Potting peppers, pruning shrubs and starting an orchard March 11 2015
Today we started by potting on some cayenne peppers which I'm already looking forward to harvesting later on in the year.
Cayennes are highly nutritious, packed with vitamin A (fab for skin) and are generally used in powder form for flavouring spicy dishes. Not to mention that along with lemon juice and maple syrup they form the sole ingredients of the Master Cleanse diet (if it’s good enough for Beyonce…). When we harvest them in the summer, I’m hoping to include them in some cocktails. I found a recipe that is made of vodka, peach juice and sugar syrup with a chilli added so I wonder if cayenne pepper would work. I’ll try it in due course and let you know.
Bridge showed us how to move the seedlings to larger pots... fill a new pot with compost, scrape the excess soil off the top, use a dibber to make a hole in the centre, then transport the seedling holding it by the leaves (always move seedlings using the leaves in case they get damaged in transit, there are a number of leaves but only one precious stem). Pop the seedling in right up to the bottom leaves, this will prevent them from developing weak stringy stems.
After that, we moved on to digging over a patch of land which will become an orchard. We broke up the earth and added lots and lots of nutritious soil from the compost. It was quite hard to move the compost, having no upper body strength but we got there in the end.
We dug up a few shrubs which people were able to take home and also did some identification of weeds.
This is a creeping buttercup, which apparently is a bad thing in the garden. Just look at those roots trying to get all up in the other plants' grills. We swiftly disposed of these in the green waste.
This however is comfrey and although it don't look too pretty just now it will grow into a very beautiful and very beneficial plant. We dug it up and have kept it for someone else to use as we didn’t need it in the garden.
We pruned the Philadelphus, also known as mock orange in reference to its flowers which look similar to those found on orange trees. The shrub was a bit crowded, with branches criss-crossing all over each other so we pruned about half a dozen branches right down to the ground. Bridge then asked us what waste branches could be used for. The answer she was looking for was to use Greentopia, a garden waste collection service, but the answer that she got was to make an Easter Tree. Gabriella came up with that one and I think that was a very good answer indeed. In fact, she actually went home and made one straight after gardening group, which I think will inspire us all to make our own soon. My answer to the branches question was to use it as kindling in a fire pit. Technically correct, but unfortunately we don’t have a fire pit. One day, when I get my own garden, that will be one of the first things I’ll build. We can sit around it on logs with blankets over our knees and I’ll make smudge sticks. Autumn evenings will be glorious.
There was some further cutting back and tidying of the hawthorn bushes which has really opened up the garden. I sat for a while last week and noticed how much birdlife uses the hawthorn for fluttering in and out of the branches. It’s very lovely. One day I’ll learn all the bird types so I can let you know which ones I’ve seen, and I’ll take a more active part in the Garden House contribution to the RSPB birdwatch next year.
And finally, we opened the gardening salon for business and used afro combs to tidy up the Stipa gigantea and give it a bit of a punk look. Also known as golden oat grass, this perennial grass will have gorgeous wispy fronds, and is going to look breath-taking in the summer. Using an afro comb is such a clever idea, so good at removing the dead stalks. A hand fork could be used for the same exercise, but an afro comb is much more effective, and also a little bit more fun.
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