The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Friday, March 25, 2011

Mini Orchard Completed

There has been much activity on the good weather days in the garden. And some on the not quite so good weather days.

The pear trees, gage and everything else I had ordered from J. Parkers arrived as a single delivery a week ago.

So straight on with the planting of the trees. And then trying to work out what pruning, if any, was needed. The conference pear had quite a few branches that I cut back. The Beth pear only had three branches above 18 inches and the Concorde a mere one...

The gage has been installed on the last remaining cane against the wall/railings.

So that completes the trees in the fruit tree bed - assuming they all survive! Still got space for some fruit bushes - I have planted two redcurrants that were cuttings from last year that had rooted. I have some rooted blackcurrant cuttings also in a pot but they will eventually go against the wall on the other side if they survive that long.

So far the only springing into obvious life is from the cherry tree.

I then quickly planted up the plug plant gentians which looked very healthy and monardas which didn't. I keep inspecting them to see if I can see any improvement - I will be lucky to get 4 out of 6 I reckon.

The next day was cold but I needed to plant the dicentras, paeonies and day lilies in the LBE.

However, the weather has improved this week and even Paul has been helping with removal of some of the dead shrubs and playing with bonfires to dispose of them. Two brooms out of the long bank and another small shrub from the high bank.

This then afforded a great opportunity with easy access to get him to cut the buddleia back there down to a stump.

Which in turn gave me the opportunity to relocate an acer from a winter broken pot...

I have done my annual snowdrop transplantation, adding small clumps to the trellis bed bank and the next couple of sections of the LBE.

The trellis bed itself has been tidied up.

Onion sets have been planted in the veggie patch.

The gooseberry bushes have been pruned - I am covered in little scratches now.

I have started on the high bank tidy up - autumn debris removal, nettle and bramble control. It really does get slightly better each year which is just as well as I get achier each year :)

I severely pruned back a couple of spiraeas and made one trip to almost the top to remove an enormous section of an unknown shrubby tree that had split under the weight of snow in the winter. There is a dead looking berberis up there which needs tackling. I am contemplating a total revamp of the middle section, which is still more or less the same as when we moved up here. Apart from three very nice paeonies the plants are not really to my liking. Hacking back the spiraea in the middle has opened it up and I think I may remove it permanently...

The garden is starting to get very colourful. Spring heathers, crocuses, daffodils, tulips, primroses... But my pick of the lot has got to be the hepatica, unfortunately now beginning to fade but I captured it at its peak...

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Pear Trees Cometh

So why did I say I was ahead of last year???

It was a cue for winter to return.

The only thing actually done in the garden was the planting of a Victoria plum (again from Morrison's) as a cordon on one of the remaining canes.

Still, the knitting is progressing. Front, back and first sleeve completed, and second sleeve well underway.

Word study also plodding along. Should hit the 30000 mark on 8s this week. More motivated now that the WSC has been confirmed (Warsaw in October) and Michael Tang's exciting announcement w.r.t. his expansion of the Causeway scrabble tourneys.

I have now ordered the four remaining fruit trees I wanted from J. Parker. An Imperial gage for the last cane and three pear trees (Beth, Concorde and Conference).

I am planning to grow the pears as dwarf pyramids - they are on Quince C 'dwarfing' rootstocks. So I have wasted a hell of a lot of time looking on the web for reasonably priced 2.4m tree stakes. And failing dismally - they are either cheap and the postage extortionate or expensive to start with. I really don't want to pay more for the stakes than the trees cost!

I have finally decided to improvise. I will get shorter stakes (1.2m) from Cheviot trees this afternoon and make my own taller stakes from binding three 8 foot bamboo canes together and hopefully attach them behind the tree stake.

It is getting a little late for planting pear trees, but as J Parker have taken the money, which they normally only do as the plants are dispatched, they are hopefully making their way here as I type.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

All Systems Go

The apple trees (aka big sticks) eventually arrived. We had been phoned on the Friday to say they had just been dispatched and would be here on Monday. I was a little peeved as they had missed the good weather window. Luckily we did not have a hard frost and the ground was not frozen so in the morning I went out and dug 10 holes ready for planting. They arrived in the afternoon. I needed Paul's help to hold them at the angle of the canes while I refilled the holes and tied them loosely in place. Once in I tied them to the canes more securely and after checking my bible lightly tip pruned them to a suitable bud. Last job was to get the chicken wire in place to protect them from Jen and Poncho. This will have to be done better in the future as it is not rabbit proof...

I have a good selection with a long cropping season of August right through to the end of the year, and some storing in to the next spring:
Keswick Codlin - dual purpose
Belle de Boskoop - cooker
Saturn - dessert
King of the Pippins - dual purpose
Katy - dessert
Scotch Bridget - cooker
James Grieve - dual purpose
Suntan - dessert
Laxton Superb - dessert
Ellison's Orange - dessert

However, it will be 2013 before we should get any as my bible says to remove the blossom in the first couple of years to let the trees put their energy into growth...

I started weeding the LBE on Thursday. This hadn't been planned but on taking the dogs out at lunch time I had stopped to pick out a couple of weeds. And then I handed Jen over to Paul and just kept going. An hour and a half later and it looked a lot better.

I can now see more and more wild baby primroses coming through - the fruit of my labour last year in transplanting clumps from the rockery area. The pansies also seem to have spread their seed far and wide.

Yesterday was veggie patch day.

All the dead runner beans were unwrapped from the wigwams and obelisks and pulled out. Beds were weeded and forked over.

Cabbages were assessed and I now have one that is pickable, four that look as if they are attempting to form new heads and the rest were pulled out. Any greenery on them was bagged up and given to Margaret to feed to her geese. The curly kale looks as if it is re-sprouting - I have left it in but am not sure whether it is worthwhile.

I still need to hand weed that bed and around my disappointing leeks. Some look as if they may be worth picking, but the vast majority don't look much bigger than when I planted them.

The nettles are doing better :(

On the bright side, all three clumps of rhubarb are coming through strongly...

And I made a start on clearing the leaves and debris from the raised planters.

I still have a lot of last year's carrots unharvested and it looks as if a lot have survived the winter. They are pushing themselves out of the soil. I pulled one up and it tasted absolutely fine.

It may also be worth my time harvesting some of the larger onions that overwintered. And plant the Red Baron onion sets I bought a couple of weeks ago.

And my requested cow muck from Margaret has just been delivered - perfect timing...

I am ahead of last year , and this March I do not need to spend 30+ hours sifting topsoil and loading the fruit tree bed. I just hope the weather keeps behaving itself.

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