Gosh, it's a while since I've done a monthly 'in the garden' post. The last one was October, in a very different garden.
After a lot of snow, and a bit of being very overwhelmed, things are progressing nicely in our new garden.
Both greenhouses are full, and I've even started planting things outside.
We've had our first harvest too - just pea shoots and lettuce, and some tiny unintentional potatoes we found in a planter.
The next couple of months should be exciting. In the big greenhouse in pots we have tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, basil, coriander, and some climbing French beans that I'll plant outside at the weekend.
Already outside we have some mystery beans, an an assortment of summer and winter squash and courgettes (the labels faded and they all look the same at the minute).
And in the small greenhouse, which is an ongoing production line of things moving from smaller to bigger pots, we have more squash, more cucumbers, more tomatoes, plus kale, cabbage, cauliflower, rainbow chard, and beetroot.
It won't all survive of course. I've already lost one batch of kale, and all of my spinach, and I didn't repot the chard in time so it's tiny. Some of my tomatoes are still the size of matchsticks because they haven't been repotted, and at this point I think they might have to be consigned to the compost (who needs 18 tomato plants and 20 cucumber plants anyway?) I do hate throwing things away though.
My main garden success at the minute is the compost.
This unpicturesque mess is actually a thriving compost making machine. The giant pile of hay was in one of the outbuildings, and is slowly being added to the compost. The left bay has a mix of hay, fresh grass, and free horse manure that someone was giving away in bags at the side of the road. The middle bay is where I'm mixing stuff from the left and the right to give it all a bit more air.
And, to my surprise and delight, the right hand bay has actually rotted down into lovely, luscious compost.
I genuinely wasn't expecting that. I was just turning both end bays into the middle one to mix them, and the bin we put our food waste in had barely any food waste left.
Pretty impressive, given that I didn't build the bins at all til late March. Clearly I've just hit on the right mix of vegetable peelings, apple cores, coffee grindings, and old hay.
Whatever it is, I'm ever so grateful, and now adding some of my own home made compost to the bottom of the big tubs I'm planting tomatoes and cucumbers in.
In other kind-of-garden news, our cows are still here, and apparently have another couple of weeks before they give birth.
We're getting rather fond of them as time goes on. Yesterday we noticed their water trough (filled from the spring) was empty, so we rang the farmer and he came and fitted a new trough filled from the water mains.
My current favourite part of the garden isn't growing at all though.
This is a metal swing seat that we acquired from someone who was throwing it away, and I love it. It looks ridiculous with that blanket over the top of course, but I assure you it's quite necessary to cast a bit of shade in all this heat we've been having. I'm spending rather a lot of time out there at the minute, staring idly at the scenery (and the cows).
And as we have flowers in abundance at the minute, I've even been bringing a few indoors when we have visitors.
Most jolly. I do love flowers in the house, and these roses, which are growing right by the back door, are so very fragrant they make the whole room smell.
So there we are, a snapshot of the garden in June. This has been fun, and I'll try to remember to do it every month from now on. It's already good to look back on how things have progressed in the four months since we moved here (four months, already?)
We've had some good weather round here lately, and while it's tempting to stay at home and tackle the endless round of Things To Do, I have managed to sneak off for a couple of little bike rides on our local trails.
I confess they haven't been very speedy bike rides, as I often seem to find myself off my bike, taking photographs of flowers. I just don't know how it happens.
I don't always know what they are, and I keep meaning to find out, but then something else distracts me and I forget again.
These are old railway trails, and I love the way they cut through the hills and look out over the countryside.
On one of my recent forays, I came across preparations for a local bicycling festival - it all looked very exciting and on the way home I saw someone driving with a penny farthing on a bike rack on the back of their car.
Occasionally there's an old station, or a dry stone hut, or even another cyclist, but mostly it's just me and the flowers and the weather.
Hooray! After much digging and carrying and swearing, the greenhouse is finally up!
I already have the plastic greenhouse of course, but with the amount of outside space we have now I'm planning to grow as much of our food as I can, so I began to hunt for a second hand glass greenhouse.
Fortunately, a lovely friend offered us hers, and we went to dismantle and collect it a few weeks ago. Since then, it sat in pieces in the garage while I pondered where to put it and dug a base.
Needless to say, it was a bit of a fiasco and took far longer than expected (and two panes spontaneously cracked in the garage), but we're finally there.
My other triumph took rather longer and rather more head-scratching - I have finally finished building the section of dry stone wall that collapsed not long after we moved in.
I had to dismantle a fair bit before I got to a section stable enough to rebuild on.
Slowly, over the last few weeks, I've been adding a few stones here and there, often late into the evening. This bit of wall catches the evening light, and I've often found myself out there at nine or even ten at night as the sun sets.
Slowly, the wall grew, and the farmers next door said encouraging things like 'it's a good start' and 'I've seen worse'.
Finally last night it was time to put on the top stones.
I'm laughing now, looking at how short the grass is in that first picture when it collapsed - it's now nearly up to my waist and I had to trample a load of it down searching for the top stones which had all but disappeared.
Already there's another gap in one of the fields, and several more places seem in danger of imminent collapse.
Still, that's the way with dry stone walls - they stand for a hundred years then one day you wake up and there's a hole. It doesn't so much matter in between our fields, but I wouldn't want any of our cows escaping onto someone else's land, or to find someone else's sheep in our fields. So every day when I'm out, I cast my eyes around to make sure everything's still standing (the cows aren't helping by rubbing their chins on the top stones, pesky beasts).
I could easily fill all my days, and several other lifetimes too, with pottering round here, although things feel slightly more manageable now we have the cows to keep the grass down, and the seeds planted and in the greenhouse, and some veg beds prepared, and wall fixed.
I'm not even sure what the next job is. Possibly fixing the collapsed wall between the fields (it's good to practice on unnecessary walls, I feel), and the beans will need planting out soon - I've been hardening them off for a few days now, inside the greenhouse at night and out during the day.
And chickens! I have promised myself that I'll be ready when the announcement comes for the next local rescue day, and I've decided where they're going, but I'm still being indecisive about hen house design. I'm leaning towards something simple and temporary which can be made more elaborate once we've established a bit of a routine.
In the meantime, we're pottering about in the fields before and after work and at the weekend, becoming weather beaten and sore, and still vaguely like we're on holiday in someone else's life.
The weather's been pretty good around here, and things are starting to grow alarmingly fast. Fortunately, the cows are taking care of most of the fields, in the greenhouse things were getting a bit unwieldy.
Oops. I've done quite a bit of repotting lately, helped by various visitors, and things are settling down (although I don't think the spinach is going to forgive me).
Now the individual pots look (mostly) ok, but the greenhouse itself is starting to get rather crowded.
(Actually, it doesn't look very crowded at all in that picture... but some of the beans are starting to get too tall for the shelves and there isn't much room on the floor...)
Anyway, I was given a proper glass greenhouse by a kind friend a few weeks ago, and it's languished in a pile in the garage while I've been occupied elsewhere. Last weekend I started making a base for it.
This was the first of many iterations and much swearing. I chose this spot because (a) it's sunny, (b) it's on hardcore rather than just soil, and (c) it's relatively flat. Relatively flat. It's taken me several days of pickaxing several hours at a time to make it actually flat, and looking through my photos I see I've failed to even get a picture.
Oh well. The frame is up now (and it was so hot while I was doing it that I had to leave my camera inside), but I have so far failed to put the glass in. It needs doing all in one go, to lessen the chances that it will blow away, and I've just not had a long enough stretch of time (and won't have until the weekend again now).
In the meantime, I've also been sorting out some beds, as some of these plants are destined to live outside.
People keep suggesting the no dig method - and while I approve in principle, in practice that requires rather a lot of input and time, and so I'm going for a modified version.
One bed that I started a few weeks ago is closed to 'no dig' - I scythed the grass down, covered it with cardboard, then a layer of bought in compost, then a layer of freshly cut grass. The grass underneath the whole lot is starting to die off now after a few weeks.
This is decades-old pasture land though, not your average garden lawn, and there is a lot of creeping buttercup and various things that aren't going to be killed off easily. And I need more than one bed - and there now isn't time to do the same thing with the others (and I don't really want to spend a fortune on buying in compost).
So this time round, the pickaxe came out, and I removed the top layer of matted grass.
Then I went over the whole thing with a fork, and removed the main enormous roots.
Then I covered it with a layer of scythings, a layer of cardboard, and a layer of week-old scythings that had been drying out in the sun (not for any good reason, they just needed using for something).
Not perfect, but technically I didn't really dig anything (it was hard enough work though).
This should all rot down, and when I'm ready to plant, I can make small holes in the cardboard, fill them with compost, and plant into them, without worrying (too much) that they'll be competing with the grass roots.
I think no dig beds are best started in the autumn, so this year I'll get on the case (and I'm already considering moving them elsewhere for next year anyway).
So maybe I'll be able to grow some vegetables this year. Now the beds are nicely installed (or some of them at least, I might need a couple extra at some point), I can get back to the greenhouse.
Or rather I can get back to actual work, and the greenhouse will have to wait until the weekend. There just aren't enough hours in the day at the minute.
Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm Jenni, and I write here about our new forray into country living, which includes growing food, knitting, baking, wandering around the fields, and seeing which local cafe serves the best cake.