more of the lawn – which seems a recurring theme in my gardening career – and then I had to dig planting holes between the tangled roots of the trees… It was not simple!

For the L.D. Braithwaites the process was simpler, but perhaps no less arduous; they were destined for the Sunny Border, where I’d already stripped off the lawn, but clearly since these were expensive plants they deserved special attention, so I dug a 1½ft deep triangular hole, almost a square meter in area. Essentially this means I dug out the best part of a ton of dense soil and pure clay…

I then mixed the top soil with four barrows of compost, positioned the roses and finally filled the hole. My back was aching, my hands were chafed andI generally felt worn-out, but at least I had the lush, exuberant view of a rose patch to enjoy:

Oh, right; I have a couple of twigs sticking out of the bare soil… But there is promise in these little twigs, and I trust them to make my effort worth-while. Or at least not entirely in vain…

(Also, please note what an un-butch photographer I am… The shadow in the lower right-hand corner is of course me, my phone and a rather daintily curved pinky finger. But it’s dark outside now, so I can’t re-take the shot, and I definitely can’t be bothered to save this post and then publish it tomorrow when I have a non-pinky shot.)

Read Full Post »


So this weekend the Sunny Border was completed!

Flâneur Gardener digging away merrily

The last fiddly bit towards the covered terrace was finally cleared of turf, and a few perennials were rescued from in-between the grass. This was mainly my project, while my husband busied himself around the garden, cutting back the poplars towards one neighbour and the hazels towards another and lopping off a branch of the red-leaved cherry plum tree.

Then we installed that nasty-looking plastic barrier towards the lawn, and it turned out as invisible as I’d hoped for, so that was good, and finally I could start loosening the soil so we could add some compost (the birthday present my husband got from his mother).

Flâneur Husband shovelling compost

We also did a bit of tidying up, moving piles of branches out back and generally trying to make the place a bit more presentable, though it’s still too early in the season to mow the lawn. (And it desperately needs a haircut!)

The result

It’s just a clean slate right now, or almost, but I think it will end up looking great. I put back some perennial sweet peas and a geranium that had been struggling in the tall grass up against the wall, and then there’s a line of stepping stones before the larger part of the border where the roses and larger perennials will go. I put in a few clumps of iris from my mother’s garden, because I think they will look great in front of the roses what will eventually go in beside them, and at the far end I moved some Japanese anemones (also from my mother’s garden).

I do need to be careful not to cram it full of everything that will fit in there, because I suspect some plants may want to grow a little over the summer, but so far it definitely has great potential.

My husband keeps saying he doesn’t want it to look too twee, so his knee-jerk reaction when I talk about planning the planting and coordinating colours is that he’d prefer something much more random, but obviously I’m not letting him have his way here. The colours will be mainly blues, purples and reds, ranging from light to dark hues, and with a bit of luck I’ll be able to have flowers in the border from May/June to the first frost.

I’m really rather excited about this!

Next weekend the plan will be to start tackling the vegetable beds. They’re terribly overgrown, and one of the beds has been used as a depository for dried perennial stalks that need to be cut up and go in the compost bin. And perhaps put in an effort to do some weeding in the Ambitious Border…

Read Full Post »


Today I received a call that my husband’s compost – his birthday present from his mother – was delivered this morning, and of course this means I have a full weekend planned.

I have only gotten as far as outlining the Sunny Border – a project I’ve imagined ever since we took over custodianship of this garden – so I need to dig away the turf and fluff up the soil beneath, mixing in a good measure of compost.

The other day I bought something I don’t particularly like; a long piece of 8″ deep corrugated plastic to serve as a boundary between the Sunny Border and the lawn, simply so the grass won’t invade the new border the same way it has invaded the Ambitious Border. I might invest in more of this once I’ve weeded out all the grass in the Ambitious Border.

It’s not pretty, for sure, but since it will be fully buried in the ground I guess I can live with it. I would have preferred a more natural material, but buying the wood to make something similar would a) be too expensive and b) probably be worse for the environment in general, since that wood would have to be cut, transported etc. to get to the garden.

 

In other news the dogwood and forsythia branches that I forced in the apartment now have green leaves. The forsythia might have lost its yellow splendour, but the dogwood is getting ready to show off a few bunches of tiny white flowers. And both the dogwood and the forsythia are beginning to show signs of roots!!! NEW PLANTS!!!

If they survive long enough they will end up in the Hedgerow toward the road, screening our haven a bit more from the outside world. More blossoms in spring, more variegated leaves in summer, more red dogwood stems in winter.

 

I picked some sedum stems last autumn as part of a bouquet of flowers for the apartment, and as the rest of the flowers faded the sedums started creating roots in the vase. I threw the rest of the flowers away, cut down the sedums to a few inches, and all through the winter they’ve stayed alive in a glass of water on the kitchen table. Yesterday morning I decided that spring had arrived and that perhaps in a month there might be room in the garden for the remainder of a bunch of flowers, picked for their beauty and retained so that beauty might regenerate. So I potted up the small stems with their fragile roots and tiny leaves.

It was propagation by accident, but I kept them alive. I watered them, nursed them and loved them – willed them – alive. It’s the greatest feat of magic imaginable, isn’t it?

Read Full Post »


So what is this project that involves a transparent plastic box, you ask?

Well, it’s the dahlia flower bed, of course! I needed to find a solution for sowing them in the windows in the apartment and then being able to transport the seedlings up to the summer house and the garden – by public transport!

Miniature green houses cost a bundle, and as often as not they seem slightly flimsy and not really up for being transported by metro, train and bus, but these plastic storage boxes are cheap and sturdy, and they’re small (30 * 40 * 12 cm) enough that I can stack them in one of the large IKEA bags and schlep them up to the garden once the seedlings need to go into the ground. (And hopefully they’re JUST high enough that I can put the lids on when I need to transport them, even if I might have to gently bend the little plants if they grow too well…)

But of course growing the seedlings will have to wait for a while, since I can’t realistically plant them out for another 2-2½ months, so I will sow in April and then plant them out when it seems the weather has warmed up enough for the little darlings.

-And before I can plant them out, I also need to execute the other leg of this project; creating the bed they will end up in! It’s currently just a stretch of lawn, and though I’ve already started skimming off the sod the ground is also heavily compacted clay soil and will need to be worked quite a bit to become as I would like it.

-Which is where my husband’s birthday present from his mother comes in… His wish-lists tend to be somewhat unorthodox, and this year she had originally thought she’d buy him a load of firewood for the summer house, but when she called me and asked what I thought we had just ordered a load ourselves, so she jumped to another item on the wish list; soil…

Now, it’s great that she spoke to me about this before ordering anything, because we obviously don’t need soil as such; we’ve got plenty of that, but the issue is that it’s too clay-rich and heavy, so we just need to amend it. So on her behalf I ordered a ton (literally; 1000kg!!!) of fully mature coarse compost… My hope is that this will help make the ground more free-draining and generally lighter to work with and easier for plants to grow in. (And there should be plenty for the new bed as well as some for the Ambitious Border and the raised vegetable beds.)

I look forward to getting on with this project, but of course we will see how the weather behaves.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers