Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Chimney Soot, Flowers and Vegetables

I learned from the TV programme The Victorian Farm that coal soot was put on roses to prevent blackspot, so I thought I'd give it a try.  This morning I carefully brushed some soot from my chimney and sprinkled it on the ground.  It does make sense - I remember my grandfather complaining when I was a child that roses were not doing as well now fewer people were using coal - the sulphur apparently dealt with fungal diseases well.  I'll let you know the result - hope to have good pictures of flowers in June.

On to the flowers - pink columbine (aquilegia).  Round here these self-seed, I have mostly blue but also this pretty pale pink one.  I also discovered a new dark pink one which wasn't there last year!  
The woodruff is now in full bloom, with columbines growing through it in places. I don't think it's ever been as good as this.  I planted it because the soil here is very poor, getting all the afternoon sun in the summer and the plant helps to prevent evaporation from the soil.
On to the vegetables now - the runner beans (below) and courgettes were putting roots out of their coir pots so I decided to get them in.  The courgettes are under a cloche as they need a bit more heat to get going, but the runner beans (white emergo)  have plenty of time so I've left them without protection.  I have built two wigwams out of (domestically grown) willow and added a liberal amount of horse manure to the soil to help them along.  We get free horse manure at the allotment (unlike our MPs who seem to spend a lot of our money on it!) - apparently it is pretty much impossible for local farmers/stables to sell it due to new regulations so every so often a new, steaming pile is dumped by the gate.  It's good stuff, once rotted down for a year.

I also sowed some coriander today, from seed I saved from last year's crop - here's the bundle I hung up to dry in the house.  You can just see the courgettes in the cloche behind it.
The lettuce is huge now and I decided to remove the cloche today, so they get watered naturally tomorrow.  This is called Salad Bowl, and is a regular picking variety.
The Worcester Pearmain apple tree is in full flower now:
And finally, here is a close up of the whinberries which are flowering.  Also known as bilberries, they are the native British blueberry equivalent.  There are a lot of them on the moors round here, and I do go picking them in the summer.  The flowers are very unobtrusive, but pretty when you look at them close up.
We have rain forecast for the next couple of days, so I got the organic slug pellets out and did my best to protect the runner beans, courgettes and lettuce from the coming onslaught.  I just hope the toads and frogs will be equally active!

Posting may be sparse for the next couple of days due to the rain, sorry!  I have to say that after my great gardening/walking spree over the last few days I'm looking forward to having a couple of days off - I'm knackered...
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