Saturday, April 15, 2017

Square Metre Gardening Adenture Chapter One: The Empty Cage

If the title has not been enough to warn you--here's the spoiler: this is a garden post. Look away now if you don't have or yearn for a green thumb.
In the dark of winter my gardening pal and I thought and planned how to implement the ideas behind square metre gardening.  Here in Caithness every garden idea has to start and end with--what about the wind? Square metre gardening recommends wire mesh cages. His model is just mesh wrapped around itself and shaped--maybe not even with a wooden base as a support. However, in Caithness, more sturdy preparations are always necessary.
So this cage has top, bottom, and side reinforcements. In addition, you'll notice that this is inside the chicanery--the first line of defence against the worst of the winds. Is this over cautious, you may ask. No. Last year the wind ripped the leaves off my tatties just as they were ready for their last full growth spurt. (The four tattie bags for this year are just to the left of the square bed that has broad beans in it and maybe pea seeds in the back where the sticks are unless the birds got to them.)The back wall served only as a bumper for winds so whatever leaves survived the first cold blast had to try to make it through the swirls caused by wind bouncing off the back wall. I'm hoping the cage will provide a buffer for any other parts of the garden where the breeezes blow as well as sheltering the main veg crop in its own bed. Gardening in Caithness is like Odysseus after his homesick sailors let the winds out of the bag.

Now a question for my gardening pals out there--we have a full moon just now. Does one plant when the  moon is waxing or waning?

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Wildflowers Can be Divas

Most meadow flowers give up easily when faced with weeds like nettles and dochans and the pernicious couch grass, so my gardening pal Angie has been working very very hard to get all the weeds out of the strip at the end of the 'orchard.' The idea began to make a defensive perimeter to keep creeping buttercup and dochans and nettles out of the bed on the other side of the fence. And then as my friend and I do, we grew a bigger (and better) idea. A strip of wildflower meadow. Beautiful, wildlife friendly, encouarging pollinators for the orchard and more palatable as weeds if they choose to venture beyond the fence.

But the cornflower meadow seeds do not like sharing their stage with amateurs, hence, the careful weeding and re-weeding and then laying down newspapers so that any weed seeds lingering would be starved of light and moisture--I know it's harsh, but think of the corn cockles and corn chamomile and blue cornflowers and the bright red field poppy. They deserve a good home, don't they?

And so today was the day for putting down the seeds.
OK I can take photos with people's faces in them, but Angie preferred to be anonymous or faceless. |She did put her best foot forward. We decided that newspapers were maybe still too formidable a barrier for our diva seeds, so we poked holes in them before putting down the seeds.
We had 100 grams, which we calculated was enough for a medium distribution over our area. We divided it roughly into 5 areas and mixed about a fifth of the seed in more or less equal parts sand, about like this--sort of mathematical but then eyeballing it in situ. (Thank you John O Groats ice cream store--your leftover ice cream tubs come in very handy!)

And then we covered seeds lightly with a mix of good, loamy compost and perlite--I dont like the white colour, but for holding water and stablising temperatures it does a good job.

Mixing it and then lightly covering seeds and watering in ever so lightly.

OK now I'm ready for the results to show.  Angie, ever the cynic, says the first things to come through the soil are likely to be weeds. I'm banking on the divas taking centre stage.