With the very strong winds, rain and/or plain icy weather we have been having in recent weeks, I have to admit that I am guilty of neglecting my garden, preferring to remain warm and snug inside and blatantly ignoring the chaos and unkempt appearance at the end of the garden. Not that much of that section of the garden can be seen from the house and I have become adept at turning a blind eye on my daily visits to the coal bunker.
However, there is one section of the vegetable patch that can be seen from the house and it has been taunting me, a veritable sticking out of the tongue and I can almost hear it saying in the sing song tones normally associated with the playground: “We’re still here, nah nah nee nah nah!”
I am, you may be surprised to hear, referring to remains of the half barrel tub bean pyramids – both of them, towering above the rest of the garden, ugly with the dried out browness of their once vibrant stems and plainly (very plainly) visible from the kitchen window.
I think I’ve mentioned before that clearing the bean stems is one of my least favourite winter tasks, having to untangle all those vines and stems that have managed to tightly intertwine themselves around the garden wire, bamboo canes and each other.
Today I cast aside my lethargy, gathered up my essentials and braving the bitterly cold wind and threat of rain, trundled up to the vegetable patch, clutching in my hand the newest and most important item of all the gardening equipment currently in my possession. A Christmas gift from a very thoughtful Eldest Mudlet (“I figured it may come in handy during the cold winter months mum”) this thermal lidded coffee mug made the thought of spending an hour or so in sub-zero temperatures (okay that might be a tad dramatic) a bit easier and it did indeed managed to keep my coffee nice and hot for around 20-30 minutes. Usually a standard house mug will, in these conditions, stay hot for about 30 seconds ….. alright, for 5 minutes tops and that isn’t an exaggeration!
As well as the essential bean clearing I also needed to check on the grow houses which have, I should say, survived the awful winds of recently weeks with little more than a corner popping out of the frame. I should point out though that they are in a section of the garden quite well protected by fences, beds and the greenhouses but even so I have been seriously impressed with the durability of the plastic covers.
A quick glance inside though, immediately highlighted a small problem. It would seem that although the grow houses have coped with the extreme weather brilliantly in terms of structure, unfortunately the loose fit of the cover has allowed a rather large accumulation of fallen leaves to find their way in under the bottom of the covers and gather around the bases of my precious brassicas and one in particular, forming a nice warm winter blanket under which a family of slugs had taken up residence. Sadly the nearest broccoli plant has taken a bit of a battering but, as is the way with nature, there are tiny new leaves at the centre of the plant so it may yet survive.
With the local hedgehogs hibernating and the plastic covers offering protection from birds, the slugs have been thriving …… and for these same reasons I have now sprinkled a layer of pellets under the cover which should deal with the problem effectively whilst still preventing any birds from gaining access to affected slugs.
The final job for today was to spread three bags of manure over the raised beds, except the one in which I will be growing parsnips next season. We still need some more bags of manure to finish the beds off and I hope to get these next week.
Incidentally, we had a bit of a disaster a couple of weeks ago when during the first of the big storms, one of the polycarbonate panels blew out of the bubble wrapped greenhouse (thankfully falling in and not out) and as a result the bubble wrap has come down in places. I haven’t yet come up with a solution to refix this yet but, to be fair despite the collapsed section of bubble wrap the plants living in the little greenhouse seem to be thriving and so it would seem the bubble wrap is doing its’ job.
One last note for Joey and Tim in New Zealand: I hope Santa brought you lots of nice surprises and here is a picture of the ‘Tim and Joey’ Little Elf Chilli plant which is growing nicely in our kitchen and now stands at 9cm tall and is starting to bush out.