Saturday, June 12, 2010

Garden update Spring 2010

As spring turns to summer it is a chance for me to write a garden update.
From a large pot we harvested – and ate raw – half a dozen spears of asparagus. They were delicious – tender, sweet and juicy.
This brings me to almost conclude a theory.
I have tried several times to grow two or more varieties of a perennial shrub or plant of the same genus in the same pot. And each time, after initial apparent success, only one has survived.
The most recent example of this has been in that asparagus pot of ours.
In it I had planted, over several years, crowns and seedlings of several varieties. They all started well, but beneath the soil a battle was taking place, leaving only the strongest to survive.
This fight between roots beneath the soil in pots has occurred in this London garden between two types of viburnam, two varieties of lavender, and now asparagus. The strongest wins each time. The others die. I won’t bother to try this double or multiple planting again. Nature has taught me a lesson. She has spoken.
In the winter I dug out a pot of mint which had noxious weeds in it, and its plastic was, anyhow, beginning to break up. I replanted a few of its young, rooted strands in a new, strong, drained, black plastic bucket, filled with crocks at the bottom and clean soil above.
This has produced plenty of healthy mint stems, and is the happier for its regeneration. (In tipping out the old mint, I noticed that its roots spread out quite near to the soil surface, and not much downward.)
A success has been in the strawberry pot of geraniums (pelargoniums). From its top are growing three colourful varieties, and from the holes in its side grow the trailing kind. And from one aperture sprout the thin pointed leaves of a thrift plant that was given to us and had no other appropriate place in which to live. It looks a bit odd as it sticks out – rather like hair, favoured by modern youths.
Unable to keep the corms of the Bolivian begonia throughout the winter, I now have two young (gift) plants of its “Bonfire” variety growing well and flowering early.
I have written about my disappointment with plastic sacks for growing potatoes, and the lack of success when using them the following year for Swiss chard (not bad), carrots (poor), and beetroot (very poor).
Well, this year I constructed a frame of bamboos and string and, in the sacks with replenished topsoil planted broad beans (The Sutton) and climbing French beans. These are doing splendidly, with the broad bean plants now in full flower and the climbers climbing.
As for potatoes, I continue to plant three seed potatoes in each of two black plastic buckets (crocked and drilled for drainage). This year I chose the variety Arran Bard.
After 66 days we harvested one bucketful and enjoyed a feast of small, new potatoes (last year we harvested after 77 days). As the spuds were still quite small, we will wait another 10 days before harvesting those in the second bucket.
Potato harvesting is done by first composting the haulms, and then turning the bucket upside-down on a marble-topped table in the garden. Spuds are sorted out from the light soil, which is either to be rejuvenated in the compost heap or spread on the small areas of garden not covered by flagstones.
There should be apples and pears aplenty this year. Herbs do well, and the pieris continues to please. Roses are fine (Rev P-R and Typhoon), and our robins, having brought up young, continue to land in our shed next to us to eat morsels of cheddar cheese and dried maggots.