Keeping Busy

I used to paint. Pictures. Not rooms. I used to love it. I’d use acrylics or oil pastels. I tried oil paints but was never really won over to them. It’s been a while since I have painted anything. I keep threatening to get started on something again but it never seems to happen. But I love looking at paintings. I love visiting art galleries. Doesn’t matter if they are big or small, I love nothing more than wandering around, standing and looking, sitting and pondering, generally mooching around from room to room until my feet hurt and I have to retire to the coffee shop or the gift shop to eye up notebooks – but that’s another blog post. I have a bit of a grá for Claude Monet. Have you seen his landscapes? With the flowers growing all through the grass? That’s what I want in my orchard – a Claude Monet painting. Not asking for much am I?

is it too much of a stretch to call this meadow a lawn? (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
is it too much of a stretch to call this meadow a lawn?
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

I recently attended a garden talk where the speaker was discussing naturalising flower bulbs in the grass. His top tip? Plant early varieties so that they have flowered by the time the grass needs cutting again. Now, he was talking about planting in a lawn. I don’t think he quite envisioned the …. let’s use the word ‘meadow’ …. that is my orchard. But I’m going to give it a shot (as soon as I have saved up enough to buy bulbs or blagged some off of a friend). I just have to decide what flowers to go for.

my first ever autumn crocus (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
my first ever autumn crocus
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Crocuses and snowdrops are so small that I worry they would never be seen. Although I have found a neighbour with clumps of snowdrops in her lawn who will let me dig some up next year. I’ll bake her a cake to say thanks for letting me dig up her lawn. I could try autumn crocuses – which I already have one bulb gifted from this same neighbour. She is going to dread seeing me coming.

Actually grape hyacinths would probably suffer from the same problem unless we strim the grass good and low early in the year. How amazing would drifts of blue be?!?! I have small patches of bluebells on the ditch beside our lane and they are beautiful but so slow to spread and would definitely be drowned out in the orchard.

Fritillarias (I am slightly obsessed with meleagris), anemones (blanda), summer snowflakes and tulips (sylvestris with the nodding heads) all like moist soil which we have. Some nice contenders but will cost money so might have to park this project and find other jobs to keep me occupied. Nice easy jobs only please. It feels good being able to tick stuff off the list and know there’s some progress happening.

my living salad bowl (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
my living salad bowl
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Sow more salad leaves – my rainbow chard is doing well in pots outside the kitchen so I’ll try and stagger the planting. I’ve also got some old packets of pakchoi, winter purslane, corn salad, endive and brun d’hiver. Some have sprouted and the wildlife got to them. Some haven’t sprouted at all. Will try some more. In pots outside and in the ground in the tunnel.

Pot up daffodil bulbs – I was gifted some daffodil bulbs but have no idea what kind they are so think I’ll pot them up this year until I know more and decide where to plant or if to give them away.

Plant garlic – We have tried planting before without any success. This time I’m determined it work. I’ve done a bit more research and feeling more confident. Would be great to say I’m using our own garlic when cooking instead of garlic imported from China which is all I seem to find in the shops these days.

my sweet pea tower on the verge of collapse (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
my sweet pea tower on the verge of collapse
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Sow hardy annuals – I loved my sweet pea tower this year and want to plant more next year. Everywhere. I do have one perennial sweet pea which is beautiful but unscented. Maybe a mix of the two? If I sow sweet pea seeds now, I should get earlier flowers next year which would make a nice change as I’m usually playing catch up. I also have a few packets of cornflowers and think I might use these to fill up the two raised beds over the winter and get some early colour.

cabbages ravaged by the last of the caterpillars (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
cabbages ravaged by the last of the caterpillars
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Harvest remaining cabbages – I’ll give the outer leaves riddled with the last of the caterpillars to the hens for a treat. I’m going to experiment and leave the root in the ground but cutting across the stem when I harvest. The hope is to encourage a late growth of smaller leaves. I plan to fry them up in stirfries or mix them up with potato cakes.

Harvest apples and pears – Self explanatory really. Roll on stewed apple and custard, crumbles and tarts galore.

Rescue rhubarb – The poor, poor rhubarb is drowning in the weeds. While I can still see it, I want to free up around it and put down some good mulching. A bit of TLC is definitely called for.

a thing of beauty surely? (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
a thing of beauty surely?
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Compost – Mr. Fairweather built me two compost bins from scrap pallets. I have one half filled already but it desperately needs some attention. A bit of turning and inspection required. Don’t want the rats taking up residence.

Plan fruit area – This requires a bit of self restraint. I keep seeing blueberry plants for sale and am in love with the notion. But as my raspberries are steadily taking over the place I need to think this through.

Sow broad beans and peas for early crop. This is a simple enough job and will make me feel super organised until I realise I have nowhere to plant them out into. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

some raw materials for my wildlife stack (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
some raw materials for my wildlife stack
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

Wildlife stack – New tactic. One big project a month. Loving this one and even started gathering raw materials already. Can’t wait to see it fill up.

Clean polytunnel – I have been putting this off for months. Maybe this month the polytunnel will get lucky!

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