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Thursday, January 28, 2010

And I said, "No more pets!" Huh!

It looks like my plans for a wormery is about to be put into action. Reading the latest edition of Permaculture Magazine (click here to see mag), there's a link to a wonderful do-it-yourself homemade wormery that even my budget can run to. The shopping list consists of a few plastic boxes, a water butt tap, some old newspaper and a drill. The species of worms to introduce to your wormery are Brandlings and can be bought at fishing tackle shops, but I've found they are naturally attracted to compost bins so I'm going to vacate some from there into their new home, where they will be well and truly spoiled with all sorts of tasty tit-bits.

Here's the link for the d-i-y wormery. The instructions are very easy to follow, in fact I think..... no, I know I will be able to make this myself without hubby's help. There are clear drawings, diagrams and a sweet little cartoon piccy of a worm.

We have.....

No bones
No shells
No teeth, as well ~
No lips, no beaks
No chins, no cheeks
No horns, no claws
No talons, jaws
No legs, no wings....
No fancy things
Like fins or scales,
Or fluffy tails
Or blubber like the big blue whales.
We're soft
We're small
Not much at all.
We're nondescript ~
But we're equipped
To eat your dirt.
It doesn't hurt
Us.... not a bit.
In fact,
We like the taste of it.
We toil in soil.
We've got true grit!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wanted to share with you

The Rookery in Winter at dusk

Spider Tribe's Bardic Blog

I've recently begun following this blog and the poetry of the participating members is an absolute joy. It's well worth a read. 'Urban Dusk' by Claire is the most recent post. I think it's incredible. Amy Claire Rose also writes poetry for the blog. She is extremely talented and I had to look twice at her age..... 12 years! Click here to read their poetry.

Jackdaws and Rooks


Stunning artwork by Lemon Street Gallery

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm a recovering Scoleciphobic.....

Scoleciphobia is the fear of worms and it seems damned unfair that someone destined to become a gardener should be born with or have developed this affliction! It's true..... from as early as I can remember the sight of a worm has caused all sorts of reactions like trembling and panic attacks. I used to hate having to walk to school when it was raining and the pavements were covered with worms. You can imagine the hilarity this generated amongst my friends and, especially, my older brother who chased me round the garden one day threatening to put a poor worm down my blouse! I took refuge in the bathroom and stayed behind the locked door for almost an hour.

You'd have thought my father would have known better...... I used to spend most days in the garden with my dad from being a toddler. I have a vivid memory of me happily playing with some mud and a bucket and spade when, in amazement, dad turned round, "Look at the size of this!" Of course, he was chortling with laughter as he held a monster of a worm about six inches from my face. I ran in the house screaming and mum gave dad the riot act.

"Ye'll make her ill, ya stupit buggar!" (mum's from Glasgow)

I grew up loving being outdoors and cultivating the little plot that my parents allowed me to have all to myself, but many gardening activities were halted when confronted by an innocent worm. When I think about it now, it's incredible how I've continued to enjoy gardening and how I didn't give it up altogether at an early age. In fact, it's downright puzzling. For a scoleciphobic, I'd have thought the natural route to take was avoidance.

Anyway, thank goodness I didn't shun my life in the garden, along with all the earthworms I would encounter throughout my life. In fact, slowly...... very slowly, I have come to accept their presence. I can look at one without running indoors. I can even hold one, as long as it's not too big! I suppose I have controlled the phobia myself by exposure therapy, but it took an awfully long time.

I even rescued one a few years ago from being run over on the road. I was taking my daughter to school and on the path was one of the biggest worms I'd ever seen. No way could I pick that one up, but it was heading towards the busy main road! I waved daughter off at the school gate, hurried home and returned with a trowel and carrier bag. I didn't dare look to see if anyone was watching or I would have chickened out with embarrassment. After scooping it into the carrier bag, I carried it home and put it into the safety of the compost bin.

Having my phobia under control is wonderful because I have begun to enjoy seeing the worms while gardening and welcoming their presence. There's nothing stopping me now..... my next step is...... a wormery!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dandelion days......


My favourite part of the garden isn't where the roses grow, or the lilies and irises. It's not even the herb or vegetable patch. It's a small section set aside for wildflowers. There's ivy sprawling over a rotting tree trunk, bright blue speedwell, plantain and dandelions. It makes good groundcover for the creatures that live in the garden. Often, while strolling down the path in the Summer, I've caught sight of a frog sheltering from the sun under the ivy leaves.

This year I want to add more groundcover and introduce wildflowers into other sections of the garden, even under the roses, irises and lilies! Wildflowers are so pretty. I love to see patches of speedwell growing in a lawn and masses of golden dandelions. I have to admit to feeling deflated when the local council comes along with their mowers, leaving sqares of uniform green instead of the cheery yellow blooms.

Clover is another favourite. The scent of white clover is as intoxicating as a lily and red clover reminds me of my childhood, when my friends and I would search for what seemed like hours for the illusive four leaved plant.

red clover

I was delighted to come across an eBay seller who's offering wildflower seeds and sedum plug plants at bargain prices. Click here to see her items. I now have some fantastic plug plants nestling in the propagator and red clover, white clover, birds-foot-trefoil, dandelion and self-heal seeds to set away. Mind you, the dandelions aren't just for the wildlife...... they're also for our salads and I'm planning on making dandelion wine . Hubby doesn't drink but I like wine and if I make it from dandelions then I could possibly convince him it really is for my health.

Sedum cauticola

Sedum spurium

Sedum weihnstephaner gold

"Blessings on thy sunny face,
In my heart thou hast a place,
Humble Dandelion!"
Helen M. Johnson

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dream on!

Today the first seed catalogue of 2010 popped into our mailbox. It was lovely to browse through it with a nice cup of tea while outside the UK is still blanketed in snow. It set me off daydreaming about plants I'd like to grow this gardening season. Here are some of them.

(photograph courtesy of Unwin Seeds)

This is Sweet Pea 'Oxford Blue'. Last Summer we grew Sweet Peas, as we do most years, but there were no blue ones amongst them. They were all varying shades of pink. Hopefully this year I'll be able to enjoy the exquisite scent. My sense of smell was just returning at the end of last year after losing it because of a chest infection. Sweet Peas are remarkable flowers. For the cost of a packet of seeds they're easy to germinate and will produce fantastic flowers all Summer long. They look beautiful in the garden, are good cut flowers and most of them are scented. You can't get much better value than that!

(photograph courtesy of The Telegraph Newspaper)

I've been talking for a few years now about making a 'green roof' so maybe this is the year to go ahead. A green roof consists of sedums, small succulent plants that are able to grow in inhospitable conditions...... like on a roof! :O) There are all sorts of reasons why people want to grow this feature...... retaining heat, sound insulation, a habitat for wildlife and simply because it looks pretty and makes a good talking point. We have two old sheds at the bottom of the garden which would benefit from a sedum garden and, after having read this article, there are many other exciting and novelty ideas to consider.

(photo courtesy of

I've always enjoyed dried figs but tasted fresh ones for the first time last Summer when our local fruit & veg man got some in..... he's getting very adventurous, bless his little cotton socks! I loved the fresh ones and was very surprised to learn that they can be grown in the UK, in a sunny spot. So I'm going to get a couple of plants to grow on our patio which gets the full blast of the Sun throughout the Summer.

(photograph courtesy of Thompson & Morgan Seeds)

This is Runner Bean 'Painted Lady'. Last Summer we grew 'Scarlet Emperer'. They did well and produced a heavy harvest of beans right up until the first frosts. We've grown painted lady in the past and I'd like to grow them again because their two-tone flowers of orange and white are so pretty. I'd also like to try Runner Bean 'White Lady' whose flowers are......... erm, white.

(what.....edited? as if!)

Now this is one flower I would LOVE to be the first to grow. Unfortunately my knowledge of plant breeding is minimal, but if I could come up with a yellow fuchsia then there would be no need to buy my weekly lottery ticket ever again! Ah well, like I said...... I was only daydreaming. :)