My life is currently dominated by boxes, bubblewrap, packing tape and paint brushes. I’m trying to get the upstairs decorated while MIL is in Arizona, since the ever flexible FIL is seemingly content to be moved around from room to room as I rearrange furniture and paint walls and woodwork. Its exhausting, but necessary, and it feels good to be making visible progress towards getting the house on the market. The casualty is gardening. With all this mild weather there is loads I could/should be doing outside, I would love to be outside, but instead I am inside snatching glimpses of autumn through the windows. I did rush out the other day to take some photos of the acer, since I realised it was beginning to look a little naked, weeping scarlet leaves on the ground.
The thing is, I get really grumpy when I don’t get a regular dose of gardening. Something TNG understands, so with his blessing I took some time out from the endless job list last week to get dirt under my fingernails again. The first task was to pot up the bulbs that were supposed to go in the ground but now can’t, either because the dahlias are still flowering and I refuse to dig them up before they are properly frosted, or because we are going to move so many plants around to make it look family-friendly. I like planting bulbs in pots, so much easier than digging in cold heavy clay! That done, I turned my attentition to my “plant nursery”.
I have something of a dirty little secret. I’m not very good at nurturing plants. I will happily lavish attention on seedlings in Spring and Autumn, and really enjoy pricking out and potting on. But once they are in their first proper pots, I have a dreadful tendency to start neglecting them. I move on to “more exciting things”. I’ve had loads of aquilegias, campanulas, monardas languishing in too-small pots for months now, and haven’t noticed or done anything about it. I’ve occasionally lifted up a pot and looked for white roots poking through the bottom and, not seeing any, have happily moved on to the next task. In theory I know that not all plants have nice obvious white roots, heaven knows I have planted and divided enough plants that don’t. So there is little excuse for the fact that it turns out that my campanulas were totally root-bound but have such fine brown roots I just didn’t notice. Note to self – tip a plant out of its pot every now and again, just to check. Anyway, all is now sorted, perennials potted on, herbs divided and replanted, all pots off the patio ready for the Great Autumn Pressure-washing Adventure. I call it an adventure in the hope that it will encourage me to get out and do it before I slip over and break something on the slimy surfaces…
On Friday I finally snatched a couple of hours to go up to the allotment, hoping to still be able to see the outline of the beds amongst the weeds and over grown grass. It wasn’t actually as bad as I had feared, and I managed to clear a small bed to sow broad beans, and pick a load of lovely “Trail of Tears” beans. I am going to leave the rest to mature and try drying them and using them in soups and casseroles. However, my main reason for vistiting was to harvest the first of my Jerusalem Artichokes. I was expecting maybe a dozen or so of those little knobbly things I am used to getting in veg boxes, and I thought I would have to dig quite deeply for them. I was wrong on both counts, the tubers seemed to have spread out more horozontally than vertically, sneaking under the strawbewrries which made life interesting. But the biggest surprise was the size and number from just one plant.
I don’t often bother to weight my harvests, but I was curious, so after scrubbing all the dirt off I put them on the kitchen scales – 1.4kg from just one plant! I was amazed, and some of them are enormous, compared to those I am used to seeing.
Some have been put aside for roasting, and I made soup with the rest.
It doesn’t look terribly appetising, I managed to forget to harvest any parsely, and a sprinkling of green leaves on top would cheer it up no end, but it tasted delicious – I added a little Garam Masala to complement the nuttiness of the roots. That, together with a large salad and crusty bread, will be the basis of lunch with gardening-Sil and BIL today. Then we will be wrestling with the irises in the pond to give them a new home before I dismantle the whole thing. Once I’ve finished painting.
I don’t like being away from the plot for weeks at a time, I always fear what will greet me when I get back up there, but this time I did at least see some signs that I might get a (small) sprout harvest after all. The lovely purple ‘Red Delicious’ is stuttering into stunted life…
…it won’t exactly be a feast, but it looks as if I should get something. The more robust ‘Maximus’ plants, though still small compared to my neighbours’, are more promising. Sorry about the poor photos, I was in a rush.
I’m off to wander around the garden with gardening-SIL and talk about what plants she fancies having for her own garden. It is warm, sunny, the dahlias are blooming, and the patio is tidy, if a little green. I really must try to remember to give myself regular doses of horticulture to balance the mad painting and packing activities! And apologies for being way behind on the blog reading, I’m working on it…