The day dawned wet and not sunny as the forecast had been, so I cheered up the day by spending a few hours cooking up a big batch of my version of a Moroccan spiced vegetable dish (which I have printed on a separate blog page). It is so nice in the winter to be able to just go to the freezer and pull out a precooked meal, and the beauty of a basic sauce is that you can add extra ingredients and it tastes totally different every time.
Whilst that was cooking I got Patrick on veggie duty and he peeled the surplus of parsnips and carrots thinnings which I sliced up and blanched and froze. My freezer is getting well stocked for the winter and it is very rewarding lifting the lid and seeing labelled carrier bags full to the brim with portion sized bags of every vegetable and fruit that I have grown.
There was a glimpse of sun just after lunch so I needed no further invitation to don my old gardening clothes and head off to my allotment with a big bucket of all the veggie peelings for the compost bins. I was there just a few minutes and it rained, but not heavily enough to deter me.
I loaded up the wheel barrow with everything I would need as I intended to work down the bottom end. I spread the peelings between the three plastic compost bins and noticed worms right at the top of the bins in the horse manure that I use in layers to encourage the vegetation to rot down quicker.
As usual I was all alone, and in the distance on the track I saw a rabbit hopping about, so I made sure to pull across my sheet of corrugated iron that serves as a gate to my main vegetable growing area. As it was so quiet and peaceful I did not want the rabbits sneaking in amongst the remainder of my vegetables and being closed in to feast on my crops!
My first task was to pollard the willow tree that I grew from a small stick that I used initially to peg down a strip of membrane.18 months later it has grown to 15 feet!
I cut off all the branches leaving the main stem intact to re-grow. I used these to secure the low chicken wire fence that is a boundary marking between my plot and the those next to me that are not being worked at the moment. The rabbits are burrowing under the fence and it is looking like the M25 with all the rabbit traffic lanes, so I thought that I would make a living fence and secure the chicken wire at the same time. I spaced the branches out and pushed them into the ground anchoring the fence. The tops I interwove like a willow hand rail. It looks a bit puny at the moment, but next year, with a bit of luck, the cuttings will have rooted deterring the rabbits as they scrape under the wire, the stems would have sprouted branches which will be interwoven to make a living and solid fence which I can pollard to any height I want. This area is where I am just starting to develop as a garden in which to relax, so the willow fence, will provide a windbreak and a natural barrier. I made a willow arch in my garden a couple of years ago, and it has taken root, and thickened up and withstands everything the weather throws at it, including winds that tear down fences and tree branches.
I weeded another of my wide flower beds and the difference it made was remarkable, the weeds grew so quickly after the rain. The tiny cardoon seedling I planted in July is beginning to look really sculptural, next year it will grow to six feet tall, with beautiful flowers. The silver foliage shows up wonderfully against the sedum now turning pink, and the deep red persicaras that have silver markings on them. The blue green spikes on the flag iris cuttings complement the spiky leaves of the cardoon which make a lovely tapestry of textures an colour in the sunshine. At the end of the same bed, are lavendars in different shades of blue still flowering and the lush feathery foliage of asparagas.
At a time when the allotments are starting to look tatty with dying leaves and weeks appearing, it is nice to have an area of beauty as a contrast.