May got off to a good start when we heard that our poem about earthworms won a runner-up prize in Wild About Gardens Poetry Competition run by the RHS and Wildlife Trusts’ Go Wild For Worms campaign. Here it is in its full tweet-sized glory:
Stretched out in the sunshine
Dreaming of legs
Food for the blackbird
I bury a leaf in the soil
Our book prize, Kate Messner’s Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, is a wonderful addition to our kids section in the Garden library. You can find the winning entries, together with a wonderful downloadable booklet on how to make your garden a better home for earthworms on Wild About Gardens website.
With the spectacularly sunny and warm weather this month we (and all the plants) have been catching up on all the growing.
Outside the tattie bed has exploded with shaws so we have now started the earthing up of the plants to promote more tuber formation and stop them from going green in the sun.
We almost finished turning the old tattie bed into a new legume field. Broadbeans are established and flowering nicely, first rows of peas have germinated and others have been sown (Peter swears by soaking the seeds beforehand to improve germination rates). Peter started putting in the bamboo-cane tripod supports ready for the climbing beans to be planted out too. Along one edge we have lift-off from a sneaky row of Jerusalem artichokes too. It’s not been all plain sailing though – putting the stakes for pea supports required getting into the stony subsoil and some real muscle along with occasional sledge hammer action!
In the raised beds we have had spotty germination from parsnips (now remedied by additional sowings) but a decent showing from carrots (the latter now safely ensconced under a net to protect them from carrot fly invasion). The salad bed has had mixed luck – wild rocked, turnips, spinach and cos lettuce look quite happy but we had a bit of a fail in germination from other lettuce varieties, and the mysterious agretti seems to be a no show. Brassicas, beetroot and celeriac have been planted out too and going strong. We are careful to use protective netting or fleece over any brassicas and peas to protect them from the ravenous pigeons and cabbage white caterpillars.
The herb bed has come into its own this year – it looks absolutely spectacular thanks to Cathy’s design and maintenance work. It’s been a great resource for the primary school sessions and Shona’s show-and-tell on herb use at the May Spring Fair. Please feel free to take a few sprigs to add flavour to your dinner (or drinks) any time!
The long sensory border is coming back to life – and thanks to several weekends worth of heroic weeding and mulching effort we can now even see the plants in their full glory. We think Jan deserves a medal for tackling the difficult far end! On the opposite side of the path we have lots of seedlings germinating which bodes well for the showing from the new annual border too (despite occasional trampling incidents). The perennials in the bed against the shed are starting to flower too, and we have had some new plantings around the sweet pea bed, along the tattie bed, and in pots under the display board to soften the garden bed edges a little. We are aiming to repeat last year’s beautiful showing of sunflowers along the fence too – the seedlings have gone in and going strong.
The biggest news for the polytunnel was the installation of the solar panel to power our water pump. This completes the rainwater collection and irrigation system which makes us pretty independent from mains water (and mains power). No more carting of batteries in wheelbarrows for a recharge…Very exciting times! Thanks Will, Dave and Bill for all your amazing work on this:)
The soaker hoses are back in the polytunnel beds along with the tomato, courgette and bean plants (they were somewhat stressed by the heat when they were in the little pots but now they are recovering well). We have been potting on a lot too – eggplants, peppers, basil doing particularly well in the heat. There are more beans germinating ready to go into the outside beds.
We have some tomato and brassica plants left over – free to a good home! Simply pop by the Garden this week – but be quick as they are in danger from Peter’s composting efforts;)
Early in the month Peter and the Monday gardening team made another expedition to tidy up the perennial wildflower border at the Scotscgraig Drive Fruit Tree Walk, followed by a couple of Saturday morning maintenance sessions lead by Janice. The place is looking great – with lots of fruit on the bushes and trees promising a bumper harvest this year. But Janice tells us the Fruit Tree Walk crew is a bit short on volunteers so please do get in touch with Jenny on email@example.com if you’d like to get involved in regular Saturday morning sessions there.
There’s been lots of wildlife in the Garden too – but not much time to record it with all the work to be done! We have been quite excited to see lots of orange tip butterflies, no doubt attracted by the decent showing of cuckoo flower, their caterpillar food plant, in the curling pond meadow. But the star of the show was the small copper butterfly, spotted by Peter. Not really a common garden visitor, its caterpillars love dock plants and there are plenty of those amongst our fruiting hedge along the fence. The males are very territorial and defend their favourite sunny patches of bare ground from all insect visitors while they wait for the females to fly by.
Bumblebee families have been expanding with lots of workers buzzing about now – join Kaska at the Garden for our monthly BeeWalk this Sunday, 10th of June, at 1pm, for a bit of bumblebee and other pollinator spotting.
That’s all for May – see you around at the Garden in June. We hope to have our Tayport harbour produce stall going by the end of the month too:)