SixOnSaturday August 10th: Harvest Happens.

I have been harvesting herbs today. Bay leaves, thyme, sage,  marjoram, lemon verbena. IMG_20190802_104714These are tied in bunches using lengths of raffia that in a former life I scrounged from a fish vendor in Hong Kong.IMG_20190809_104937 The bunches hang in my warm, dark basement until dry, before being crumbled for use in cooking, as teas and as gifts for work.IMG_20190809_104816

Soon there will be poppy seeds. These are bread seed poppies. The seedpods don’t open up like salt shakers, so you can either leave them to dry in place or hang them. IMG_20190719_122920

The garlic is in.IMG_20190807_104341A really good haul this year. I planted only 24 cloves to harvest a whole muck-bucket full. IMG_20190808_142600Unusual in that quite a few of the singly planted cloves have sprouted 3 or 4 very large heads of garlic. I couldn’t say what variety, as I haven’t bought seed garlic in years. I just plant the biggest and best cloves around October 15th.

I pulled the little brown onions. IMG_20190809_102914The Alisa Craigs are still putting on weight so I’ll leave them to grow  for now. IMG_20190727_091703

Blueberries have been fantastic this year. I’ve been picking every other day or so, and from only 2 bushes have enough to eat and stock the freezer. This is today’s haul.IMG_20190802_114852 It’s all about netting. I use plain net curtains from Ikea. The birds can’t get tangled in the very fine mesh. There’s nothing worse than trying to rescue a furious grackle!

Chillies, peppers and squash can be picked daily. The weather is perfect.IMG_20190809_133544And it is tomato time at last! They will have their own Six!

Check out all the other Sixes by following the Propagator Enjoy  the harvest!


SixOnSaturday August 3rd. Seasonal shift.

We had 2 heatwaves in July. The rest of the month was really hot but didn’t quite make “official heatwave” status. It is humid from dawn till dawn. My water barrels are empty. There are rabbits everywhere. The beagle is too hot to bother them. The algae in the river stinks at low tide. On the plus side, it is too hot and dry for mosquitoes. A couple of good thunderstorms would be very welcome, but so far the garden is loving it! It is lush and green when I’d expect baked and brown. Here are my six specials from the garden this week.

img_20190727_092004.jpg1. Anemone japonica ‘robustissima’. As the name suggests this is a very hardy individual,  taking over the marsh-front border with gusto. It throws up its tall flower heads in late summer, and will flower prolifically from now until frost. For me it is the first floral  harbinger of fall. In a couple of weeks it will be infiltrated by wild jerusalem artichokes, causing me to chunter on about ‘clearing out’, ‘redesigning’, ‘no more pink and yellow combos’ and so on. But it will still be August, too hot & humid for such intense activity. By the time the weather co-operates I will be ‘over it’ for another year.  

IMG_20190727_0915422. Germander. Teuchrium Chamaedrys. This one is also a sign of summer’s end. A lovely edging in the sunny border. Some years I clip it. This does not feel like a formal edging year. In a normal climate it would be evergreen. It is a nice alternative to boxwood, which is not really hardy through our winters.

img_20190727_092059-e1564583559934.jpg3. Phlox. Another harbinger. I don’t know which one this is but it is medium height and hides all kinds of ugly rose stems and burned out clematis vines.

IMG_20190727_0915214. White lace-cap hydrangea. This was an element in my first white garden. It is the nicest hydrangea, first to flower and repeating until frost. The white flower is so clear and clean. Sadly it is now being thirsty-ed out by the thuggish redbud tree and will have to be moved to another part of the garden. Another job for the Fall. I’ll take cuttings as soon as the current heatwave is over….I’d hate to lose it as I’ve never seen a prettier one.

IMG_20190727_0917245. Crookneck Squash. One plant, still too many squashes!

IMG_20190727_0917036. Onions! I have at last grown a decent crop. They are not show quality by any means, but they are big enough to slice rather than pickle! It’s only taken 30 years…..these are no-dig which I am turning to more and more.

So there you are, Six on a Very Hot and Sticky Saturday! For more gardening excitement visit the propagator’s site and have a wonderful week.

SixOnSaturday – reasons to be cheerful.

Today is my first blogging anniversary. Thank you to The propagator and his Blog-followers for inspiration and guidance. Follow here:

It is the second night of Passover and Easter Saturday. All reasons to be cheerful.

It is also a full moon. I wish I knew or could retain more of the lore and legend surrounding the Spring holidays. My Six this week just celebrate the magic.


IMG_62251. From the Passover Seder.  Parsley, representing springtime and all it promises. It is in the ground this week and in 2 more weeks will be ready to be sampled!


IMG_62242. Horseradish, the bitter herb, a reminder of hardship. This one is still very small and might be a dock! I’m not sure, but if it is horseradish it will be harvested for Rosh Hashana in the Autumn.


IMG_20190419_1439303. For certain, Easter peas. Sown on St Patrick’s Day (indoors of course) and planted on Good Friday according to (my) tradition. One row each of Lincoln & Topps. To be supplemented by more sowings outdoors. When I get around to it. I love peas.


IMG_20190419_1040254. Bloodroot, which has blood red sap. Seems symbolic of all the needless bloodshed and sacrifice that Spring holidays stand for….


img_6226.jpg5. Simple Daffodils. For me, the best harbingers of Spring. These are probably Ice Follies, or Mount Hood. They look to be ready for dividing. add that to the endless to-do list!



6. The white birds were one of my reasons for starting this blog. They arrive like tourists from a cruise ship in spring and congregate for their departure at the first threat of frost. They are back for the season. The male on the left has his ‘glad-rags’ on and is all ready for date night. She doesn’t look too sure….

I am catching up to the rest of you. I do have tulips already. I wait so long for early spring that I don’t want to move on to the next phase too quickly. Tulips can wait until next time.

Enjoy your week!

SixOnSaturday April 27th – Feeding the beast.

Gardening on silty, free draining soil on the riverbank, I am concerned about the nutrient content of my plants and put a lot of effort into keeping everything well fed. I don’t use commercial products but try to make as much of my own compost as possible. I am lucky to be able to take as much city compost  and local ‘muck’ as I can jam into the Subaru. I re-compost all of it for a year or two before using. I add seaweed from the riverbank to it. It is a lot of work but the rewards are clear and hopefully healthy!


1. Potatoes. Left to right: Sangre [redskin white flesh, early] Strawberry Paw [red skin, mid], Desiree [pink skin yellow flesh, late], LaRatte [ yellow skin and flesh, all season fingerling]. Sometimes I also grow Yukon gold or gem, sometimes Rose Finn Apple fingerling but these 4 are my tried and true all round beauties that resist all weather and disease related issues, store well and taste GREAT!   They are all fairly old varieties that come true from the tubers I save. We are still eating all of these varieties from October harvest, although they won’t last much longer before chitting all by themselves….                I am thinking of trying a few no-dig rows this year. Most of the veg garden has been no-dig for many years but I haven’t tried it with potatoes. I’m not willing to risk the whole crop but I’m pretty sure LaRatte will respond well as they naturally grow in a clump near the surface of the soil. The beds are still too wet for traditional potato planting at the moment.



2. Onions and leeks were planted out this week into the bed where legumes lived last summer and which received a layer of good black compost earlier in the spring.



3. In this bed can be seen Garlic planted in October and some Winter Density Lettuce. This bed had a layer of compost in the fall before the garlic was planted, then a covering of salt marsh hay over the winter. We obviously don’t have the slug problems the True Brits have!



4. Here’s my favourite little woodland corner, with Hazels, Dogwood, Hellebore, Narcissus and Erythronium. Self sown Foxgloves are emerging and Snowdrops are going over. I’m sure you can spot a few weeds too. This area gets a rustic mix of ramial chips, shredded leaves and pine needles in the autumn most years but otherwise takes care of itself.  I get a lot of seedlings from this patch and it is the preferred song sparrow nesting area, so I don’t disturb it too much.



5. Here’s Muscari, another heavy breeder whose babies get relocated annually. This area is hot and very dry most of the year with all day sun. I try to get a good thick mulch on it at least every other year. The follow-on plants are peonies, roses, salvia, veronica and tall phlox. The tall clump on the right is Pheasant’s Eye Narcissus which I dig out every year and which returns unabashed. You may notice that my grass needs a cut.



5. So far it is a good year for Tulips. Even some of the ones that usually come up blind are putting on a great show. These Apricot Viridiflora are fantastic in a vase, not terribly graceful in the garden. They are very hardy and  have flowered faithfully for many years.



6. Last but not least my favourite tulips, the Darwins. These are Apeldoorn which are new to the garden this year. Also in the garden are Yellow Apeldoorn. They are tall, old fashioned and elegant, and about to be hammered by the hideous weekend weather that’s coming our way. The rainfall deficit has been replenished and we are definitely on the soggy side of normal. The Beagle is clearly bored by all this exhausting talk of gardening and flowers. She needs a long nap followed by lunch and treats. Got to feed the beast…..

Take a look at the host, The Propagator’s website to see what his gardening crew is doing this week. Thanks again to him for hosting and have a great week in the garden!